What is it? An all-out bar fight with magical powers and programmed actions.
The Deets: 2-8 players, 60min
Designers: Bryan, Geoff, Sydney Englestein
Publisher: Stronghold Games
The premise for this game is hilarious. We’ve got plenty of epic fantasy adventure games in all forms, but what happens when the adventurers come home? Okay, it’s not the first game that thought about that idea, but as far as I know it’s the first game that answered the question with “a knock-down, drag out barroom brawl.”
First of all, look at these components. The little chairs, the flagons, the tables. You’re already impressing me even as I sit down, game! I admit, I hadn’t heard much about this game before the con but as soon as I saw it, I wanted to try it.
So, it’s a programmed action game, which means that you have to play several action cards a few turns in advance, and then resolve them and see what happens. But guess what? There are a whole bunch of clever twists.
First of all, what can you do? A whole lot. Pretty much everyone can move around, pick up objects, push tables, throw things, swing across the room kicking people in the head as you go, pull the rug out from under someone’s feet, and otherwise cause ridiculous mayhem. Each character has a few special abilities as well, and one quite powerful Dragon ability that is only unlocked by picking up the Dragon Flagon at the center of the room.
What makes this game particularly inventive is how damage is suffered. When you take damage – first of all, you have to give over some reputation to the person that kicked you. Reputation is everything (and having the most of it wins you the game). The unique part is, depending on the attack you may also have to program extra actions. The more you have to program ahead of time, the less information you have. Most of the time, you only have to assign your next action just before you perform your current action, but you might have to program that second action early, or even add a third action on the table.
Each action takes a certain amount of time to resolve – in other words, it moves you ahead a certain number of spaces on the turn tracker. When multiple people occupy the same space, the order is randomized, but everyone has to assign their action before that order is known.
The unique abilities add some fun flavor and craziness to the game. But, again, there’s no elimination. Sometimes you’ll miss your shot, but there’s enough flexibility in your actions that you can usually set something up. And the actions available are exactly the actions you’d want, making for an uproarious, imaginative experience. Punching, shoving tables over, throwing chairs, swinging on chandeliers…
I didn’t play a full game, and I suspect that the ultimate winner will be based a lot on luck (or at least, lucky reading of your opponents), but I also suspect this won’t matter. The experience here is paramount, and this game makes it easy to have fun.
Also neat? The game supports up to 8 players. A lot of what happens is simultaneous, so even at the max player count I don’t see the game taking too long, and I am eager to get my hands on more big-group beyond the social deduction genre.