Game Buzz: Mechs and Adrenaline

Today on the blog, I want to look at two tabletop games that are based on digital concepts.  We’ll start with

image by BGG user JaneZemankova
image by BGG user JanaZemankova

Adrenaline is a new game from designer Filip Neduk and published by Czech Games Edition.  It’s for 3-5 players and takes 30-60 minutes to play.  The game is based on first-person shooter video games, and as such, you’ll be going around doing a lot of shooting.

In the box, you’ll get two double-sided halves of a game board (resulting in three possible configurations); a double-sided board for different modes; 21 weapon cards; 36 ammo tiles; point tokens; a bot card; a starting player marker; 24 powerup cards; and the player bits – 5 player boards; 5 action tiles; 5 player minis; 100 damage tokens; and 45 ammo cubes in three different colors.  Each player takes the stuff for their color, as well as three ammo cubes in each color.  After determining the board configuration, deal three weapons to each spawnpoint, and deal one ammo tile to each square that does NOT have a spawnpoint.  Players should put one ammo cube of each color in their ammo box and make some kind of action-hero comment to indicate they are ready to start.

image by BGG user JanaZemankova
image by BGG user JanaZemankova

On the first turn of the game, players will determine their spawnpoint.  Draw two powerup cards, keep one, reveal the other and start on the color shown.  Once on the board, you’ll take a normal turn, which you’ll be doing every time.  This consists of taking two actions – run around, grab stuff, and shoot people.  Just like a first-person shooter.

RUN AROUND: Move 1-3 squares.  You can’t move diagonally, and you can’t move through walls.  You can move through doors.

GRAB STUFF: You can either move one square and grab the stuff in the new square, or you can stay put and grab stuff in your current square.  If you’re in a non-spawnpoint, you can grab ammo – take the ammo tile, move the depicted cubes into your ammo box, and draw a powerup card if indicated.  You can never have more than three ammo of a color, and can never have more than three powerups.

On a spawnpoint, you can grab a weapon.  Choose one of the three available weapons and pay the cost (removing ammo from the ammo box).  You can’t hold more than three weapons, and must drop one when you pick up a fourth.  It will go in the space just vacated by the one you took.

SHOOT PEOPLE: First, play a weapon card from your hand.  Next, specify one or more targets.  This is determined by your weapon and the positions of the figures on the board.  For each damage you deal, give one damage token to the player(s) you shot so they can put it on their kill shot tracker.  The more damage someone has, the more powerful they become – 3+ points of damage means they can move two spaces before grabbing stuff, and 6+ allows you to move one space before shooting someone.  Once you get hit with your 11th point of damage, you are dead.

Once you have taken both of your actions, your turn ends.  You may reload any played weapons by paying their ammo cost.  If anyone received a killshot during your turn, score their board.  The first person who shot them gets a point, and the player who scored the most damage on them gets 8 points (second most gets 6, third gets 4, fourth gets 2).  You’ll then take a skull from the killshot track (which begins with 5-8 skulls) and place it on the dead player’s 8 point space, meaning that the next time he dies, it will be worth fewer points.  The killshot damage marker replaces the skull on the killshot track.  If you overkill (12 damage), that damage marker will also be placed on the killshot track (same space as the 11th), and you will get marked for revenge by the player you overkilled.

A dead player removes their figure from the board and draws a powerup card.  You then discard a powerup card to respawn on that color.  The shooting player then replaces any stuff he took, and play continues.

In the first game, you end when the fifth skull is taken.  In the standard game, a final frenzy is triggered when the final skull is taken.  You then score points based on how many damage tokens you still have out, how many killshots you got, and how many points you collected in game.  The high score wins.

image by BGG user Zhan_Shi
image by BGG user Zhan_Shi

I don’t have much history with first-person shooter games.  I used to watch people playing Doom on their lunch breaks when I was in high school, and I had a friend who absolutely loved Goldeneye when I was in college.  He talked me in to playing the multiplayer on numerous occasions, and I was pretty terrible at it.  So bad that I eventually just started running around and trying to slap people to death.  It didn’t work often, but it was awesome when it did.

I’ve never really been interested in first-person shooters primarily because I don’t really like conflict in games.  So, when I first heard news of this game coming out of the Gathering of Friends in 2015 (I think), I wasn’t interested until I heard it was from CGE.  That’s a company I will always pay attention to because they are just the best at coming up with fun concepts, quality products, and great rules.

This game looks different than a lot of fighting games out there because, while you do want to shoot people, killing them is not necessarily the object.  There’s some area control going on as players try to get the most damage, the first damage, and the last damage, with the added fun of having people who haven’t died yet being worth the most points.  And death isn’t the end – you just respawn somewhere else with all of your stuff, and the board is relatively small so it’s not that big of an inconvenience.  It’s a total AT theme combined with a Eurogame, and I think it’s going to do pretty well.  I’ll be watching this one closely.

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Mechs and Minions is a recently released game from designers Chris Cantrell, Rick Ernst, Stone Librande, Prashant Saraswat, and Nathan Tiras.  It was published by Riot Games, the company that developed the popular Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) game League of Legends.  MvM, set in the same world as LoL, is a cooperative tabletop game for 2-4 players that takes 60-90 minutes.  You are piloting mechs in order to hold of hordes of minions that are attacking your stronghold.

The game comes with 10 missions, contained in different envelopes; one tutorial mission; one final reward envelope; four game trays; 100 minion minis; 4 painted mech minis; one Boss mech; one bomb piece; 96 command cards; 55 damage cards; 40 schematic cards; 5 map tiles; one The School tile; one Color Compass; 5 command lines; 2 numbered dice; 2 Rune dice; 1 Zhonya’s Minuteglass; 4 crystal shards; 1 gear tracker; 2 gear rings; and 4 Rune coins.

image by BGG user hallo
image by BGG user hallo

There are ten missions in the box, each in its own envelope.  It’s not a legacy game, but you do unlock new things as you progress through the story.  There’s also a tutorial mission, and that is what I’m using as my reference in talking about this game.  The rulebook I found online is more of a glossary of terms, and not really helpful for learning.  The tutorial helps you with the core concepts, and as I mentioned, the game will evolve from mission to mission.

Each player represents a Yordle, controlling a mech tasked with protecting the land from the Minions.  You have a command line with six available slots, and here you will be programming how your mech will operate.  Depending on the scenario, the map will be set up in different ways.

A round is made up a player phase and a minion phase.  In the player phase, the first player draws five command cards and deals them face up.  You’ll then have a draft of these cards, with each player taking one until four have been taken.  There’s a time limit in the full game, but don’t worry about it in the tutorial.  Once everyone has their cards, you can program them into various slots on your command line.  They can go in any slot and on top of another card if you wish.  Placing on top of another card could result in the discard of the original card (if it’s of a different elemental type) or give the top card a more powerful benefit (if it’s of an identical elemental type).

Once programmed, each player will in turn order activate their mechs by going down the command line, left to right.  There are three basic types of commands – turn your mech, move your mech, or attack with your mech.  You must follow the directions on every card in your command line, even if it’s bad for you.

After the player phase is the minion phase.  In the tutorial, this doesn’t occur until you’ve accomplished your objective (i.e. destroying all crystal shards).  Once that has occurred, your objective is now to destroy all minions.  The first thing minions do is move.  This is done differently in each mission.  In the tutorial, you roll the rune die, then move the minions one space in the direction that matches the color compass.  Then, you’ll spawn new minions (which does not occur in the tutorial).

Finally, the minions attack anyone they are orthogonally adjacent to.  You get one damage per adjacent minion, represented by cards.  Glitch damage happens immediately and is discarded.  System damage has ongoing effects.  Slot damage disables a slot on your command line.  Fortunately, you also have the ability to repair and reprogram, which can make damage less painful.  You can’t die in this game, but you can be inconvenienced.

Once you’ve destroyed all minions, the tutorial is over.

image by BGG user RiotAstryx
image by BGG user RiotAstryx

This game felt like it came out of nowhere, but it’s clear Riot Games really knew what they were doing.  It is a huge game, and has been covered by all of the big names – Rahdo did a runthrough, Watch It Played has videos teaching the rules for all of the missions, and Tom Vasel of the Dice Tower even did some consulting on it.  And the game has been getting rave reviews.  Riot Games is a video game company, which makes this game’s success fairly surprising.  But apparently, everyone there is a big board gamer, so they really did their homework on how to make a fun game.

Gameplay looks straightforward and engaging.  If you say “programmed actions” in conjunction with just about anything, I’ll be intrigued.  The components look incredible, and while I’m completely unfamiliar with League of Legends, I can tell this is a pretty rich world. This game might be a big crossover hit, bringing in digital gamers and uniting them with tabletoppers in a game that has something for everyone.  I’m looking forward to my chance to play sometime soon.

That’s all for today.  Thanks for reading!

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