Hooyah: Navy Seals Card Game
In Hooyah, players take on the roles of Navy Seals, each with their own specialization, and work together to gather provisions to complete up to five Operations (Ops) in preparation for one final mission. One player, who is assigned as the Lieutenant Commander, leads the team through the dangers and tests of skills. If just one member of the team fails then the mission ends for all players. If all the Seals successfully plan and prepare for the risks ahead, the order can then be given; the battle cry of the Navy Seals: Hooyah!
Each Player chooses or is randomly assigned one of 10 Navy Seal cards that defines their role and specialization in the game with one exception; one player must be the Lieutenant Commander (LC) for the game and will issue specific orders and command the team. Players also take 5 health tokens.
The Ops/Events deck is shuffled and two cards are dealt into five rows. These rows represent the five Operations that players must complete in preparation for the final Mission. The two cards in the first Ops row are turned face up revealing two numbers in a colored field. These Ops cards present the players with the objective of the current Operation: collect the displayed number of colored cards. There are five colors that represent the important skills used in the game: yellow for air support, blue for aquatic skills, purple for tech skills, red for marksmanship, and green for physical training and strength. The Time Counter’s dial is set to the total value of these two Operation cards and is placed in front of the Lieutenant Commander.
The Skills/Equipment deck is shuffled and five cards are dealt face-up to a Provisions area. Players on their turn will collect cards from this area in order to gather the number of colored cards that match either or both of the two face-up Ops cards. There are also Equipment cards that provide an added game effect as well. Subsequently, one of five Mission cards is chosen, placed in a holder and set up where all players can see. The mission card contains a Mission Event, as well as conditions the players will have to meet to win the game. The LC always goes first.
Hooyah gameplay is divided into three major phases:
The Prepare Phase: Players gather Skill/Equipment Cards to gather the necessary cards to complete the current OP. Each player in turn, may draw two cards from the face-up Provisions cards or draw one at a time from the top of the Skill/Equipment deck.
Players seek to collectively gather a number of colored skill cards equal to or more than the numbers on the two face-up Ops cards. During this phase the LC may also call a role call, to allow each Seal in turn to report on an amount of one color skill they can contribute to the OP. (Example: I can provide 3 Air Support (Yellow) Sir!). If the LC feels that the players can safely achieve the OP, the LC calls Hooyah! And the Ops Phase begins.
The Ops Phase: After Hooyah! is called and before players may combine their cards to complete the Operation, they must face a number of Events equal to the number of players plus the number of the Operation. Most Event cards test a Seal’s skills, and may require that player to produce a card of the matching color of the Event, (Blue for Aquatic and so forth.) Some Events have special effects that can profoundly affect a player’s ability to support the current OP, even doing bodily harm. After all the Events have been faced, the players now reveal from their hands the cards that are necessary to complete the OP. Success means revealing OP cards in the next row and beginning the Prepare Phase for the next OP or the Mission itself. Failure means a loss of one health for all Seals, loss of all cards in hand, and attempting the same OP again.
The Mission Phase: After the 5th and final OP is completed successfully, each player faces an Event, and then all players may attempt the Mission. Each player, beginning with the LC, reveals cards from their hands to complete the specific color/skill requirements listed on the Mission card. Success means Victory for the team! Failure means a loss, returning to base with a better idea of what it takes to be better prepared an setting up the game for another play.
All of the components for Hooyah are of very high quality. Simple and elegant, the artwork and graphics by Joe Boginski and Jody Boginski-Barbessi are done with an eye for detail and utility; being easy to read, see and understand. The rulebook, is formatted well, with ample illustrations and sidebar explanations; making the game easy to learn. Real-life backgrounds on the five Missions in the game are included, but not necessary to enjoy the game.
Hooyah is easy to learn and begin playing in 10 minutes. As with all good games, learning the complexity of the interaction between players and real tactical planning for mission success takes experience and repeated game play.
Who would enjoy this game?
Initially, the subject matter of Hooyah: Navy Seals Card Game may not spark your interest; unless of course you are a war-gamer or have a military background. Honestly, there are those specific genres that seem to entice the gaming community more than others. But don’t be mislead, Hooyah is much more than a war themed game…much more.
Mike Fitzgerald has ingeniously created a game that captures the feel of the challenge and rising tension that one would imagine is created when facing unthinkable real-life dangers without violence or controversial subject matter. Fitzgerald manages to do this with an elegant system that is less specific, less blatant and very intuitive. Using simply colors and numbers and some Seals imagery, the game’s objective rests firmly on the shoulders of the players, their interaction with each other and of course, communication. These challenges can only be overcome with training, expertise and teamwork.
On the subject of teamwork, many cooperative games force players into a situation where often the alpha player at the table suddenly becomes the boss, playing the game for the other players, diminishing the teamwork aspect of the cooperative motif. In Hooyah the player who is the Lieutenant Commander IS in charge and by the rules (of the game and the military) all players must answer to and defer to the LC’s decisions. Give the LC role to a more timid player and see what happens!
The Time Counter device is a wonderful balancing mechanic that creates a time limit based on the difficulty of the Operation being attempted. Each of the 10 Navy Seal character cards also have special abilities that when combined create a sense of unity in the group rather than creating conflicts on who should do what. Combined with the LC’s role, this produces a very tight foundation for player interaction.
The rising tension of the game is manifested in the five Operations that players must complete in order moving up a visible ladder to the main Mission card. Trouble is, events that can use up your resources before attempting the OP increase in number as the game progresses. In a four-player game, for example, by the 5th OP, players must face 9 event cards (two per player plus one). In preparing for the Mission and Ops you plan and prepare as much as possible, but the real threat of failure looms ever-present.
Hooyah excels as a solitaire game. In fact, Fitzgerald admits that the game was developed and play-tested solely in solitaire mode long before testing with other additional players. For this attribute alone, where most solitaire rules fall a bit short (who wants to play alone?), the tension and challenge immerse a player even in solitaire mode – a tribute to the game’s tight design.
Mostly though, in Hooyah you have a game that doesn’t beat you over the head with theme. The danger is portrayed through tension not graphic violence. It doesn’t need minis or maps. The Missions are real-life missions, and if you feel inclined to read about them they are included in the rules. The weaponry exists as Equipment cards that provide an image, name and special ability but not damage values or ammunition ratings. As a family game, the basics of color/number matching, preparation and cooperation to achieve a goal are all qualities that parents would be proud for their children to learn. For any other gamer, it is a test of good communication, command structure, risk assessment and confidence – all qualities I am sure that any Navy Seal would need. And when a mission is accomplished, arms will be raised in victory – a sign of a truly immersive and expertly designed game experience.
User Reviews (5)
Add a Review for "Hooyah: Navy Seals Card Game"
You must be logged in to add a review.