Even though I missed by FLGS’s board game night this week, I still managed to get a few games in! Trudi, Blake and I found the time to try one cooperative game that got a lot of buzz and one competitive game that just hit the shelves late last month.
The Grizzled is a cooperative game that supports 2-5 players who take on the roles of WWI soldiers in the trenches of Europe. Through the careful balance of playing Threat cards from their hands the players attempt to navigate the horrors of the war without exposing themselves to too much of any single threat. The deck of cards in the game contains Trials Cards that are divided into Threat Cards and Hard Knock Cards. First, the Threat Cards:
In the game the threats are Night, Snow, Rain, Gas Masks (representative of the chemical attacks present during the trench warfare), Shells (artillery strikes), and Whistles (representing the signal for an infantry assault into No Man’s Land).
Each of the Threat cards represents at least two different threats. For example, in the picture above, the card to the left counts as a Shell Threat and a Rain Threat. During a mission, which is conducted by the players playing these cards from their hands into No Man’s Land, there can never be 3 of the same threat present or else the mission is a failure.
To make matters worse, the Hard Knock Cards are attached to the players and remain attached even after a mission is completed until “healed”. These cards can really gum up the works as they add to the number of Threats present, limit players’ ability to make strategic choices, and count as wounds. If a player has too many Hard Knock Cards, that player’s character dies. If one “player” dies, the game is over.
During the course of the game players are not allowed to know which threats the other players have been dealt, so playing the correct cards at the right time is a mixture of calculated risk and luck. Players attempt to play through as many cards as they can because time is against them. Whenever a mission ends, more Trials Cards are added to the stack of cards the players must run through, and that resource is finite. Once the reserve cards (another deck) are depleted the game is over and the players lose.
Trudi, Blake and I did our best with our first play through of The Grizzled, but we were perhaps a little too cautious. I think we used some of our Good Luck Charms too early as we did our best to not lose any Missions. I didn’t cover those, nor did I touch on Withdrawing from a Mission or the use of Support Tokens. To be a small box game there’s a lot to The Grizzled, and you’ll just have to check it out for yourself to see how strategic and stressful it truly is. We had a blast playing it!
Outcome – We lost, but I’m glad. I like challenging cooperative games and I am looking forward to trying The Grizzled again!
During the same gaming session as The Grizzled, Trudi and Blake joined me again for Ravenous River. Ravenous River is a small box game from AEG where players are secretly given a Totem Animal who they must guide across the river. During the short journey the players’ animals must avoid being eaten by the animal above them in the food chain while scoring extra points for eating the animal below them.
For example, if a player’s Totem Animal is the Cat that player must try to get the Cat to safety while avoiding the Fox. Along the way, that player will get score extra for having the Cat eat the Mouse. Here’s the kicker though; one doesn’t simply control their own animal. All players can manipulate all 7 of the animals through the use of Action Cards.
The players take turns placing animals either on the bank of the river or in one of the two boats. A player can discard an Action Card to move animal from the bank to a boat, or from a boat to the bank. At the end of a round if the Lion and the Bull are in the same boat (or on the bank together), the Lion will eat the Bull. If the Bull was your Totem Animal then you’re out of luck. Players get points for their animals eating other animals (as long as they survive), and surviving until the end of the round.
Remember that Lion that ate the Bull? Once the boats are resolved the animals in them cross the river to the Home area, where they have another chance to eat/be eaten. If the Mouse crossed over in the other boat, the Lion is now eaten/beaten/scared away.
Ravenous River is a lot of fun and the Action Cards can be used in multiple ways, greatly adding to the strategic depth of the game. The game is fast so the 3 of us were able to get in 4 games of it.
Outcome – I won twice, once by pure luck and the other time by using my keen, predatory intellect. The other two games were won by who cares I won twice!