Red November - Board Game Box Shot

Red November

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Bad times have hit the experimental gnomish submarine Red November.

The sub has gone crazy, and everything’s going wrong at once. Fires are burning, the sub is leaking, and critical systems keep failing. Help is on the way, but the gnomish sailors must hold out until the rescuers arrive.

Red november board game pieces

Red November, a frantic game of survival for 2-8 players, is a cooperative race against the clock. Co-designed by the prolific Bruno Faidutti (Ad Astra, Citadels), Red November tasks players with keeping their sub from sinking, which means combating raging fires, rising flood waters, and dangerous reactor failures. Everyone must work together if anyone is to survive, and working together means finding the most efficient use of every gnome on board.

With every passing minute, something goes wrong. Can you make it until help arrives?

Red November Board game component
images © Fantasy Flight Games

User Reviews (12)

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7
Knight-errant
Cooperative Game Explorer
Amateur Advisor
Gamer - Level 6
9
49 of 55 gamers found this helpful
“A simple game that entertains”

I first saw this game being played at my local gamestore. I liked it immediately when I saw it. This game takes the classic cooperation of multiple players trying to achieve a goal and gives it a new and entertaining twist.

The object of the game is to survive a sub going haywire; bad things are happening all the time, and you’re just trying to stay alive long enough for a rescue to come. The problem is, every time you fix a problem, enough time passes that something else bad could spring up. You have a total of one hour (usually, sometimes less with more players) in in-game time to survive long enough for rescue, and basically what you’re trying to do is cut corners on the time it takes to fix a problem so that you have enough time to fix other things before they overwhelm the ship.

With multiple players, you will all be working together to keep the ship afloat (or in the case of a sub, capable of floating). But here’s where things get interesting. There is a certain item called the Aqualung that you can pick up during the course of the game. If you have the Aqualung, you can use it to escape the sub to battle the Kraken (who can show up during the later part of the game) OR…you can abandon the sub entirely and leave your former friends to fend for themselves. If you leave the sub, you win if the other players fail to make it to rescue, and you lose if the other players win. It makes leaving a big risk, but it can be just as much a risk to stay on board a dying ship.

The thing that I like most about this game is the turn/time system. Just about every action you take requires time to accomplish, from moving through hatches to collecting items. Usually conducting any sort of action requires at least one minute of game time to do. Performing a fix-it task can take anywhere from 0 to 10 minutes, depending upon what you have to help you, but you can only do one per round. So, when you take your turn, you can perform any number of actions and one fix-it action, and then your turn is done. This can take a lot of minutes to accomplish, or very few; it just depends on what you do. As other players take their turns, they too will have varying minutes of time accrued as they go about their turn. But here’s the thing; the game keeps track of time using the board’s time tracker. Whoever is last on the time tracker will go next in the order of turns. There is no set system of one playing going after another player in order. If you take a huge amount of time to perform actions, your turn likely won’t come up for a long time as everyone else will be catching up to your time position on the board. In contrast, if you take a short amount of time to perform tasks, you will have more turns more frequently.

Let’s think about this from a logic perspective. This makes a HUGE amount of sense. As one character performs a task, events are still happening around their character as he or she takes time to do what needs to be done. Time doesn’t stop just because someone is occupied. If you take 20 minutes to do something, any number of things could be happening around you that you may or may not know about. But you, as a duty bound gnome officer (yep, your characters are gnomes), have to finish your current task(s) before you can react again. In effect, everyone who plays the game has 60 minutes total, and it’s up to them how they spend it.

In terms of survival games, this game runs in the middle of the spectrum. Things will go wrong on the ship, but you don’t need to fix everything. Some hatches can remain jammed, some fires can be left to burn. All you need to do is manage the critical systems and make it to the rescue point. Sometimes the game will throw stuff at you right away, and sometimes the end of the game will be in sight, and you are thrown a near-impossible situation. But there is always the option to leave the ship for a select few. In this respect, EVERY game can be a winner…if you are willing to throw your friends to the wolves.

 
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9
Miniature Painter
Rosetta Stone
Advanced Reviewer
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
7
49 of 55 gamers found this helpful
“Gnomes made a submarine! Nothing could go wrong, right?”

The gnomes, intrepid explorers and expert inventors they are, have built their greatest achievement yet, the submarine Red November. It has set sail on its maiden voyage, loaded with alcohol, equipment and you, the players.

That was a mistake…

This is one of those coop games that really means it. If you cannot work together with the rest of the crew, this isn’t going to take very long. The Red November is a deathtrap, and as such there are many ways to meet your end aboard her. The reactor is overloading, the vessel is taking on water, fires are burning, the pressure is rising… what is that sound? What do you mean the missile is about to launch!? The tube is blocked! Wait, what is that tentacled thing I see out the porthole?!
Your job is not to save the ship, it is to keep it patched together just long enough for rescue to come.

This is a game advertised for 3-8 players. A game will run you from 30 to 60 minutes or so, depending upon the number of players and how well folks can plan their turns in advance.

Upon opening the box, you will find;
a gameboard,
54 cardboard item tiles,
4 cardboard destruction tokens,
15 cardboard hatch blocked tokens,
8 plastic gnome sailors playing the part of your avatars,
9 plastic time keepers
20 cardboard flood and fire tokens
8 player gnome cards
56 event cards

Everything seems to hold up well enough, although everything is pretty small, which should be no surprise upon seeing the box. Setup is pretty easy.

Put the Disaster Track markers upon the proper color track on the board,
Give everyone a card and time keeper the same color as their chosen gnome.
Take six Grog tiles from the item tile supply, and place them faceup by the Captain’s Cabin (I am starting to see WHY we have a problem here)
Take the rest of the item tiles, mix them up, and put them facedown within reach of all players
Everyone takes two items
Go through the event deck and set aside the Kraken card
Get ready for mayhem

The good news is that rescue is coming. The bad news is that it is one hour away. During that time, you need to keep the sub intact and yourselves alive. This introduces a mechanic that at least I have not seen in the past. The board has spaces that correlate to minutes. All of the time keepers get stacked upon one another at the appropriate spot (based upon the number of players). Everything you do takes time, as represented by the spaces around the board. Certain spots on the time track cause you to draw event cards when you pass them. These event cards cause all of the problems that you need to address as you play. The more time you spend moving or on a task, the more issues that crop up. Get too many things happen at the same time, you and your comrades will get into a heap of trouble. Fortunately, some of these spots also indicate you found some items, so all is not lost. Let’s dissect a turn.

Phase 1; Movement

You can move your gnome around the submarine pretty much as you like, and even leave the sub (although I recommend some protection to do so) Doing so takes time, and as time passes, bad things happen.

If you want to enter a room, you need to open that room’s hatch. Doing so takes one minute.

Entering the room takes no time, unless that room has taken on water. If it has, that will take you another minute.

Should you need to get from one side of the sub to the other, a good chunk of time can pass doing so.

Submarines were not made to traverse quickly after all, but instead to be compartmentalized so small disasters can be contained.

When moving, you move the ghost timer ahead of your time keeper so you can see how much time you have taken up.

Phase 2; Action

So, you got to your chosen destination. What can you do?

Fix It
The pressure is rising! The room is on fire! The missile is about to blow! The room is flooded! The hatch is blocked! We are running out of air! The reactor is going to blow! Is that a Kraken!!! There are all sorts of things that are going to need fixing during the course of the game, and someone is going to need to fix the problems so you can get past those problems to fix more problems…

So long as you are in the proper room, you can attempt to fix any problem present there. You will declare how many minutes you wish to spend working on the problem, and move the ghost token that many spaces. Then you roll the die. If you roll less than or equal to the amount of time you said you would spend on the task, you succeed, and there is one less thing to worry about. Should you fail, all is not lost, but the time you spent is. There are positive modifiers that can be applied, represented by items you can use to aid in the task (such as a fire extinguisher when fighting a fire) and negative modifiers (such as attempting to fix something in a room filled with water)

Item actions
When in room 8 or 10, you can find items to assist you in your quest to survive. Room 8 is the item storage. Here you can spend 1-4 minutes picking up gear. For every minute you spend, you get to draw one item tile.

Room 10 is the captain’s quarters, and the captain loves his alcohol. A player may spend up to two minutes taking grog from the captain’s stash, until it is gone. You get one per minute spent.

Most items are specific to a task, but grog is different. While other items give you a +4 modifier to your fix-it action, grog gives a +3, but that is a +3 to anything you may be doing. While that is great, every time you imbibe, you will need to increase your intoxication level (as represented on your player card) and make a faint check later in your turn.

Phase 3; Faint Check

So, you drank some grog. OK, hope that worked out for you. Now, let’s see if you can hold your liquor. Take an event card and look at the number in the lower right-hand corner. Should it be a dash, you are good. Otherwise, if the number shown is equal or less than the gnome’s current intoxication level, he passes out. This is bad.

First, you move the ghost timer up 10 spaces, so bad stuff is going to happen while you lie there doing nothing. This is going to put a greater strain on your shipmates, as they will not have your help keeping the sub intact. In addition to this, should a room fill with water, or a fire start in the room you are lying in your own filth in, you are a goner, since you cannot leave. Moral: Watch you grog intake!

Phase 4; Updates

During the final phase, you will move your token up to where the ghost timer is and draw an event card for every event marker you pass on the way there. Cause the appropriate events to happen, and you are done. Now, the player furthest back on the time track goes next. You do not go again until you are the furthest back. Occasionally, some players may go twice in a row.

There is also a potential traitor aspect to the game. As you play, you will eventually find an aqualung and harpoon. These items are used to battle the Kraken, who gets put back in the deck after it has been exhausted and shuffled. However, if you have the aqualung, you can choose to leave the ship once someone passes “10” on the time track. Once you do so, the victory conditions for you change. You win if everyone else dies. Should they survive, you lose.

That should be enough to get a feel for the gameplay. I get a kick out of this game, but that depends a great deal upon whom you play it with. People who take their winning and losing very seriously are not going to have a great time with this. Folks who can laugh when their character passes out and dies or get a bit of glee watching all their hard work go to pot when a tentacled monstrosity crushes the vessel should also have a good time. Most games are not for everyone, and this is no different. I have had a blast with this game every time I have played it, as I have the right group to play with. If this sounds like the people you like to play with, I encourage you to give this a try. Perhaps a joyride upon the great gnome vessel Red November is just the thing for your gaming vacation!

 
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2
9
48 of 55 gamers found this helpful
“Most fun Co-op game I've played to date”

First off, I’ll say the novel of a rulebook this game comes with a a little off-putting, but it’s not as complex or overwhelming as it seems to learn this game.

The quality of the pieces is good, so no complaints there.

As for gameplay, this game is a lot like Pandemic. Every turn more crazy things happen forcing players to put out fires before they eat up all the oxygen, or keep flooding waters from sinking the sub too fast. What’s really great about this game is the time mechanic during turns. Every turn you have, you can take as much time doing whatever tasks and moving as you feel like, but the more time you take, the farther you progress on the time track, and the more bad things happen in the sub.

I also enjoy that players can jump out and leave their friends for dead towards the end, and the fact that players are mortal, and can die very easily as a result of another players bad choices.

Overall I have to say this is the best co-op game I’ve played yet, mostly because of the time mechanic.

 
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4
Miniature Painter
It's All About Me
9
47 of 54 gamers found this helpful
“Love this Timing Mechanic!”

I love this game; I’ve played it in a large group, and small ones, and even solitaire a number of times. I have yet to play a game that handles turn order and timing in the simple and elegant fashion that this game does, with the track on the edge of the board.

Handling difficulty is easy, too; just have more gnomes for more challenge. And it has a great selection of optional rules once you get the hang of it.

Incredible to think that this game once was crammed into a narrow Silverline box. I’ve considered a DIY board for some time, because the components are small and built for that smaller box.

As a solitaire:

If you’re teaching yourself the game, one gnome is a good number. If you know what you’re doing, try running three, then set yourself some goals to beat (a certain number of turns to win, all gnomes surviving, etc) and it’s a beat-your-own-score as well as survival challenge, akin to Roll Through the Age’s solo mode.

 
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4
Scorpion Clan-Legend of the Five Rings
Arrowhead
8
47 of 55 gamers found this helpful
“A game that's fun to lose”

Before I even begin, Red November is as frustrating as it is hilarious. I know several people who despise it because it never feels like you’re gaining any ground, but that’s what makes it so much fun for me. When you’ve got a bunch of drunk gnomes trying to keep a submarine together, things are bound to go wrong.

Components: My experience with the game was with the smaller, first edition. It is my understanding that the revised edition has a more streamlined rulebook, a larger board and new item cards. That being said, the first edition was just fine for me and my friends and had components that lived up to the Fantasy Flight Games pedigree.

Rules: Red November’s rules were a little hinky to grasp at first. The revised rulebook is laid out a bit better and streamlines many of the mechanics, but I’d still be aware that your first go through might take a little more time than the recommended 60 minutes play time.

Gameplay: The premise behind Red November is that your crew of gnomish sailors is racing against the clock to keep their sub together while they desperately try and surface so that they can be rescued. In this case, the mechanics fit the theme very well. The Red November is a hunk of junk that makes the Millenium Falcon look like a ship of the line. Using a time track along the perimeter of the board, each play has the option of committing themselves to as many actions as they please. Each action takes you a certain number of steps along the time track – which itself is dotted with various events and mishaps. As you progress along the track, you’ll be forced to decide whether or not you want to keep fixing things and moving around or stop and wait for the events you’ve accumulated so far to resolve. Often times, this leads to getting all the way across the sub to put out a fire only to have the chamber you left start flooding. As more players are added to the chaos, things can go very badly very quickly. Teamwork is key – unless of course one of your mates decides to jump ship and leave the rest to sink to the bottom of the sea…

Overall: It seems like a lot of gamers aren’t too fond of Red November, but as a portable co-op game with a fair amount of depth it truly shines. Even the new revised edition can be thrown in a backpack and set up on the fly and the game is always good for a laugh. Players almost always start panicking after the first turn and the games deft mix of tension and humor is unique for a game of it’s stature.

 
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2
Canada
7
47 of 55 gamers found this helpful
“Enjoyable, hilarious co-op light game.”

Some reviews out there are very harsh towards that game, let’s just start by saying this game isn’t for everyone. It is light and to be taken lightly, if you’re looking for a challenging, strategic coop game where you know if you blow up every veins in your brain you’ll have a better chance of beating the game. It’s not one of these. Even with a team of mathematician if the cards aren’t in the mood and the planets aren’t aligned your very likely to get pounded like the weird red-headed kid on first day of school. No seriously, that’s one of the things you need to enjoy about that game before even thinking of appreciating your time with it. Enjoy the crazy grog-intoxicared time of desperation where everything is either on fire or flooded, while avoiding a choking out of oxygen and surviving a kraken attack and to make matters worst after one of your friend bolted on you to same is gnomish ***. That’s another rule that haven’t got unanimity among gamers. I actually like that rule. Again playing with the right players that are aware of what they are getting into and are in for an non-serious light game, you’ll in for a blast.

Be aware, there are some confusions in the rules. The second edition of the game (the bigger box)supposedly addressed theses issues.

Nonetheless it’s a nice game to have and have a laugh at.

 
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5
Finland
I play red
7
46 of 54 gamers found this helpful
“Have fun sinking!”

Me and my gaming group like cooperative games. We’ve played Arkham Horror inside out and I went looking for a new game. FFG’s Red November caught my attention and I went along with it. You could call it an impulse purchase.

I had my doubts whether my gaming group would like it after mastering Arkham Horror, it being a lot more complex and challenging in nature. However, Red November turned out to be a success among us due to its relatively quick gameplay and humorous atmosphere. The humour, which derives itself from submarine’s chaotic events and drunken gnomes, is a game winner for me. I’ve played good ten games of Red November now and it still often gets a second round during evening.

Heartily recommended for gnome fans, grog drinkers, chaos lovers, and people who are in need of a nice and quick filler game and who don’t mind dying awfully in a fire / high water / tentacles of the Kraken / other suitably graphic fashion.

And remember,
Grog and gnomes don’t mix too well!

 
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7
Guardian Angel
Baron / Baroness
USA
Miniature Painter
7
48 of 57 gamers found this helpful
“Giant Squid, Dead Astern!”

I bought this game in the original, smaller cheaper edition, but it’s basically the same (just pricier now).

The premise is that you all are crew-gnomes aboard the Red November, which is on it’s maiden voyage and not doing so well. in fact, it’s filling with water and about to be attacked by a Giant Squid!

You’re job is to try and survive.

So, you and your crew mates run around the ship doing things – grabbing gear which will help you, fixing things, etc – in furtherance of your not finding a watery grave or winding up as squid food.

I really like the turn system, which also acts as the countdown to the destruction of the Red November. You see, you’ve only got so many turns before the end hits, so on the double sailor!

Each time you want to do something, it takes 1 or more of these units of time. You can use more, if you want, and improve your odds of succeeding at what you’re trying to do, or grabbing more equipment, etc. But don’t run out of time!

As you used up time, you move a marker along the track. The remaining players than all take turns until their time marker matches whoever has used the most time up so far; thus simulating that while I take a lot of time fixing the engines, you can run around and do more things (but maybe fail at some of them). The flow of play is thus somewhat fluid.

It’s mostly a co-op game as you are all trying to survive, but there are some screw each other moments which come along, and, if you play your cards right, you can even take one for the team and swim out to fight the giant squid (probably dying in the attempt, but you get a posthumous award!)

 
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2
Rated My First Game
7
48 of 60 gamers found this helpful
“want to play again”

Played once and for the first time last night. Lots of rules! We were looking things up as we went and learning as we go – and realized all but one of us died at the very beginning (we all went to the equipment room and spent the same total minutes, then I left the room and a fire started in the equipment room). Original gameplay (in my experience). Had mostly casual gamers and all enjoyed (although the one female in the group got a little stressed about surviving). Took 2.5 hours to play, expect it would be much quicker the second time we, or anyone, plays.

 
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6
I play green
7
47 of 60 gamers found this helpful
“Fun adventure - but 8 gnomes is 3 too much.”

I have read about this one, heard the reviews and a few tales, and really enjoyed the idea of it. Looked forward to it for a long time. So last night the game group got it to the table… with 8 players. One of us had played a few solo rounds – that was about it. And, as noted in my title, I think 8 was way too many people crowded around this game. In fact, there was too much opportunity for distraction and another game broke out at a neighboring table. With 5 or less, this might have been a much better experience.
That said, I will DEFINITELY play this again. The premise is fun, the story is great, the challenge quite daunting. I could complain about the teeny time track – there not even room on it for the counters, so these were set on the table beside the track. Kinda odd. And the “hobbit cards” are a little annoying – I’d rather see full-size cards in any game. I didn’t get the “grog” significance in the game – must have missed something.
Overall, I do recommend Red November – but I suspect it will play WAY better with 5 or less. Good luck – it’s tough!

 
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3
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
2
47 of 97 gamers found this helpful
“Novelty value only”

This game is one of those that look great on paper, when you’re a little bit tipsy, in a bar, close to las call.

The game has two ways to win and lots of ways to loose. And one of the win conditions is that everyone else drowns while you go away and wait for it to end.

Not the best game in the market and not even close to a good one.

A easy party game at the best but would rather recommend something that you would like to play a second time.

 
Player Avatar
5
BoardGaming.com Beta 1.0 Tester
US Army Service
4
48 of 110 gamers found this helpful
“Too small”

Find that the small board takes away greatly from this game. Very excited to see FF has released a larger version.

 

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