Had this on my wish list for literally years, and viola it appeared on Admodee’s holiday sale site for an absurd price. It’s by the same guy who did the Archipelago board game.
You learn to play by going through nine tutorials. Nine! And…wow. It is elaborate and detailed and brain-breakingly tough. And that’s just the first three scenarios. Honestly? I’d call this the High Frontier of tactical mini games.
So far the killer app of the game is the order token system. You have a little selection of these tokens you draw blind from a bag. The chit is divided into four areas, each with a different action symbol: close combat, shoot, move, search, uh, other symbols I haven’t learned yet. They’ll be marked from 1-4, which tells you how many of your command tokens you can invest in that action. So when you activate a piece, you give it an order token, assign command tokens for the various actions (up to the character’s per-turn limit) and do stuff.
Later you find out that the color dots the numbers are in mean something, like sometimes you can interrupt with an action and sometimes you can’t. There’s a whole “dueling” system where you’re interrupting each other if you have the tokens and the right actions in the right dot colors.
Again, that’s just the third scenario. We’re still on the bunny slopes.
The premise of the game is super, super weird. There’s NORAD and there’s the Salemites, called such because mad scientists under Salem, Mass have created zombies. Okay sure, whatever. The NORAD side only gets three agents, while the Salemites get way more (and various zombies).
There is some unfortunate gross sexism, with one of the NORAD agents lugging around these melons bigger than her head. Oh! And she’s got this influence over the Salemites’ most dangerous zombie, Franck Einstein. Right? But the zombie loves her and she can sometimes take control of the beast. It’s a clever mechanical gesture that nearly makes me forget about the melon-laden hottie.
The rest of the setting background is Rifts-level gonzo, no single idea left behind no matter how weird. The scenario book dedicates pages and pages to this stuff.
Okay but the game, right, is so innovative and so complex. It’s really no surprise that it didn’t go anywhere, and what a shame because it could use a teeny bit of expansion.
On the other hand, once you’ve played through the tutorials, there’s a scenario generating system that gives you pretty much infinite replayability. I have no idea what the game looks like with all nine tutorials under my belt.