Chainsaw Warrior - Board Game Box Shot

Chainsaw Warrior

| Published: 1987
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It's the year 2032. A warp has opened up in the old Municipal Buildings in the heart of old Manhattan and bizarre creatures are flooding through into our dimension. Goading them on is Darkness, a malevolent entity who intends dragging the city of New York back through the warp - destroying it utterly!

Many brave men died assailing Darkness' stronghold before they remembered you. In the past you have done the Special Forces Unit many favors... but now you must come out of retirement to face the toughest challenge of your glorious career. Equipped with all the latest in high-tech armaments you must battle your way into the very heart of Darkness' domain and defeat him within the hour - or the city you love will be destroyed!!

Chainsaw Warrior is a nail-biting game for one strong-nerved player. Yes, it is a solo game - just you against the clock! Can you save New York? Remember, you only have one hour!

User Reviews (3)

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Rosetta Stone
Football Fan
Explorer - Level 5
Junior
9
37 of 39 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“In the spirit of today's Co-Op games...but solo”

First, I should point out that I had a small crisis of conscience before writing this review. I own this game, and played it many times when I was much younger. But that was before I experienced the sometimes baffling, sometimes evil decisions made by Games Workshop, who published this game. I won’t get into the specifics of my GW disgust here, but in the end I felt that knowledge of my bias against GW might help to illustrate how much I like this game. (This may be the only game I’ll ever review from GW.)

Okay, onto the review.

This is a solo game, and so difficult to win that I would place it against any of today’s modern Co-Op games, in terms of how tough it is to defeat the boss and win the game. The story is that you have an hour to find and destroy the “Darkness” and save the world…armed with only the gear on your back, and what you find as you go.

The game is set on a time track. You draw a card every 30 seconds, and you run out of time in an hour. Time is such a factor in this game that I highly suggest you run the game with a timer, pausing only to handle some minor bookkeeping in order to get you back on track in real-time.

The cards you draw can be an enemy to fight, a trap to endure or overcome, or nothing. The boss card is shuffled into the second of two decks, and so you need to get thru the first deck before you can win.

Resolving the cards typically involves rolling two d6 and comparing your stats (with gear) against the enemy or trap. And that’s about it, as far as how the game plays…but the game is clearly designed to make you lose more times than you can win.

There are a number of common complaints about the game, but simple solutions to avoid them. And all but the most OCD, self-defeating purists would gladly make these changes.

1. The game is very fiddly. In particular, it comes with paper counters for ammo. Obviously, this is ridiculous. Record the ammo you use on a piece of paper, or use some other counters (like dice) to keep track.

2. Game setup takes a while. This is true, but once you have it setup, it takes less time to restart after losing. Also, if you give up on the ammo chits, your life will be much easier.

3. Random gear at the start of the game. Personally, I’ve played by choosing the gear I start with, and random gear. If I can choose the gear I start with then I don’t get any upgrades during the game, and that isn’t as fun. But if I go random and get really bad gear, that’s not fun either because the game is difficult enough. My solution was to mix it up. Get random gear, and then swap out stuff that’s really bad to give myself better chances.

4. There are a few cards that virtually (or literally) guarantee you will lose. And if those cards are in the first deck, or before the boss in the second deck, some people feel that it’s a waste of their time. I disagree, but if you feel that way, remove those cards. There aren’t that many, and depending on when they are found, it might only be a temporary setback.

5. There aren’t many choices. I agree that it seems like it’s just draw a card and roll dice, but there is definitely strategy here. Gear has limited use, and sometimes choosing the right weapon or tool for the job is the key to victory. I have the most fun when I imagine myself with only an hour, have a timer on hand to reinforce the end of the world countdown, and get into the STORY. In other words, allow yourself to feel the theme and you’ll have more fun. But if you need a game where every action requires a meaningful decision, play something else.

Final thoughts: I think this game struggled to find more traction when it was released back in 1987 because it was simply ahead of its time. Back then, the gaming world hadn’t even seen Settlers of Catan. Eurogames (as we know them) didn’t exist. And yet, you can clearly see the influence of Chainsaw Warrior in games like Arkham Horror, Elder Signs, Pandemic and even Zombicide.

If you like modern Co-op Board games, and you can find a copy of Chainsaw Warrior, you are going to be happy you did.

 
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7
Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
oddball Aeronauts fan
6
19 of 21 gamers found this helpful
“You can be an 80's action hero!”

Travel back in time my friends to the 1980′s. The golden age of action horror movies, muscle bound hero’s and bad hair. Released in 1987 by Games Workshop Chainsaw Warrior was an instant buy for my teenage coffers.

Essentially this is a John Carpenter movie in a box, minus Kurt Russel. If like me you’ve watched Escape From New York multiple times then you are going to love this.

The set up is simple its 2032 and an malevolent warp to the nightmare dimensions has opened in a New York apartment complex, as a retired special forces commando you have only 1 hour to storm the building with a blistering array of cool heavy weapons and save the world.

This is such a cool game and one of the few Solo efforts that I know off. The game comes with a comic book that helps to set up the pulp feel, and strangely for a Games Workshop title the rule book is relatively simple and straightforward. (anyone who has played Dark Future will understand the pain to which I allude)

Played out on a board that has a nail biting timer squatting ominously in its top right corner, this represents you state of the art digital watch as the world countdowns to doomsday.

After an initial set up which see’s you randomizing your hero with some simple stats which effect your health and weapon prowess you then get to do the board game equivalent of the equip your weapons montage prevalent in the 80′s.

You select your random weapons and equipment and then your ready to take on the forces of darkness.

The game is played by making your way through two decks of cards that represent the buildings corridors and rooms (sort of like a fighting fantasy book), each of these cards will have a hidden surprise beneath it (usually a monster) and you have to make your way through this deck (somehow) and reach Darkness the big bad buried somewhere in the second deck. Kill him and win the day. (yeah right)

Its as simple as that. But boy is this game tense, every turn that timer is ticking away and worse some encounters will cost you valuable seconds burning away into that slim 60 minute window. Its so easy to get caught up in whats happening and before you know it you are the board game equivalent of an action hero (you will have to provide your own one liners) The deck is mostly full of bad guys and most of them zombies and ghouls, but hidden among them are some really nasty surprises.

This game is so tense and hard, did I say hard. Its virtually impossible! If your not running out of time, your bleeding out or irradiated and then you turn the next corner and are faced with a mutant or robotic zombie thresher machine and by that point your down to a sharp stick and harsh words (yeah your ammo runs out too).

Just brilliant stuff and even though this game will hand you your backside 9 times out of 10 its such a manic tense ride on the way you know you want to play it again straight after.

When I got this out to take the pics I didn’t intend playing but the temptation was too great, maybe this time I’d beat the swine. No, not gonna happen 40mins into proceedings with my ammo running dry and suffering from radiation poisoning I turn the corner and was promptly torn to pieces by a pack of hungry rats, the indignity.

Love love this game. Gutted that the sequel that was hinted in the rule book never came out an Alpine Nazi occult stronghold assault.

So by now your thinking I want this game, but where can I get it. I’ve seen on ebay and can sometimes be picked up for a reasonable £10 or so, I was lucky enough to procure a second copy this summer from a car boot for a couple of quid. I then felt safe to allow the kids to try their hand at it without the fear of jam stains or missing components.

But all is not lost, this has been released as an app and on the steam store. I’ve not played it yet but it looks to be every bit as challenging as its board game counterpart, so for under a fiver you too can savor this classic.

 
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7
Guardian Angel
Baron / Baroness
USA
Miniature Painter
7
14 of 17 gamers found this helpful
“You Have 60 Minutes to Save New York… So, why bother?”

I was working at my local game store in 1987 when Games Workshop released their solitaire game Chainsaw Warrior. I know the title of this review sounds like you should give it a pass, but bear with me on this one.

The premise of the game is that a rift has somehow opened between our world and another, and a strange being referred to as “The Darkness” has made its way here. It has occupied a building in Manhattan and is gaining strength enough to pull the city and its inhabitants back through to its home dimension… The United States government, desirous to prevent this fate from befalling so many tax payers, drafts YOU – a highly trained special forces commando – to go in to defeat Darkness and save the city. By the time you arrive on site, receive your briefing, and your necessary equipment, you only have 60 minutes before Darkness drags the city back to its home dimension (which probably won’t be very much fun for anyone other than Darkness…). As a setting, it strikes me as similar to the Mutant Chronicles setting, or the Lawrence Fishburne film Event Horizon.

The board consists of four sections which lock together as large puzzle pieces, and is nothing but charts and tracks for keeping track of the various bits of information and decks of cards you’ll need to play. The cards themselves come in perforated sheets and you need to separate them and sort them into their respective decks.

First off, you’ll need to know what you’re capable of. Each time you play you randomly determine your commando’s stats. You have 5 stats: Endurance, Hand-to-Hand, Marksmanship, Reflexes, and Wounds. Endurance reflects your ability to resist the adverse effects of both Radiation and Zombie Venom; Hand-to-Hand represents how deadly you are in, well, HTH combat; Marksmanship how good a shot you are; Reflexes is how fast you respond to danger; and Wounds should be self-explanatory…

Each of these stats has a track on the board where you note what your total is. Apart from your stats you also have one skill which you are exceptionally good at – Marksmanship & Endurance modify the stats of the same names, Agility modifies your Reflexes, and Strength your HTH. The final two skills – Climbing & Hiding – are used to counter the effects of some of the various “House cards” which you’ll encounter as you make your way through the building. Hiding is used more often, but Climbing is (IMHO) more useful to avoid the “Chasm” trap which requires you to retrace your steps and waste valuable time.

Lastly, it’s time for you to gear up! This is where the cracks in the premise appear for most players. You randomly determine what your Equipment Allowance is. There are 5 types of Equipment – Clothing, Devices, Guns, HTH Weapons, and Heavy Weapons; each type of equipment has a differing point cost in order for you to draw a card from the appropriate deck. (Yep, that’s right! The fate of Manhattan rests on your shoulders, so close your eyes and reach into this bag and grab some stuff and see what you get.) There is one other piece of equipment – the Laser Lance – which you MUST take with you, but doesn’t count against your initial Equipment Allowance. You need the LL in order to defeat Darkness, and to prevent yourself from dying if you find an elevator shaft (a type of house card) flooded with Slime.

The building is represented by the House Cards; shuffled into two cards – one for the lower levels of the building and one for the upper levels. Once the two decks have been shuffled and separated into equal piles, the House card for Darkness is shuffled into the second deck (for the upper levels). The building is now set for you to enter. Each house card when flipped over reveals what you encounter in that area (areas are Balconies, Corridors, Elevators, Rooms, or Stairs, and are noted on the backs of the cards). Most of the areas that you’ll enter contain bad things – Cultists (deranged humans who have sided with Darkness), Mutants (what you’ll turn into if you are exposed to too much Radiation), Traps (which range from deliberately set obstacles to weakened floors which you might fall through), and Zombies (which you will turn into if exposed to too much Zombie Venom) – but some are Empty (with a chance of a Wandering Zombie), and some contain good things (supplies dropped by the first teams to enter the building) for you to pick up and use.

Turns play out in the following sequence:
Move the time counter along the countdown track. You’ve only got 60 minutes, and this track is how you know time is running out. Each turn takes 30 seconds, so there are 120 possible turns. Each deck holds 54 cards (that includes Darkness in deck #2), so it should only take you 54 turns to run through each deck. But some House cards – notably traps – will take more than one turn to deal with. You’ll have to move the timer more than one space for those cards.

Explore the building. Flip over the top card of the House deck you are currently working through. You start with deck #1 and when that’s exhausted you move “upstairs” to deck #2. Read the card and do what it says. If it’s an enemy you have to kill it, or otherwise deal with it, before you can move on.

If you’re having a fight, you first have the chance to shoot it with a ranged weapon (if you have one). If you don’t have one (or choose not to use it – you have to keep track of your ammo, so choose what to shoot wisely) you engage in Hand-to-Hand. [NOTE: If you have the Hiding skill you can try and avoid the fight altogether.] If you fail to kill the enemy in the first round of combat you keep going until one or the other of you is dead, or you escape the fight. However, for each additional round the fight goes on you move the timer along the countdown track… so be quick about it.

Play goes on like this until the game ends. This happens automatically if the countdown hits 0 (in which case you and all of Manhattan die horribly), or if you die as a result of the hazards of the building (i.e. – you run out of wounds, or your exposure to Radiation of Zombie Venom equals or exceeds your Endurance).

Your only hope to win is to run through the lower levels of House cards, get to the second deck, and find Darkness (he’s a room card, but could be anywhere in the second deck; pray he’s towards the top). Once you find Darkness you have to kill him. This requires one of three things:

You shoot him with the Laser Lance; remember it? The one piece of equipment you have to take with you. It only has three shots, and you may have had to use one if you ran into a Slime filled Elevator. This is your best bet, but even so it requires you to roll 11+ (you get to add your Marksmanship bonus to this) to kill him.

You defeat him in HTH combat. This is virtually impossible as he has a HTH skill of 20(!) which makes him very hard to take down.

If you were ‘lucky’ enough to draw the Implosion Waistcoat (yes, Waistcoat; they’re British after all…) you can go all Kamikaze on him and kill yourself and Darkness (you saved Manhattan, but you die too. Oh, boy!). Technically, the card says “The Game ends in a Draw,” so you could use it in the first fight you get into and thus save the city early on, but that makes for a short game.

All in all, it’s hard to win. Over the years of playing, I think I’ve only done it two or three times (once with the Waistcoat). But this is where the game really wins out. Despite being almost impossible to win, players seem drawn back to try again and again. When you do win, it feels really good.

I come back to this game for the challenge and for the nostalgia value of playing it. Visually, it doesn’t stack up to more recent games like Zombies!!!, or Zombicide (although GW did make CSW miniatures, there was no way to use them in the game), but it’s still kind of a hoot to play now and then. There were rumors, back in the day, of GW making a sequel game, but that never happened.

There is an app version of the game available here. I haven’t played it myself, but I’m told it simulates the board game experience fairly well.

 

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