Thursday, December 16, 2004

Big Drunken Tiger Kickboxer : Fatal Killer

It's a semi random title, and although it was actually the name of our hand of "Kung Fu Samurai", it appropriately sums up the theme of the evening: Frankenstein creations.

The bulk of the evening was spent playing an unholy union of HeroClix and Robo Rally (RoboClix? HeroRally?). Essesntially, we formed teams, as usual, but played on the RoboRally boards. To make up for the relative freedom of movement alloed to us by ditching the programming cards, we made the course pretty long... 4 boards, start flag int he center and the next 4 flags in the corners (in such a way that the board needed to be crossed diagonally between flags). In RoboRally, that would be a recipe for a 16 hour game, in Robo-Clix (Henceforth christened) it took about 1 1/2. Since I'm a HeroClix dummy (I'm not a comic book fan, and therefore can't really tell the superheros apart, or know what they are supposed to do), I picked my team based on cool figurines. I wound up with Iceman, Doc Oc and a sniper. I don't really recall the other teams that well, but here goes: Luch had Blade, Daredevil and a blue/orange guy with a gun; Kozure had Captain America, Storm and another girl, Shemp had Jeanne Gray, Toad and Rogue.

Either way, random beat out knowledgeable this night, as I somehow cruised to victory. Doc Oc seems to be the ultimate RoboClix character, since his combination of leadership (which potentially allows a second action), Willpower (which allows pushing without damage) and climbing (which allows him to break away without rolling, and otherwise ignore character and terrain hindrances) proved extremely powerful. Iceman, with his ability to put up barriers, could also have been very useful... (Side note: My original plan was to put up barriers around the flags and have Doc Oc climb in and out on successive actions... I wasn't really able to get the timing right. Oh, and Ice Man died).

Other MVPs:
Kozure's Captain America, since he was in second place
Shemp's Jeanne Gray, for throwing many a character into a pit.
Luch's Blade, for taking a lickin' and keepin' on tickin'

All in all, a fun game. It improves on HeroClix by making the terrain an important feature, and for giving direction to an otherwise random fight-fest. I'm still a little uncomfortable with the rules (esp. the move OR fight rule, which gives an ENORMOUS advantage to the few characters who can do both... like the magneto clan). Also, I realized that if I had been killed, I would have been twiddling my thumbs for an hour or so until the game ended (since everyone else had pretty much abandoned chasing the flag in order to take me down). I think that Kozure's suggestion was a good one: Take the team to 200 points, so that more actions can be undertaken concurrently (chase the flag AND kill the leader).

Next up was Kung-Fu Samurai, a silly card game involving making a movie and sending your protagonists and antagonists to fight the characters of other movies... or something. Either way, the game was fun (and funny). This one is firmly entrenched in the Star Munchkin/ Chez Geek "play to have a good time" type game. Strategy is pretty much nil, it's mostly about having a chuckle at the cards and seeing how the whole thing plays out (oh yeah, and you get to make up a kung fu movie title at the beginning, too!). Draw cards, fortify yourself, screw yer neighbour, end your turn. Draw cards, fortify yourself, screw yer neighbour, end your turn. That type of thing. More than Star Munchkin or Chez Geek, there is quite a bit of text to read, and more cards in your hand each turn, which slows things down a bit more than the others. It's probably my least favorite of the three, but still fun for what it is.

RoboClix: 6.5
Kung Fu Samurai: 5.5


  1. Just for the record, I found the HeroClix FAQ to look into whether the Leap/Climb ability allows characters to automatically break away.

    LEAP / CLIMB: Replace the text with the following: (optional): When you give this character a move action, it automatically breaks away and ignores the effects of characters, hindering terrain, and outdoor blocking terrain on movement. This character may end its movement on elevated or outdoor blocking terrain. This character may target a non-soaring or soaring figure with a close combat action, regardless of the target’s elevation.It does indeed appear Doc Oc is the way to go in HeroRally.

    Link to FAQ here:

    I enjoyed HeroClix. I think with repeated playings, the relative unfamiliarity of powers and their uses becomes less daunting and the game becomes more enjoyable as a result. It suffers, of course, from the usual "we're just clobbering each other" issues as Epic Duels, which limits game play potential, but house rules and scenarios can certainly help to rememedy that.

    Kung Fu Samurai on Giant Robot Island, as Easy points out, is more theme than anything else. In additional plays, however, certain strategies do become more apparent. The game is heavily dependent upon three factors:

    1. At least four players. This game falls down with three players and is virtually broken with two.

    2. A complete willingness to shrug off setbacks and "screw your neighbour" constantly. You must be constantly on the attack in this game.

    3. Have a group of players who are both familiar with the genre and capable of injecting some life into play actions by "dramatization". Without it, this game is dull, dull, dull.

    I enjoy this game, but it is not a stellar design and has many flaws, especially the "card-specificity" flaw found in many games with card collections that can be expanded like Duel of Ages. If you have cards which seem to only combine well with one or two other cards or characters, and you can double or quadruple the number of cards in the deck by adding expansions, the odds of getting that very specific combination play is remote.

    This has the effect of making some cards next to useless (save on those rare occasions where you get the right combo) while other cards can be dramatically more effective.

    This is a game balance issue. I suspect the designer did not plan to have multiple expansions when initially designing the first game in the series.

    I found a great critique on BGG:

    "My comments here could be a copy of my comments for the original game(Grave Robbers from Outer Space). Heavy on the theme, though it isn't too tightly tied to the game mechanics. Game mechanics are highly luck based, and in my experience the decks have too high a balance of special 'bang, your character is dead with no options for defense unless you have one of the two special cards that counter special cards' versus number of character/prop/location cards. This game adds two new game mechanics which could be interesting, if it weren't for the fact that they're unneeded due to the aforementioned balance issue. Gets some plays despite the game mechanics flaws due to people enjoying the theme. I really need to either track down, or make up, house rules to balance all these games better, they'd be great filler/beer and pretzel type games with some tweaks, but as is they're weak games that get average marks by virtue of good theming."

  2. Yeah, that comment on KungFuSamurai about nails it. A 5 from Shemp.

    The HeroClix variation was pretty fun - I think that familiarity improves this game, and I also think that adding compelling scenarios add a ton to this game, and it is fun to bust out once in a while. (Ugh. Bad run-on sentence.) I would like to try this again, with a different map and more points to use. Kozure's 200 pt suggestion would be just fine. A 6.5 for HeroClix (which is what it really was), as the game just keeps creeping up there in my estimation.

    And yeh, Capture the Flag would be fun next time.