Saturday, July 28, 2018

Board Game Review: Rampage / Terror in Meeple City

In 2013, Repos productions released a game called Rampage. It was inspired by, and in part, based on the 1986 video game of the same name. Alas, Repos had not secured the rights to use this name, and so in June of 2014, the game was rereleased as Terror in Meeple City.

I recently got to play a game with a friend of mine. He had managed to acquire one of the original Rampage versions right as the new edition was being released. So the photos I have will look slightly different from what you can expect to find if you go out and buy the current Terror in Meeple City.

With that said, let's get on to the review, staring (as always) with some numbers!

Strategy and Randomness are rated from 0 to 6. A 0 means the rated aspect plays no part in determining the game's outcome; and a 6 means that it is the only factor that determines the game's outcome. Complexity is also rated from 0 to 6; a 0 means that it's so simple a six-year-old can play it, a 3 means any adult should have no trouble playing, and a 6 means that you'll need to refer to the rulebook frequently. Humour can be rated as 'None,' meaning the game is not meant to be funny, or it may have one or more of the following: Derivative (meaning the humour is based on an outside source, such as a game based on a comedy film), Implicit (meaning that the game's components are funny, such as humourous card text), or Inherent (meaning that the actions the players take are funny). Attractiveness has nine possible ratings. Ideal: the game is beautiful and makes game play easier. Pretty: The design is beautiful and neither eases nor impedes game play. Nice: The design is beautiful but makes game play harder than necessary. Useful: The design is neither beautiful nor ugly, but eases gameplay. Average: The design is neither beautiful nor ugly, and neither eases nor impedes gameplay. Useless: The design is neither beautiful nor ugly, but makes gameplay harder than it needs to be. Utilitarian: The design is ugly, but eases gameplay. Ugly: The design is ugly, and neither eases nor impedes gameplay. Worthless: The design is ugly, and makes gameplay harder than it needs to be. Average Length of Game Play describes how long an average game will probably last, give or take. Gamer Profile Ratings measures how strongly a game will appeal to players based on their interest in one of four areas. These areas are measured as High, Medium, or Low. Strategy describes how much a game involves cognitive challenges, thinking and planning, and making sound decisions. Conflict describes how much direct hostile action there is between players, from destroying units to stealing resources. Social Manipulation describes how much bluffing, deceiving, and persuading there is between players. Fantasy describes how much a game immerses players in another world, another time.

Strategy: 1
Randomness: 2
Complexity: 0
Humour: Inherent
Attractiveness: Pretty
Average Length of Game Play: 30 minutes
Gamer Profile Ratings:
  Strategy: Low
  Conflict: Low
  Social Manipulation: Low
  Fantasy: High

An overview of Terror in Meeple City

Run, puny humans! Flee in terror from the monsters destroying your city!

Ahem. Pardon me.

In Terror in Meeple City, players take on the roles of giant lizard monsters rampaging (sorry) through the city, destroying buildings and eating people. This is, for the most part, a dexterity game, though dexterity honestly has little to do with it. It's more of a physics game, but even then, it's so hard to predict what the components will do that it may almost be seen as completely random.

Here's how it works: the board has a number of buildings, which are made up of several thick cardboard 'floors,' stacked on top of one another by propping them up with meeples at each corner. Perhaps this photo will help you to understand what I mean:

The board at the beginning of the game. A purple lizard monster stands on the corner of the board with a red monster visible on the far corner. The board is made to look like a bird's-eye view of a city; some of the spaces on this board are areas for buildings. These spaces have a meeple in each corner, with a cardboard rectangle on top of them. Four more meeples are on the corner of this rectangle, with another rectangle on top of them. This is topped by a third layer of four meeples and a rectangle; a single meeple stands in the centre of this top rectangle.

Players get two actions each turn. They may use these actions to move and/or to attack. 

Moving is accomplished by removing the monster body (the main part of the monster, the upright portion visible in the photo above) from the 'paws' (the disc on which the body stands). The 'paws' may then be flicked with the fingers across the board.

Attacking may be done in one of three ways:
  1. Demolish. If your monster's paws are touching the sidewalk around the base of a building, you may demolish that building by holding your monster's body in your hand, with your arm perfectly level as you sit in a chair, and dropping it on the building.
  2. Toss a vehicle. If your monster is in a neighbourhood (one of the colour-coded sections of the city represented on the board) with a vehicle token in it (you can see a vehicle in the photo above, just to the right of the building in the foreground), you may place that vehicle on your monster's head and flick it off with your finger, ideally knocking over one or more buildings.
  3. Breathe. You may place your chin on the top of your monster's head and try to knock over the buildings by blowing on them.
This will result in some of the buildings being partially or completely knocked over, like so:

A similar view of the board, this time from the point of view of the blue monster with the green and red monsters visible in the background. However, this time, some of the cardboard 'floors' of the buildings have been knocked off the stack onto the board, and the meeples have likewise been knocked around.

After your two actions, you may eat any meeples that are on the ground (or any building floors that are touching the ground) in your neighbourhood, up to the number of teeth you currently have (you start with six, but may lose up to four of those teeth as you take damage in various ways). 

However, any meeples that fall off the board are considered to have escaped, and as the number of escaped meeples increases, bad things will start happening to your monsters.

Permutations

Each player has a character card which grants bonus points if you fulfill certain conditions at the end of the game, a power card which grants you a special ability, and a secret superpower card, which also grants you a special ability but is hidden until you use it, and may only be used once.

There are a few other minor details as well, but they're not really important for understanding how the game works.

Ending a Game of Terror in Meeple City

Once the last building floor has been eaten or knocked off the board, all players get one last turn. Alternately, if the board used to keep track of escaped meeples is completely filled, the game ends immediately with the current player being disqualified from winning.

Each player scores ten points for each set of meeples in all six colours that the monster has eaten. They also score one point for each building floor they ate, two points for each point of damage they did to other players' monsters, and any applicable bonus points from character cards. The player with the most points wins.

Final Thoughts on Terror in Meeple City

I'm disappointed that they didn't get permission to use the Rampage name. I enjoyed playing the video game back when I was a teenager, and it would have been awesome to get to play a board game version of it. Still, whichever version you have, I personally think it's a delightful light-hearted romp through whimsically wanton destruction. It's great for kids as well as the 'young at heart.' 

But as always, we'll finish with a look at the Six Characteristics of a Great Game:
  • It's fun to lose.
  • It has no player elimination.
  • It ends decisively.
  • It relies on player agency.
  • It allows for upsets.
  • It's not overly complicated.
All six. Excellent!

Of course, that doesn't mean you'll like it. But hopefully, you can decide for yourself based on this review whether you'll like it or not! And whatever you decide, I hope you never fail to

Game on!

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