In video games, there is a game genre called first-person shooter, which basically playing a guy / dude with his point of view and shoot things up. If you are a video gamer, you will easily name some games with this genre, like Doom, Counter Strike, Quake, Call of Duty, Battlefield and such. And there’s a tabletop game that people think, is using the same mode of play. But not directly I guess, cause it’s different in a big way, though somehow it conveys the feeling for a fps game. It is called Adrenaline, one of some new released titles from Czech Games Edition, designed by Filip Neduk. So let’s get down to it and check what it has to offer us.
The Theme and Artworks
There’s nothing special on the backstory, it’s just a death match in a industrial world with characters in different appearance. Sounds simple and boring, but hey they are here to drop some bodies, not tell stories, makes sense to me. The artworks work fine and nicely made, not something spectacular but it’s drawn for purpose inline with the theme. The death match takes place in a locked compound with several rooms, the game board illustrated this map in eagle eye view, shows the different rooms with different colors to make it easier to recognize. In the other hand, the weapons look cool.
Miniatures, yeah it has minis, just 5 pieces but hey better than none at all. Players have their figures based on color (five colors, you can play up to 5 players in this game) and each figure is different in shape and model. There are a space soldier, a steam punk girl, a robot and two different alien races. The figure’s colors are very stand-out and easy to see, especially on the board, so this is good. The other components are hit point plastic tokens in each player color. These tokens are tear drop shaped, like a drop of blood. Players will pass these tokens when they hit someone with their weapons to mark their point for majority. Aside from the tokens there are plastic semi-transparent cubes for the ammo, ammo tiles, victory point tiles in many denominations and the cards. The cards have 2 types, Weapon cards and Power-Up cards. Weapon cards are unusually over-sized with 61×112 mm in size, while the Power-Up cards are small with 45x68mm in size. The cards quality is good, very smooth though it’s not a linen finish. The game box is unusual, a bit larger than the normal size box like Agricola. So it’s kinda bit hard to keep your shelf neat to store it side by side with another box.
The Game Play
First of all, the goal of the game is to get the most points, nothing else matter. So in this game players running around, grab weapons and shoot others. Before the game starts players get their own player board along with the hit point tokens, figure, ammo cubes and action tile of their color and also 2 random Power-Up cards. The board is set based on number of players configuration (it’s flexible and you can use any preferable setup despite the recommended setup). Place a random ammo tile on each room space on the board that doesn’t show spawn or weapon slot, set aside the other tiles face down next to the game board. Shuffle the weapon cards, reveal and place the cards on the weapon spaces (there should be 9 weapon cards on the board, 3 for each weapon slot). Place the rest of the weapon cards on the weapon deck slot along with the Power-Up deck. Randomize the first player, and give him/her the first player tile. The game is ready to start.
To start, starting from the first player, they need to play one of the two Power-Up cards they have to decide where their figure will spawn. A Power-Up card has a specific effect and cube with specific color. The color can be used during spawn or re-spawn, to determine where the figure will enter the board. The rooms are separated into 3 colors or more, the red blue and yellow color has a spawn point, the same color as the ammo type. During players’ turn they can take 2 actions. The actions are Move, Grab and Shoot. They can take the same action twice. After taking two actions, they reload and end their turn. Then next player clockwise take their turn.
A. Move Action
During the course of the game, players need to move around the board through rooms and spaces. The Move action lets players to move up to three spaces (single square space). They can move orthogonally adjacent from one space to another as long it’s not blocked by a wall. A room can constitutes from a single space or more than one space. A room is separated from another room by a door.
B. Grab Action
There are two things that a player can grab, a weapon card or ammo tile. Players can grab a weapon when they are on the weapon spot. The can choose one weapon from the available 3 (at most, can be less than) weapon cards on its corresponding slots. A weapon may have a cost to acquire and players can pay the cost from their available ammo supply. When they take the weapon card, they keep it on their hand, it is considered loaded and can be used when players take the shoot action. They can only have at most 3 weapons, so if they want to take the fourth weapon, they have drop one of theirs in the respected slot. When players take an ammo tile, they take ammo cubes shown on the tile from the their general supply and place it on their ammo box. A player can only have 3 ammo cubes from each color at any time, so any excess is wasted. If there’s a Power-Up symbol on the tile, players draw a Power-Up card from the deck (they can only have at most 3 cards by the end of their turn).
C. Shoot Action
Players can shoot other players if they have at least one loaded weapon and have a valid target. A target is considered valid based on several factor, the line of sight and weapon effect. Players can only shoot one weapon in a single action, shooting a weapon means place the weapon card from their hand to the table, the weapon is considered unloaded and need to be reloaded in order to take the card back to players hand.
Line of Sight, in general term is the range that a player can see a target. Players can see figures who are on the same room, while if a player figure in a space with a door, that player can see any figures located on the room connected with that door regardless their distance. Imaginatively that figure take a peek from the door into the other room and can see anyone inside that room. Beside the line of sight, valid target also decided based on the weapon’s effects. In this games, the weapons are one-of-a-kind and have various effects. When a player shoot a target, that target receives damage based on the weapon used. To mark this, the shooter give the target their hit point tokens which are placed on the life tracker of the target. For first blood (first damage to a target), the shooter get one point. When the amount of hit point token that a target has in their track equal as their hit points, they’re killed. When killed, the figure is removed from the board and scoring takes place based on damage majority. The killer gets to claim a spot on kill track by placing one hit point token on the track, or two if they overkill the target (by placing one more hit point than it’s necessary to kill a target). After the player already finishes his/her turn, the killed player draw one Power-Up card from the deck (even they already have 3 cards) and choose to discard one to determine where their figure will re-spawn. After get killed, that player place a skull token taken from the kill track on the empty left most point on their board, next time they get killed, the score gets less and less interesting.
After players take 2 actions, they end their turn by reloading, they can pay ammo cubes to take one or more weapon cards placed in front of them back into their hand by paying full the cost listed on the card.
The game continues until the last skull token is used and then one final turn takes place. When the game end, players tally up their points, player with most points wins the game.
The Replay Value
I honestly think that the game has little replay value. The variations come from different weapons, different board setup and game modes are not enough to bring the game fresh in each play. Basically you just running around trying to kill others. Even all the weapons are one-of-a-kind, you can find out and feel almost all of them in a single game. The game also comes in several modes to play. The basic one is Deathmatch mode is like free for all mode, where you can running around and kill everyone you encounter to get the most points. Aside from that, there are Domination mode and Turret mode. I have played Domination mode, once but didn’t see the good in it, the game feels too fast than it should in 3-players and found it to be quite quirky. Turret mode should be different, since players can set trap and hit the turret. It shifts the aim of the game and makes it more tactical if I am not mistaken by reading the rules. I think it is ease to expand the game, to add another new contents into the game. New various weapons would provide fresh taste to the old game, so it could be promo weapons or something completely different by offering new set of iconic weapons in games or maybe real life. There also different modes that the game can be implemented, such as tag team, zone, time based, capture the flag and others. These new different mode surely give new taste on the bud. Or maybe introducing character abilities as new element or new map setups would make the game more interesting.
My Thought About The Game
I think the game does work well, it offers you new genre and feel to play. Maybe there are other shooting table top games out there, but none of them are just like this simple, easy to learn and yet so real to simulate the shooting genre. As people been saying that this game is a first person shooting game, well practically it’s different and not right to label it that way. For those who have not try the game yet might not agree with that since there’s nothing at all that describe the first person element. Yes you shoot people around, but not from the shooter perspective like an fps should. You still look it on the bird’s eye view, from top view of the game where you can see all the locations, all the figures and others. This is so oppositely different from a first person shooter. But, maybe in a way, you will feel there’s a slight taste or feel on the game play that reflects that first person element. For me, it is and after all, it doesn’t matter it is true or not, as long as you enjoy it. Personally I think the game does brilliantly convey the mechanic and theme into a very streamline and smooth shooting game while maintains or introduces new strategic factor into it by making the game as Euro game. Yup, I bet many of you didn’t see that coming. Taking from the visual, theme and style the game looks like, you would consider this game to be more of an Ameritrash game than Euro, it’s more make sense. But no, it’s an Area Majority euro game in disguise. Yes, killing and shooting people doesn’t feel gory in here, no blood splattered and no heads got blown off. There are only point crunching for majority, the rest are necessities. While you think the game is about killing and killing, it turns out to be efficiency and opportunity grabs. Your priority is getting the most points, not rolling heads, though killing your enemies sounds intriguing and fun. But in the end it’s about who has the most points. And last bu not least, there’s no player elimination (yes I know most of you do not like that, so its a plus right?).
I think the game is very simple, you can explain the rules under 15 minutes and new players are able to pick the rules rather quickly than most games. The obvious obstacle is the weapons effect. Since all the weapons are one-of-a-kind, the weapon cards only provide icon descriptions on it, though I must admit they work hard to design it as clearly as they can, which I think they did rather splendidly. Though simple icons cannot equal the power of texts and sentences to convey the real definition of something, I believe with one play experience, players will easily pick up the definition of the iconography. So first play can be a challenge. They also try to design the game with balance in mind, since this game type can lead to bullying or player bashing, they use the point reducing for a solution. Each time a figures is killed, he/she is less worthy to be killed again. This create balance on players targeting another in a brilliant way. Okay, players can ignore this but the real aim for the game is most points, so ignoring the rules can lead the players definitely not winning. There’s also an interesting part in the over-kill aspect. When players get over-killed, they set revenge by placing one of their hit point to the tag area of the killer, this way, it gives them incentives to hunt down their killer to get an additional damage.
While the game has different map setups based on number of players, the game is free to be played in any map setup from small, medium or large. Even the large map with 4/5 players it doesn’t feel big. In short, while the game has dude running around the map shooting something, the real is that the game is about getting points from precisely timed shooting opponents. You won’t get lost in it, most of players turn they can shoot somebody because most of the location is reachable with a single turn. I think this is a plus, since it won’t be so fun chasing around people and cannot reach them. The compound is specifically designed to be compact and minimized the labyrinth / maze aspect of the map, avoiding long alleys and secluded area and also dead end. Yup no dead end, all rooms are connected.
So in overall I love the game, it feels new, fresh and very easy to play. I like how dynamic the game is, highly interactive and offers a lot of game changer during the game. I love the weapons and how keeping three of them can create combos, also using the Power-Ups. The components are okay, and in addition, this still an Euro game at heart. Sadly my wife doesn’t completely agree with me. Shooting each other around is not a theme she kindly favored. But for those of you who think shooting weapons is fun and want to add strategy element while shooting people, this might be a good choice.