Revised by Andrea “Liga” Ligabue
ADRENALINE (Czech Games Edition, 3 to 5 players, ages 10 and up, 30-60 minutes; $69.99)
Year after year, video games and boardgames are coming closer and closer. A lot of video games are getting a tabletop version: Starcraft, Gears of Wars, Doom, Civilization. On the other side, almost all of the best boardgames are getting a digital edition for tablet and/or PC and that’s without considering all the websites devoted to online boardgaming. What Adrenaline is actually offering is something more: a boardgame that tries to emulate what are actually mechanisms typical of video games.
Adrenaline, as designed by Filip Neduk, is a first-person shooter boardgame. During the game, players grab some ammo and weapons and go to kill other players. This is a quick diceless game, much more strategic that what can be divined by just reading the rules. The game works well with 3, 4 and 5 players.
The game board is made of two double-sided pieces that can be combined into 4 different areas according to the number of players. The map is made of rooms divided into one or more spaces. Every player has a player board and 9 ammo cubes in 3 different colors. You start the game with a weapon. During the game, you use cubes to get new weapons or reload. As in modern first-player shooting video games, every time you are killed, you “spawn” (reappear) on the map.
During your turn, you can just take two actions: Run, Grab Stuff and/or Shoot. You can take the same action twice.
You can move from 1 to 3 spaces: changing rooms doesn’t cost you an extra move. The Grab Stuff action lets you move just one space and take a new weapon or ammo. In every spawn square (3 on the map), there are 3 different weapons. Buying a weapon costs you cubes. To get new cubes, you can grab some ammo counters that are on some squares on the map. You need to get ammo in the game since you can use a weapon just once before needing to reload it using cubes.
Cubes come in three different colors and, of course, every weapon requires a different combination of cubes to get it and to reload. You can have at most three different weapons.
Finally you can shoot, using one of your weapons. Normally you shoot at a player you are able to see (meaning in your room or in an adjacent one if you are close to a door). When a player is killed, the opponent that deals the most damage scores 8 points, the second one 6 and so on. There is a bonus for the player dealing the first damage; every time you deal damage to another player you put tokens in your color (shaped like “drops”) on the other player’s board.
So, what do you do on your turn ? Usually, you move and try to shoot other players because that is the way to score. Try to be the first to shoot, to get the extra point bonus, and the one dealing the most damage. Dealing the final damage (killing another player) will give you extra points at the end of the game.
Adrenline is very strategic since you need to be able to damage other players without offering easy kills to opponents. The different weapons with different capabilities that call for different strategies makes the game fun: you can have a weapon dealing damage to many opponents at the same time or just dealing a lot of damage to a single opponent close to you or just a little damage but at long range. Some weapons give you “target damage” on an opponent (“marks”) that can be transformed into real damage the next time you hit him/her. Some weapons are better than others and there are some interesting combos to be made. Keeping an eye as to to your supply of ammo cubes is important because you use cubes to reload your weapons only at the end of the turn. And spread out your attacks. Every time a player is killed, his value diminishes; this means that it is not a good strategy to always focus on the same enemy.
The game ends after a fixed amount of kills and after a “Final Frenzy” phase where players are able to perform “enhanced” actions (such as being able to move AND reload AND fire on the same action.) At the end of the game, players score extra points according to the number of opponents killed. Score more points than any of the other players and you win!
While reading the rules, I was really surprised about a first person shooter game with minimal randomness and luck. There is randomness in the ammo counters available and in the weapons revealed during the game but all this information is public so there is really no luck involved and the game works. It is quick, it is strategic and there is a lot of interaction. You have to choose your moves wisely and know when to inflict damage. By playing it a lot, you will find some weapons/strategies work better for you and you will be interested into wanting to try different ones. The components and graphics are good and all the information easy to access. Still, in the first game, you will need to go through the manual for clarifications about some weapon effects.
Game after game, I’m discovering that Adrenaline is much more strategic and “euro” than it would first appear and that’s something I like. Great job Filip! – – – Andrea “Liga” Ligabue
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