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RED NOVEMBER

Reviewed by Chris Kovac

RED NOVEMBER (Fantasy Flight Games, 2-8 players, ages 12 and up, 1-2 hours; $24.95)

 

Red November is a humorous 2-8 player cooperative designed by Bruno Faidutti and Jeff Contier. This small box game is published by Fantasy Flight games as part of their Silver Line series of light gamer games. This game is set in a world ruled by gnomes who build nuclear subs. The Russian gnomes(players) are trying to keep their poorly built sub afloat battling the numerous floods, fires, equipment malfunctions and the occasional hungry Kraken until they can get rescued.

The small board (only about the size of a large paperback) is set up in the middle of the table with all the minor disaster tracks (asphyxiation, heat and pressure) set to zero. Each player starts with a playing piece (placed randomly in the sub to begin with), a gnome card (more on this later in the review) and a time rednovemberto keep track of actions (starting point on the time track varies with the number of players). You also get two pieces of equipment drawn randomly from the equipment pile. The game uses the timing mechanism from Jensiets Von Theben aka Thebes (Fall 2007 GA REPORT) to determine whose turn it is. Using this gaming mechanism, the player who is furthest behind keeps taking turns until his marker passes a marker of another player. If players are tied the person who is on top of a time space (got there last) takes a turn.

Once you have reached the room of your choice you may perform an action. This is usually either fixing some sort or equipment in order to keep the sub afloat (some disasters can only be fixed in certain rooms), drawing equipment if you are in the store room or getting vodka in the captain’s cabin. Each action can cost between 1-10 minutes (plus an extra 2 minutes if the room is partially flooded). The more time you spend on an action the more likely you are to succeed since you must roll under the time you spent on an action using a 10 sided die. The time you use is kept track by a white neutral time marker (ghost marker). Equipment gives you bonuses to fix certain types of disasters and vodka gives a bonus to the action die roll but decreases your sobriety if used. After your action, you do a faint check if your gnome has had a drink of vodka because each drink inebriates your gnome even further You keep track of your sobriety using the gnome card by turning it a quarter turn per drink.

You draw a card from the event deck and if the number in the lower right hand corner of the card matches or is less than your sobriety number, you pass out. You advance your time marker ahead 10 time spaces and, until you have another turn, your gnome is asleep sleeping off the booze. (Your sobriety card resets when you wake up.) If the room in which your sleeping gnome floods or catches fire while you are asleep, you are eliminated from the game making survival that much tougher for the surviving gnomes. The final part of a player’s turn is to move your coloured time piece to the space where the ghost market sits. Each space you pass with a red star means you have to draw an action card and perform the actions stated on the card. These are usually bad such as flooding compartments, increasing or starting fires or occasionally triggering a major disaster. Major disasters (missile countdown, reactor meltdown, kraken, crush and asphyxiation) are placed 10 to 15 places ahead of a player from the current time space of your marker. If all players pass this spot before this disaster is fixed by the appropriate action, the sub sinks and the players lose the game. When you pass a time space with a white star, you get to randomly draw a piece of equipment. If all players get to the end of the time track without a disaster destroying the sub, the players win. A single player can win if he leaves the sub rednov2the aqualung (only in the last 10 turns) and the sub is destroyed. (If it survives, he is shot by the survivors.)

This game is about the players cooperating to fix the numerous disasters before they get too serious and sink the sub. However if the players spend too much time doing actions, more event cards are drawn causing more disasters; spend too little and you can fail at fixing a disaster and get overwhelmed by the disaster you are trying to prevent.

Overall the game has a nice sense of humor and reminds me in some ways of the old Awful Green Things from Outer Space minus the monsters (disasters replace the monsters except for the Kraken). This is a nice light cooperative game good for killing some time between heavy games or playing at the cottage with the family (the humorous theme helps). I found the rule book, equipment tiles, cards and board well made. The rules are fairly well written though lack any examples of play. The plastic gnome figures did have the tendency to fall down occasionally and the locked door pieces were a bit small so big fingers might have a time grasping them. The text on the small cards can be a bit hard to read on occasion if under difficult lighting or if you have trouble reading small text. These faults are fairly minor and do not detract that much from the game. So if you feel for a light cooperative game with a sense of humour, Red November is a good choice. – – – – – – – – – Chris Kovac


 

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