What is it? Guns. Lots of guns.
The deets: 2-5 players, 30-60min
Designer: Filip Neduk
Publisher: Czech Games Edition
When I first started getting into board games, I discovered a little game called Frag – the first person shooter board game. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t without its flaws – mainly, a tedious dice-based combat system that wasn’t particularly intuitive. I got my fun out of the game, but eventually it landed in the trade bin.
But c’mon, the fast-paced PvP action game genre is ripe for innovation, and Adrenaline promises to do just that with a streamlined design that rewards clever play AND running around guns a-blazin’.
On your turn you get two actions, and you choose between three options – you can move fast, move slow and pick up stuff, or just shoot. Stuff you can pick up: ammo, mostly, and also bonus cards. Oh, also guns. Lots of guns.
The guns are what make this game really interesting; each one has a unique way of firing and cutting your opponents to pieces. Some of them just fire in a straight line; some shoot through walls. You’ve got explosive weapons that damage everyone in a room. You’ve got the vortex gun that sucks everyone towards it, and the auto-targeting Lock Gun that increases damage when you shoot someone you’ve shot before.
You’ve got to load your guns with ammo before you can fire them, and many guns have advanced options that increase their power or effectiveness by spending additional ammo cubes. You’ll also have to use those cubes to reload your guns at the end of your turn, so you better make sure to pick up what you need and not just hold your finger down on the trigger.
The game uses a clever hit point system, where you give tokens of your own color to your target when you hit them. When their meter fills up, points are scored, with bonus points to whoever hit you first and whoever hit you most. Kills are recorded on the game board, and additional points are awarded for getting the most kills at the end of the game. This rewards players for spreading their damage around rather than ganging up on one player, and it also rewards smart use of your abilities to get that first blood or to be the one that makes the kill. Also, as you take damage your abilities increase in effectiveness – you can move farther and still pick up stuff, and at some point you can move and shoot in the same action.
The ammunition system didn’t feel tedious, but it did force everyone to balance their gunfire with their movement and what ammo they needed to collect rather than just rolling dice as quickly as possible. It made the game feel smarter.
The game’s technically still a prototype, but it seemed to deliver the promised experience. Once we got a turn or two in, everything made sense. Turns are quick and action packed without dragging. Weapons were ridiculously fun to discover, and managing your ammo and which gun you chose to fire or power up became an interesting part of the game. The miniature figures were pretty cool too, although I think they will be smaller in the final game.
Overall the design was highly effective, and quite the action packed experience.
Also, I played as the happiest robot ever made. How could people shoot a guy like that? And yet they did. Punks.