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Go to the Student Bodies page

Student Bodies

91 out of 99 gamers thought this was helpful

When you think of high school, do thoughts of bullies and ‘backbiting’ come to mind? Do recollections of the old alma mater cause panic attacks or repressed feeling of failure and frustration? If so, then this game should be a walk down memory lane. It will let you relive the terrors of high school, but in a new light. Though you won’t be relegated to the back table of the cafeteria, you will get pushed around and picked on, but this time you can fight back. There is no group of jocks, eggheads, or popular students. Everyone is on their own and on equal terms. This is everyone for themselves. This is war. This is survival.

Overview: In Student Bodies, you and your classmates have been bitten by the infected students at your school. Your only chance to leave the building the way you entered it is to get to the lab, find the antidote, and be the first to leave. You will, of course, lock the building on your way out. After all, those other students will eventually turn, and it won’t be for the better. Players navigate a hallway of hexagonal spaces that are littered with debris as zombies appear in the doorways. They will attack you, unless you can place your classmates in harm’s way. Don’t worry; they’ll do the same thing to you.

Components: Players and zombies are good quality cardboard standees. The artwork is excellent and cartoonish. A single imprinted custom die will determine the outcome of attacks. The game board is large, sturdy and folds flat. There are 5 character boards that organize your items and monitor your health and stamina. There’s also a deck of fairly durable cards that you will be relying on to give you an advantage over the zombies and your newly bitten classmates. You are also given scenario cards to mix conditions up a bit, but the basic premise is still the same. Several thick cardboard tokens represent obstacles, items, and beaker tokens.

Gameplay: Each player is assigned a character card which will keep track of stamina (actions), health, and possessions. Each player also draws an item to start the game. Items can be weapons with limited uses, armor or abilities. The game is set up with a selected scenario and predetermined difficulty level. Players start at the end of the hall and must navigate obstacles and zombies to get to the science lab. Each turn a player will spawn and move zombies, take their own actions, and replenish their hand of cards. Zombies must move toward the closest player, but in the case of a tie, the play can make a classmate seem more nutritious. Zombies can knock another player down or bite them. Actions by the player’s character include standing up, moving or attacking. A player also has a hand of 5 cards that can be used to aid in the destruction of zombies and other players. At the end of the turn, a player can discard any cards they want and replenish the hand to the full 5 cards. The goal is to get to the lab, find the antidote, and get back out. As zombies are defeated, item markers will arise; but be careful as not all item markers are good. Beaker tokens in the lab can provide the antidote needed for your escape, but not every beaker contains what you’re looking for. Once you have the antidote in hand, high tail it to the exit. Don’t expect an easy escape.

Impressions: In keeping with Smirk and Dagger games, much of this game rests on sacrificing your opponents to pave the way for your success. Expect retaliation. Turn order doesn’t seem to matter. There is a component of luck in the game when it comes to drawing action cards and searching for items and beakers, as well as the roll of the die which determines attack results by characters and zombies. As with most zombie games, once you find the antidote and you’re ready to escape, the school is overrun by zombie students. A slashfest ensues in which only the most daring and fortunate will survive. Defeat can come early in the game if you are not careful, but once a player’s health is gone, they can become smart zombies, and still win the game by being the last player standing. Unfortunately, if you have already found the antidote, you are no longer capable of becoming a zombie and the game ends for you. Being patient and holding the right cards to the end of the game can be the difference between a secondary education or being the second course entre of the zombie horde.

Final Thoughts If you have other zombie games, save your money and get a game of a different genre. The components are well made but an overly aggressive player could disrupt the game board. The artwork is excellent and captions quite amusing. Even without a victory, some battles can be extremely satisfying. If you missed your last class reunion, this game might be the next best thing to being there.

Go to the Locke & Key: The Game page
88 out of 96 gamers thought this was helpful

Overview: Locke & Key: The Game is based on the comic book series by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. The basic concept of the game is to acquire strengths and talents of the Locke family to overcome challenges that they face at Lovecraft, a haunted mansion that they inherit. Players do this by playing cards, based on these family abilities, to overcome the challenges that are revealed throughout the game. The player who contributes most to prevailing over the challenge receives the most victory points. Locke & Key: The Game is a semi-cooperative game, which means it is also a semi-competitive game. In this game, as in most, competitive strategies and effort far outweigh cooperative ones (players are not one, big, happy family).

Components: The game contents are quite simple, including 184 cards (standard size, measuring 63mm x 88mm), a cardboard “First Player” lock token, rules booklet, and cardboard game standee (typical with Cryptozoic games). The cards are well-made, with amazing illustrations contributed by Rodriguez himself. The 15 holographic key cards are especially notable for their beauty and uniqueness.

Gameplay: Each round a player will turn over a challenge card. Each challenge has a particular color and level. Players can then play any number of strength cards from their hand facedown in a “cooperative” attempt to defeat the challenge. If the total strength of the challenge-color cards played by all players is higher than the strength of the challenge card, then the challenge is defeated. The player who contributes the most points will win the challenge card, its strength becoming victory points for that player. The second highest contributor will also earn victory points. Key cards can be added by players to augment the results of the strength cards played in that round. Some strength cards have special abilities that can affect scoring. On subsequent rounds, players will turn over a new challenge card and the process is repeated. Game ends when the “Game Over” card is revealed. Victory points are then totaled.

Impression: Although game play seems quite simple, strategy plays a major role in this game. Facedown cards could be bluffing by some players to force out cards from others. Some cards will allow stealing or trading of valuable key cards. Even determining play order can affect the outcome of a game. Games tend to be of short duration and do not require much explanation for new players. Although the art work is amazing, I wish that there was more variation in the illustrations rather than many cards of the same strength with the same artwork. The game concept is quite simple, but special effects on cards can turn a game around. Generally, this is a good, quick game that is very visually pleasing.

Go to the Cthulhu Dice page

Cthulhu Dice

84 out of 93 gamers thought this was helpful

After reading some of the more recent reviews, I felt obligated to review this game as well.
Background: The game obviously is based on the Lovecraft novels. Cthulhu resides in the center of the table. The players (up to six) sit around Cthulhu as cultists in an attempt to cause other players to lose their sanity, whether they steal it or sacrifice it to Cthulhu. The player who has the only remaining sanity wins the game.
Components: One 12-sided die, 18 glass stones, instructions (what did you expect for $5?).
Gameplay: A player must target another player and roll the die. The result of the roll will usually have the target player losing sanity (stone) to either the caster or Cthulhu. Rarely, a target will actually gain a sanity stone. Occasionally, everyone will lose sanity to Cthulhu on the same roll. The target then gets to roll, but that player’s roll often will cause him to lose an additional sanity stone. That completes a turn, and the player to the left of the starting player begins the next turn. Sanity is lost and gained until only one person has any sanity stones left (or Cthulhu wins if all players lose sanity).
Impression: The game is quick, cheap, and simple. You get what you pay for. I don’t see how this game could be rated more than a 5 (average at best). There is very little, if any, strategy involved. In fact, luck or chance determines the winner of this game. (There is a variation in the rules for a 2-player game that actually sounds more interesting and involves some strategy.) I don’t like games that allow players to gang up on another player as this game does. In this game, you could have lost all your stones before you even get your turn; maybe even before you take your first die roll. Since the game lacks depth, I believe it also lacks much fun. For some variety, since the stones are just colored glass, you could go to your local hobby store and get other colors of stones if you wanted to spice the game up a bit. I suppose the creators of the game considered using marbles for sanity, but it’s tough enough to keep the 12-sided die on the table let alone 3 marbles for each player. If you can get this game on sale like I did, you can’t really make a bad investment.

Go to the Mice and Mystics page

Mice and Mystics

183 out of 193 gamers thought this was helpful

Overview: Mice and Mystics is a cooperative game in which the players take on the role of one of six mice who are trying to recover their castle from the evil Vanestra. The mice, who were loyal subjects of the castle, were mystically transformed to allow them to escape from the prisons under the castle. Now they must search the castle for weapons and armor and fight minions to somehow defeat these evil forces. Although the game can support up to 6 players, most scenarios (or chapters) will only allow a maximum of 4 players at a time. There is a solo play version of the game which simply involves one person deciding the actions of all the mice. This can be a little hairy but virtually guarantees cooperation among the mice.
Components: The game comes with several reversible “tiles” which comprise the gameboards for each chapter, several well-sculpted prepainted plastic miniatures, numerous cards — mostly representing items and abilities to be gained (89 standard size 63mm x 88mm cards and 47 mini Euro size 43mm x 67mm cards for you sleevers), dice, storybook (adventure guide) , rulebook, and several cardboard tokens.
Gameplay: Following the narrative in the storybook, each game consists of players guiding the mice through levels and rooms under and in the castle. Each room has its own set of minions and objectives. The mice can move, fight, search or explore each turn. Outcomes of searches and battles are determined by roll of the dice. Once the minions are defeated, the party can move on to the next tile. Tarry too long and a surge might be triggered, adding more minions to the fray. If a mouse loses all its “hearts,” it is captured and only able to come back into play after all minions are defeated. Too many captured mice or triggered surges will lead to defeat.
Impression: Despite the evil minions and battles that occur, the theme, artwork and story appeal to families with young children. Even my daughter and wife, who are not gamers, seem to enjoy playing this game. Winning is not easy, although a learning curve will allow future successes. There is some luck involved since many outcomes are determined by rolling dice. This game would certainly appeal more to casual, family, and possibly social gamers than strategy and power gamers. Replayability is limited since it is not likely that players will revisit a chapter already completed. Future chapters and expansions would certainly be likely. Overall, this is a very charming game with an appeal to those who like cuddly heroes.

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Smash Up

39 out of 65 gamers thought this was helpful

I played this game at Gencon. Each person picks two different factions, each faction gaining the special abilities of its ally faction. The wizard faction allows the player to search the deck and draw extra cards. This helps the player to build up the hand quickly. I remember some of the other players mentioning that they didn’t always have a choice of what effect or minion to play, but that is not a problem with the wizard faction. Dinosaurs with lasers destroy things, especially opponent’s minions. Pirates can hijack minions from one base to another (or move themselves). Robots can reproduce minions to a base they already occupy, and ninjas can appear and disappear at bases quickly. Tricksters can put up barriers to adding minions to certain bases. Zombies never seem to die – they can be resurrected repeatedly from the discard pile. Aliens can make minions transport back to a player’s hand.

So good offense geared factions would be wizards, zombies, robots and ninjas. Defensive factions would be aliens and tricksters. But if you really want to stir things up or create chaos, get some pirates and laser-wielding dinosaurs and have at it.

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