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Tag: James Nettum (page 1 of 3)

12 Days of Holiday Gaming – Squirrel or Die

There’s always a demand for games that are good for stocking-stuffers, White Elephant exchanges, or office parties. I’ve been making an effort to put at least one on my list each year, so for Day 4 of my 12 Days of Holiday Gift Exchange I present Squirrel or Die.

Squirrel or Die is a memory/press-your-luck game for two to four players. Players take the roll of Squirrels preparing for Winter. There are two distinct phases in each game, which I’ll discuss below. Hope you like your games with a touch of black humor, because the goal of the game is to seed the Yard with Food for you, and Death to your fellow fuzzy animals!

Cards in Squirrel or Die are either Food, Death, or Special. In the Autumn phase, players start each game with three secret cards in hand. The grid (aka the Yard) starts with one card face down, and three cards face up. On a player’s turn they take a card from the draw pile, and add it face up to the Yard. Then the same player swaps any face up card from the Yard with a card from their hand, which will go face down. Eventually all cards will be face down in the Yard, which signals the start of Winter.

When Winter comes (shush, I don’t watch the show) players will take turns drawing a card from the yard, publicly showing off their choice. Each Food card drawn contribute to that player’s victory while making the Yard more dangerous for everyone else. If a player collects three Death cards, they’ve been eliminated from the game. The winner is either the last player standing (most likely outcome), or the player who finds the most food once the last card is drawn from the Yard. Special cards have a variety of effects; such as forcing you to take another turn, or sending Death to another player.

Squirrel or Die is a great small-box game. It’s easy to teach, plays in about 10 minutes, and has a good replay value. Just be aware that the semi-bleak humor won’t be for everyone, though the theme could definitely be used in a classroom to teach students about winter survival in the animal world.

Squirrel or Die is by Fight in a Box, and distributed by Atlas Games.

About the Author

James Nettum started playing RPG’s while in fourth grade, sneaking in sessions of AD&D on the playground of his Catholic school. He went pro at the age of 25 when he took a position at Pegasus Games in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been there 10 years and plays every sort of game, except collectibles.

James started posting a 12 Days of Holiday Gaming via Facebook on Black Friday in 2016. I enjoyed the recommendations and wanted to share them. With his permission, I’m reblogging the series here at Chicago Geek Guy.

12 Days of Holiday Gaming – Last Days: Zombie Apocalypse

Welcome to Day 3 of my 12 Days of Holiday Gaming Suggestions, and hopefully the start of me writing at a faster pace now! Night of the Living Dead turned 50 this year, so we’re gonna talk about zombies.Today’s game is Last Days: Zombie Apocalypse by Osprey Games.

Last Days: Zombie Apocalypse is a miniature game that manages to stand out in a gaming market over saturated by the undead by doing a few key things. Firstly, all of its rules are in a single book. It’s a slim book (by the standard of other minis games); barely passing a hundred pages.Nearly all of that space is devoted to the rules of the game. There’s no need write a bunch of fluff about a world overrun by the undead when so many movies,books, shows, and comics have already done that!

This isn’t to imply that there aren’t story elements to the game despite its relatively small book. On the contrary, Last Days knows that the most interesting zombie stories are about the human conflicts that the undead just make worse. Therefore, it’s completely designed continuous,campaign-style play. Zombies are governed like nearly-mindless obstacles rather than controlled by a single player. The human narrative, meanwhile, starts right when a player designs their group of survivors. Will their leader be selfless, or selfish? The choice affects what kind of followers can be recruited. Where does the group take refuge? The abandoned prison presents a strong start with fences and an infirmary, but it can’t be customized much in long-term play like the more initially-vulnerable farmhouse or mall can.

(And yes, leaders, followers, and bases all improve over the course of play. And zombies are always the same.)

Last Days actually uses the overwhelming number of other zombie games to its advantage by being completely miniature agnostic. In other words; “USE WHAT YOU WANT” is part of the rules. (This is a great feature of nearly all of Osprey’s miniature games.) If you know someone who already owns games like Zombicide, Last Night on Earth, or Zombies!!!!!, then Last Days will work with what they already own! (And if that person is you, mention the book to someone who needs a gift idea for you.)

Check back soon (hopefully tomorrow) for a non-miniatures gaming suggestion.

About the Author

James Nettum started playing RPG’s while in fourth grade, sneaking in sessions of AD&D on the playground of his Catholic school. He went pro at the age of 25 when he took a position at Pegasus Games in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been there 10 years and plays every sort of game, except collectibles.

James started posting a 12 Days of Holiday Gaming via Facebook on Black Friday in 2016. I enjoyed the recommendations and wanted to share them. With his permission, I’m reblogging the series here at Chicago Geek Guy.

12 Days of Holiday Gaming – Fallout Wasteland Warfare

Day 2 of the 12 Days of Holiday Game Recommendations, and only [*checks notes*] four days after the first. Oof. (Don’t worry, I’ll be done well before Christmas.) Today I’m going to get an obvious game out of the way with Fallout Wasteland Warfare by MODIPHIUS.

(But first, let’s be obvious about my biases. Yes, I’m a big Fallout mark. Yes, I’ve been hyping this game most of the year. Yes, I clearly want the community around the game to keep growing. Proceed with all of that in mind, because I still think this is a great game!)

Fallout: Wasteland Warfare is a miniature game based around the Fallout video game series. But you will not need to be a Fallout fan to enjoy the game, nor do you need to be an experienced miniature gamer. I’ll be talking almost exclusively about the game’s starter box, which was designed to be as accessible as possible for the beginning miniature player (while still providing enough content for people ready for a more complicated experience).

Given that I’m talking about a miniature game, let’s start with the minis themselves. Everything in the starter box is fully assembled, and manufactured out of colored PVC plastic. (Humans and their dog in grey plastic; mutants and monsters in green.) Each of the 12 miniatures are also on their own decorative base, giving the each model a nice visual pop.

Having fully-assembled miniatures is a nice step for the beginning player, but the Fallout Starter Box doesn’t stop there. It also has an 8 page “Getting Acclimated” guide written specifically for someone who’s never played a miniature game before. The guide walks new players through the basic ideas of playing, and includes simple scenarios after each concept to help reinforce them.

The Rules of Play guide continues the teaching trend. Here rules and concept are introduced in greater detail with plenty of examples and more involved tutorial scenarios. Fallout is a game with a lot variables, and they are introduced a bit at a time to avoid overwhelming players.

“Enough of why it’s a great product for the beginning gamer, how does it play?” you may be wondering. At its core, Fallout Wasteland Warfare is “skirmish” miniature game rather than an “army” miniature game. Players typically will use 6 to 10 models per team, rather than dozens upon dozens of miniatures. Additionally, most games will be based on a scenario with a goal other than “beat up the other team”. A victory condition could be to hack terminals (or lock people out of them), search for the best loot, or keep invaders out of your settlement. The game also features a detailed “A.I.” system which can put any number of models under the control of dice. This allows for cooperative player, or scenarios where two opposing players have to avoid monsters while battling each other.

There’s lots more that I could get into (like the myriad of free content online, the resin minis, or the campaign play), but I won’t yet. Suffice to say that Fallout Wasteland Warfare Starter Box is a great miniature game for the absolute beginner, especially if they’re a fan of the Fallout video games. And if you’re not yet convinced, head over to Modiphius’ webstore and download the rules for free!

And for those miniature gamers who aren’t beginners, come back after my 12th entry for a detailed breakdown as to why Fallout Wasteland Warfare is a great choice for more experienced players, too!

About the Author

James Nettum started playing RPG’s while in fourth grade, sneaking in sessions of AD&D on the playground of his Catholic school. He went pro at the age of 25 when he took a position at Pegasus Games in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been there 10 years and plays every sort of game, except collectibles.

James started posting a 12 Days of Holiday Gaming via Facebook on Black Friday in 2016. I enjoyed the recommendations and wanted to share them. With his permission, I’m reblogging the series here at Chicago Geek Guy.

12 Days of Holiday Gaming – Nut So Fast

Welcome to Day 1 of the 12 Days of Holiday Game Recommendations, now think fast! My first suggestion this year is Nut So Fast, by Smirk&Dagger. (Published under their Smirk & Laughter product line.)

Nut So Fast is a reflex card game for 3-6 players. Each player begins the game with roughly the same amount of cards in a facedown pile. At the center of the table is a collection of cartoony nut tokens. On a player’s turn they draw the top two cards from their pile. If a total of four of the same nut is shown between that player’s two cards, everyone races to grab the corresponding token. The walnut and cashew tokens are distributed like musical chairs; a token for every player but one. Whoever fails to grab one of those tokens has to collect the cards from the player who revealed the set of four. (Points are bad in this game!) Meanwhile, there’s a single pistachio token, and the quick player who grabs that gets to choose the poor soul who gets stuck with the points.

(There’s also a single almond, but I won’t tell you how that works. You’ll need to play to find out for yourself.)

Complicating matters are the three “Nutty Pose” cards. At the start of each game, three poses are randomly assigned to 1, 2, or 3. (Poses vary from finger guns, self bunny ears, peace signs, and other silliness.) If a number card is relieved, forget the nuts and strike the correct pose! Whomever was slowest gets the points.

The goal of Nuts So Fast is to have the least points after three rounds of play. In between rounds, a new trio of Nutty Poses gets dealt out. Careful about those reflexes you just developed over the last round, because suddenly they’re wrong!

Nuts So Fast is a great combination of mental and physical reflexes, making it a game for groups who enjoy the likes of Pit, Slap Jack, Jungle Speed, or Set. You can download the rules at the Smirk & Laughter website, and get it from most Friendly Local Game Stores.

About the Author

James Nettum started playing RPG’s while in fourth grade, sneaking in sessions of AD&D on the playground of his Catholic school. He went pro at the age of 25 when he took a position at Pegasus Games in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been there 10 years and plays every sort of game, except collectibles.

James started posting a 12 Days of Holiday Gaming via Facebook on Black Friday in 2016. I enjoyed the recommendations and wanted to share them. With his permission, I’m reblogging the series here at Chicago Geek Guy.

12 Days of Holiday Gaming – Cursed Court

I’m once again doing something a bit different for Day 10 of my 12 Days of Holiday Gaming Suggestions and discussing a game that won’t be released until Tuesday, December 19th. Look a few days into the future with Cursed Court!

Disclosure time: John Nephew (the head of the game’s publisher, Atlas Games) is friends with Lory Aitken (my boss at Pegasus Games). John was in Madison for Thanksgiving weekend and brought a copy of Cursed Court to the store to run a few demos. Neither of them had any idea that I’d be writing this.

Cursed Court is a deduction game for two to six players, who take on the roles of minor nobles in a fantasy setting. The game’s board shows nine major nobles in a three-by-three grid. There is also a deck of 36 cards; four copies of each of the major nobles. The players will be trying to use public and semi-private information to deduce which cards will be appearing, and in what combination.

The game is played over the course of three cycles (or years), each with four phases (or seasons). At the beginning of each year, every player gets four wagering crown tokens and 20 influence coins. The deck of major nobles is shuffled, and one card is dealt in between each of the players. That card is shared information for the two players it is between. At the beginning of each season, a single card from the major noble deck is publicly revealed and placed next to the board. (Meaning for cards will be made public by the end of each year.)

After a noble card is relieved the betting begins, and this is where Cursed Court shines. Each season, players can place one of their wagering crowns on the board; either on a single noble, or a combination of nobles who they think will appear the most that year. (For example: a player could bet on the Queen, or bet on “The Wedding” which assumes a combination of the Queen, Duke, and Priestess.) At the end of each year, all of the cards that were dealt between the players are added to the revealed cards, and successful wagers are scored. Bets on a single noble score based on how many copies of that noble’s card are showing. Bets on a combination score if at least one copy of each of the required cards is showing at least a single copy. (“The Wedding” will only be worth three points, even if two copies of every card is present.)

While that may seem straightforward, there is a major limiting factor in Cursed Court: each space can only have a single wagering crown on it. When a player places their crown on an unclaimed space they can add any number of their 20 influence coins to that space as well. If a player wants to take a claimed space they must be able to play twice as many influence coins as the controlling player has already played. (This means spaces with 11 coins on them are completely secure.) Players must time their influence use wisely because they cannot get coins back until they lose a space, or at the end of the year.

Cursed Court is another game where the mechanics and the components compliment each other perfectly. The fact that only one player can control a possible wager, plus the limited number of influence, plus shared “hidden” information, plus the slow reveal of public information leads to a lot of bluffing, second-guessing, and ruthless undercutting. It feels like cutthroat political intrigue. This is magnified by fantastic artwork and well-designed tokens. Everything blends together very well.

When I first did this list in 2015 my game of the year was Revolution!, and I said it was an underrated game that deserved much more love than it gets. It made me happy to see so many people agree with me in the comments. To those people in particular, I say keep your eyes open for Cursed Court. Beyond that little niche, I think this game is going to be a hit with anyone who likes deduction, bluffing, and playing the odds in a highly combative way. If this sounds like a game for you, get ready for its release in a few days!

About the Author

James Nettum started playing RPG’s while in fourth grade, sneaking in sessions of AD&D on the playground of his Catholic school. He went pro at the age of 25 when he took a position at Pegasus Games in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been there 10 years and plays every sort of game, except collectibles.

James started posting a 12 Days of Holiday Gaming via Facebook on Black Friday in 2016. I enjoyed the recommendations and wanted to share them. With his permission, I’m reblogging the series here at Chicago Geek Guy.

12 Days of Holiday Gaming – Baffle

Hello, Day 9 of Holiday Game Suggestions! Today’s entry is will be short, but it’s for a game that I feel deserves a much wider audience than it has. Let me tell you all about the Baffle!. (No, that’s not a typo. “Baffle!” is the full name of the game.) This one is independently published, so most stores don’t carry it.

Baffle! is a variant of Sudoku that uses colors and shapes rather than numbers. There are 25 pieces in five different shapes and colors, and a 5×5 playing board. To win Baffle! you must have a full board that doesn’t repeat a single color or shape in any column, row, or corner-to-corner diagonal. There are 60 puzzle cards full of different starting-states for the board, each with a different difficulty.

What sets Baffle! apart from other puzzle games is that it has different rules variations, including competitive multiplayer. A possible way to play with multiple people is that the person who places the last piece wins. On a player’s turn, they can add or remove a piece; or swap two pieces around the board, or from the board to the unplayed pile. Since many of the puzzles have multiple solutions, the challenge now includes figuring out which one everyone else is going for and cutting them off.

Baffle! is most certainly a game for fans of logic puzzles, and it also has great potential as a learning tool for all ages. This is especially true with the competitive or cooperative multiplayer aspect. I could easily see this working well in a classroom, after-school club, or senior center. This one gets a big thumbs up, folks. If you’re a fan of logic games, this one’s for you.

(And I can say personally that the game is highly addictive. For you see, when Pegasus Games first started carrying Baffle! there was an open copy at the counter for customers to look through. But after a week or so it was obvious that Baffle! was causing some major loss of productivity on the employee end, and the open copy was put on the demo shelf.)

Baffle! can be purchased from the manufacturer Flying Rabbit (http://www.bafflegame.com/) or from Pegasus Games.

About the Author

James Nettum started playing RPG’s while in fourth grade, sneaking in sessions of AD&D on the playground of his Catholic school. He went pro at the age of 25 when he took a position at Pegasus Games in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been there 10 years and plays every sort of game, except collectibles.

James started posting a 12 Days of Holiday Gaming via Facebook on Black Friday in 2016. I enjoyed the recommendations and wanted to share them. With his permission, I’m reblogging the series here at Chicago Geek Guy.

12 Days of Holiday Gaming – Simon’s Cat

Sometimes you just need a simple, silly game. Maybe you have friends or relatives over who aren’t habitual gamers. Maybe you need to kill time while half your gaming group finally finishes that. Damn. Game. Of. Agricola. ALREADY. Maybe you just need something to pay at the restaurant while you’re waiting for your order to show up. For all those instances (and undoubtedly many more) we have our Day 8 suggestion, the Simon’s Cat Card Game.

Yes, it’s that Simon’s Cat straight from the YouTube series. The card game is another one that follows trick-taking mechanics, but adds a few unique twists to it. For starters, none of the games’ six suits are the same length, and some don’t even have the same value. (For example, the pink Cat deck goes from 3-10, but the green Gnome cards only have a 1 & 2!) Secondly… well, let’s get into that as we discuss the play.

Shuffle the 36 cards together to form a deck of Mischief. Deal an equal number of cards to each player. How many? As many as you want. The bigger the opening hand, the longer the game. Any leftover cards are set aside face up, public knowledge to every player. During the game, players must play a card by following the same number or color of the last card played. If a player can’t do either, they are forced to take the trick.

The round ends when everyone has played all of the cards from their hands. Whoever has collected the most tricks has made the biggest mess, and therefore gets one Simon card. The first player to collect three Simon Cards has lost.

That’s just about it. If I gave any more details, I’ll have copied all of the game’s rules. So why am I recommending this game? Because like I said above, sometimes you just need a simple, silly game. Have you had fun with games like Love Letter, Yam Slam, or Zombie Dice? Then you’ll probably enjoy Simon’s Cat.

The Simon’s Cat Card Game is by Steve Jackson Games.

About the Author

James Nettum started playing RPG’s while in fourth grade, sneaking in sessions of AD&D on the playground of his Catholic school. He went pro at the age of 25 when he took a position at Pegasus Games in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been there 10 years and plays every sort of game, except collectibles.

James started posting a 12 Days of Holiday Gaming via Facebook on Black Friday in 2016. I enjoyed the recommendations and wanted to share them. With his permission, I’m reblogging the series here at Chicago Geek Guy.

12 Days of Holiday Gaming – Sentinels Comics RPG

I’m breaking yet another of my very-much-not-long-standing traditions with Day Seven of my 12 Days of Holiday Game Recommendations because I’m going to recommend a game that just came out. Step right up, Sentinels Comics RPG Starter!

“But, James,” protests some voice that definitely isn’t just in my head, “everyone knows about the Sentinels of the Mulitiverse card game. It’s a best-seller everywhere!” While that’s absolutely true, the followup Sentinels Tactics board game didn’t share nearly the same success after its Kickstarter. (Which is a shame because it’s a great game but we’re not talking about it right now focus James!) So please loan me a few moments of your time, and let me tell you about the Sentinels Comics RPG Starter.

(And for my own sake, I’m going to talk about the RPG Starter without referencing Sentinels of the Multiverse. For my fellow Sentinels fans, just know that this story takes place after the OblivAeon Event.)

The Sentinels Comics RPG Starter takes place on an Earth that is being rebuilt following a global disaster, one that could have been total extinction event had it not been for the world’s superheroes. Up to six players will step into the spandex of the most famous superhero team, the Freedom Five (plus their former intern), while one takes on the traditional GM roll. Over the course of six adventure booklets, the players will lead the Freedom Five through a series of events that will set the state of the world for the full release of the Sentinels Comics RPG.

The Sentinels Comics RPG is a world of brightly colored superhero shenanigans. The closest “real world” parallel I can think of is the old DC Animated Universe. While the tone of those shows varied from the gloom of Gotham, the urban utopia of Metropolis, the fantasy of Atlantis and Olympus, and even the blighted hellscape of Apokolips, there was always a positivity and optimism over the stories. So too is the world of Sentinels comics. There will be highs and lows, emotional stakes, and the threat of death, but the players are Capitol H Heroes.

The mechanics of the game reflect this by supporting a play style that’s more about storytelling than number crunching. At the system’s core is a unique mechanic that uses three dice, ranging from d4s to d12s. When a player wants to accomplish something, they pick a die associated with one of their character’s powers, a die associated with one of their character’s qualities, and a status die. The three dice are rolled, and usually, the middle result is used. (Individual abilities will often modify which die is used, but will always be three dice for the PCs.) This could be an attack, or it could be…

– An OVERCOME action to remove an obstacle, or narrative danger. (Tachyon the speedster using her scientific knowledge and inhuman quickness to override the guidance system of multiple missiles.)
– A BOOST or HINDER to modify someone else’s roll, be it a player or the GM. (The ninja-like Wraith using her gadgets and stealth to lay down a series of smoke bombs.)
– A DEFEND action for when the player wants to focus exclusively on protecting more than just their hero. (The cold-based Absolute Zero creating a wall of ice to shield his team from an incoming gout of flame.)

The emphasis on action type and broadly defined powers and skills gives players a feel of narrative influence, while still allowing for the dice to dictate a degree of randomness beyond the outcomes of success or failure. Additionally, the initiative system is completely under the player’s control! After a character gets an action, that player decides who will go next, even if it’s the GM’s villains. This streamlines in-game conflicts, by focusing on teamwork, and doing away the need for prepaid or held actions.

To a veteran RPG enthusiast, I would say that the Sentinels Comics RPG Starter is much more freeform than D&D or Pathfinder, much less straightforward than Savage Worlds, but not nearly as open-ended as FATE. It shares a designer with the Marvel RPG published by Margaret Wies Productions, and probably is most likely that game more than any other.

A final note in case you’re wary of starter products or prepackaged adventures because you don’t like linear stories. Of the six story booklets, only the first two and the final one have to be done in order. The first serves as an introduction to the heroes and the setting, while the second sets up the state of the world and the story. The next three are up to the players; how they arrive to the final showdown (and in what shape things are in at that point!) is up to them.

Bottom line, if you’re an RPG fan of any sort, get the Sentinels Comics Starter. Better yet, buy it from a Friendly Local Game Store that’s part of Bits and Mortar. You’ll get all the PDF of the whole bundle for free if you do!

The Sentinels Comics RPG is by Greater Than Games.

About the Author

James Nettum started playing RPG’s while in fourth grade, sneaking in sessions of AD&D on the playground of his Catholic school. He went pro at the age of 25 when he took a position at Pegasus Games in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been there 10 years and plays every sort of game, except collectibles.

James started posting a 12 Days of Holiday Gaming via Facebook on Black Friday in 2016. I enjoyed the recommendations and wanted to share them. With his permission, I’m reblogging the series here at Chicago Geek Guy.

12 Days of Holiday Gaming – Grifters

We’re halfway through my 12 Days of Holiday Game recommendations! Now over the last two years, my first nine picks were in no particular order, and I saved any ranking for my top three. I’m doing something different this year. Today may be day six, but this game is not only my Number Three pick of the year; it’s also a teaser for my overall Game of the Year.

Today’s game is Grifters, and it feels weird to have to shine a light on this one. Grifters exists within the same world as the incredibly popular Resistance and Coup card games, but seems like it’s become to be their forgotten sibling. (The William Baldwin of the group, if you will.) But Grifters is an excellent game, and it deserves way more credit than it gets.

In Grifters two to four players take on the role of rival criminal organizations, competing over a limited supply of money, jobs, and specialists. When any one of those three supplies run out, the game is over. At the beginning of the game, each player will start with a hand of six cards. Three of those cards will be the game’s three ringleaders (Mastermind, Thief, and Pickpocket), and three will be randomly drawn from the specialist deck. Players will recruit additional specialists throughout the game either by drawing from the deck or stealing them from other players.

Specialists in Grifters either work solo or as a team. If a card is played by itself, follow the rule text on it. (For example, playing the Mastermind would allow a player to add more specialists from the deck to their hand.) To complete a job, multiple specialists are played as a team. When this happens all of a card’s printed rules are ignored in favor of what suit it is. Each job requires a combination of one or more of the game’s three suits (red, green, and blue) to be completed. (For example, when played as a team the Mastermind simply counts as one blue card.) Players can choose to either play a single card, or as many as they need to complete an available job.

My favorite mechanic in Grifters is in its player boards. Each player has a hideout with a multistage discard area, representing the time their specialists are laying low after an assignment. When cards are played, they go into the “Night One” space. At the beginning of every turn, players will move any cards from Night One to Night Two; from Night Two to Night Three; and from Night Three to the Refresh area. At the end of a players turn, they put any cards in their refresh area back into their hands. The heat is off; time to get back to work.

Much like Honshu, and Bad Beets, Grifters is a small box game that’s easy to teach. It’s also a game that does a great job of merging mechanics and theme. Between assembling the perfect team for a job, and having that team lay low for a few turns afterwards, it feels like a heist game. Having to race against the other players for the perfect team and the perfect score—all the while stealing specialists and resources from each other—definitely gives the whole experience the cutthroat feeling of rival crime families carving up a city. If you’re a fan of quick to play, highly competitive player-vs-player games, you should check out Grifters.

Grifters is published by Indie Boards and Cards.

About the Author

James Nettum started playing RPG’s while in fourth grade, sneaking in sessions of AD&D on the playground of his Catholic school. He went pro at the age of 25 when he took a position at Pegasus Games in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been there 10 years and plays every sort of game, except collectibles.

James started posting a 12 Days of Holiday Gaming via Facebook on Black Friday in 2016. I enjoyed the recommendations and wanted to share them. With his permission, I’m reblogging the series here at Chicago Geek Guy.

12 Days of Holiday Gaming – The Others

Day four’s Holiday Game Suggestion is going to be a bit different from the rest. Nearly all of my past (and upcoming) choices are meant to cast a wide net in terms of interest. But much when I recommend the Dread RPG last year, it’s time to focus on people who like their games a bit creepier. Step out of the light with The Others, a one-versus-many, dungeon-crawl board game set at the beginning of a potential Apocalypse. Up to four players take on the role of the Heroes who will fight save the city of Haven. Opposing them is the player who takes the role of one of the Seven Deadly Sins!

The Others begins with a lot of player choice immediately. First, the players decide who will be the Sin. The Sin player then choices their sin (Pride or Sloth in the core game, more in expansions), and their acolytes (three choices in the core game, more in expansions). Then the group will decide which scenario they’ll play, and which of the map options of that scenario they’ll use. The Hero players then each pick their one starting characters from a team of seven choices, each with different strengths and focuses. The Heroes win in different ways, always dictated by the chosen scenario. The Sin may get other victory options, but one never changes: if they eliminate all of the heroes, they win.

This game oozes atmosphere in its every component, so much so that I could gush about for way too long. Instead, I’ll attempt to do it justice concisely. The Others is a game of both gothic horror and science fantasy, and every part of its presentation merges those two aspects. The map tiles depict a range of buildings like sterile medical centers, towering cathedrals, and decaying warehouses; all of them unified by a gloomy style. The monsters have a visceral, body-horror design that may call to mind the works of Clive Barker, David Cronenberg, or H.R. Giger. There are a lot of extra teeth and tentacles on the likes of zombies, medical workers, astronauts, hobos, and things that were clearly never humanoid. So it’s only fitting that the heroes include a trained marksmen, a vampire, a werewolf, and a mind-controlling mutant. Monster and hero are all depicted in highly detailed miniatures that come fully assembled.

The atmosphere is supported by the game’s mechanics, which help convey a sense of inevitable doom to the Heroes. When it comes time for the Hero players to make roles in the game they can choose to corrupt their heroes to gain a quick boost. The more corruption a Hero takes, the bigger the boost they get. Naturally the more corruption a Hero takes the closer they get to a grizzly end, but they will not succeed without it! It is a question of when, not if. When a Hero dies (and they will die), the player picks a new one from the reserve. If there are no Heroes left in the reserve when one dies, the Sin wins.

The Sin player also has difficult choices to make, but the one most unique to The Others is when they will act. Unlike most one-versus-many games, the Sin player doesn’t have a spot in turn order. The Sin player gets a turn by spending a reaction token after a Hero has completed their turn. The Sin begins the game with a small supply (usually only two tokens), and can only send monsters after the Hero that has just acted, so they must pick their moments to strike carefully.

The Others is one of the most unique dungeon crawl board games I’ve ever played and is one of the best-looking games I’ve ever owned. (Corruption, decay, and eldritch horrors can be beautiful no you shut up!) As a bonus, the massive amount of expansions for both Sins and Heroes means that it will be a long time before this one gets stale. If you enjoy games like Zombicide, Decent, Imperial Assault, or Castle Ravenloft; and you have a taste for movies like Hellraiser, Alien, or Event Horizon, you should check out The Others.

About the Author

James Nettum started playing RPG’s while in fourth grade, sneaking in sessions of AD&D on the playground of his Catholic school. He went pro at the age of 25 when he took a position at Pegasus Games in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been there 10 years and plays every sort of game, except collectibles.

James started posting a 12 Days of Holiday Gaming via Facebook on Black Friday in 2016. I enjoyed the recommendations and wanted to share them. With his permission, I’m reblogging the series here at Chicago Geek Guy.

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