Reviewed by Herb Levy

PARASITES UNLEASHED (Zygote Games, 2-4 players, ages 8 and up, 20 minutes; $9.95)


The world of creepy crawlie critters has a new representative in Parasites Unleashed, a colorful and light game about these denizens of the animal world and their life cycles.

Parasites Unleashed, designed by James L. Cambias, comes in a small box to hold its deck of 55 cards and a colorful rulebook. Cards come in four basic types: 4 Hatch cards, 4 Mate cards, 36 Host cards and 11 Specials. A characteristic shared by the cards is that ALL have colored east/west borders. Red, yellow, green and brown are the colors used and the Hatch and Mate cards have identical colors on their borders. The Host card borders, however, do not match. Specials have purple borders so they are easy to recognize.

One Hatch and one Mate card are randomly chosen by all players and they are placed face up on the table. (Extra cards of these types are removed from play.) The Host and Special cards are mixed together to form a draw deck. Everyone is dealt three cards which are kept hidden until played. The object of the game is to build a complete life cycle which, in game terms, means building a line of cards where the Hatch and Mate cards are included that match border to border (with at least ONE card separating the Hatch and Mate cards).

Each turn follows a set procedure. First, you draw enough cards so that you have four in your hidden hand. Then you may play TWO cards to either build or attack.

Building involves playing a card, either moving the open Hatch or Mate cards to start or extend your life cycle OR playing a card from your hand to extend the cycle. And that’s where those border colors become so important.

A card may only be played to the cycle IF one of that card’s borders matches the color at either end of the cycle. So, for example, if you have a red border at the end of your cycle, you may now add another card to the line provided that it, too, has a red border. (It is tempting to play a card upside down so that colors meet. This is, however, NOT allowed.) Special cards, easily distinguished by their purple borders, grant players special (hence the name) abilities that can make it easier to accomplish your goal. For example, one Special will allow you to cover your Hatch card so you won’t need it to complete your life cycle, another acts as a Wild Card and will match ANY color. Or, you may attack.HostCard4

Attacks involve playing Host cards onto an opponent’s line, the idea being to make it more difficult for your opposition to complete their life cycle. (This is problematical, however, as you have no way of knowing what cards are hidden in an opponent’s hand or what he/she will draw. It is actually just a way to free your hand from cards that don’t fit into YOUR plans.) What makes more sense is to play those aforementioned Specials to make life difficult on your competition. For example, one Special allows you to steal a Host card from an opponent’s life cycle. Of course, there is a Special that will cancel any Special played against you! (Should you suffer an attack, you may play any Specials in your hand to neutralize or minimize the attack IMMEDIATELY.) The game is purely tactical; long range planning or strategy is simply not possible.

Finally, a player may discard as many cards as he wants from his hand to create room for his next draw. But it should be noted that you don’t draw until the START of your next turn. Should you find yourself faced with another attack, you will be defending with less (or maybe no) cards. .

The first player to complete his life cycle wins!

At its core, Parasites Unleashed is a color matching game of weird science with cute artwork (by Fred Zinn) to mesh with a few scientific facts. I suspect the gross nature of the game (the game’s subtitle ” A Totally True, Totally Gross Card Game” is certainly on the mark) will attract more customers than its educational value. While the box recommends an audience of ages 8 and up, the combination of subject and easy learning curve skews the age range of the true target audience towards the younger end of that spectrum and makes this a natural for even younger players. The quick play time of the game also adds to its effectiveness with younger gamers as the game doesn’t wear out its welcome. (The low retail price doesn’t hurt either.) A perfect stocking stuffer in this Holiday Season. – – – – – Herb Levy


Have feedback? We’d love to hear from you.

Fall 2008 GA Report Articles


Reviewed by Herb Levy BLOX (Ravensburger, 2-4 players, ages 10 and up, 45 minutes; about $40) In our modern urban world, the rise and destruction of skyscrapers is an ongoing process akin to the heartbeat of great metropolises. This urban pulse has been transferred to an abstract game from a trio of designers: Wolfgang Kramer, Hans Raggan and Jurgen P. Grunau. The game is Blox ...
Read More
Reviewed by Chris Kovac CONFLICT OF HEROES (Elfinwerks/Academy Games, 2-4 players, ages 10 and up, 60-180 minutes; $75) Conflict of Heroes is a squad level wargame designed by Uwe Eickert depicting the epic battles between Germany and Russia on the Russian front between 194-1942. This game emphasizes speed and game play over level of detail and, for the most part, succeeds. The big advantage is ...
Read More
Reiner, have you met Henry? By now, everyone who cares about gaming awards knows that Reiner Knizia has won the Spiel des Jahres for Keltis, a re-working of his two player Lost Cities game. It is a long overdue honor for Knizia, a game designer of many outstanding games. This situation reminded me of another one where the parallels are striking. I was thinking of ...
Read More
(In this issue, we feature Keltis, this year's winner of the Spiel des Jahres, and a re-working of Lost Cities, the popular two player card game from the prolific designer Reiner Knizia. still in print and available So we thought a quick look at the inspiration for his SdJ winner was in order. So here, from the Summer 1999 issue of Gamers Alliance Report, ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy KELTIS (Kosmos, 2-4 players, ages 10 and up, 30 minutes; about $40) Have feedback? We’d love to hear from you. Fall 2008 GA Report Articles ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy MARRAKECH (Gigamic/Fundex Games, 2-4 players, ages 6 and up, 10-20 minutes; $39.95) Against the exotic background of a marketplace in Morocco, Marrakech, by Dominique Ehrhard, puts players into the roles of competing carpet sellers with a dual goal: have the most rugs visible in Marrakech square and, of course, collect as much money as possible along the way. The square box ...
Read More
Reviewed by Pevans MONASTERY (Ragnar Brothers, 2-4 players, ages 10 and up, 30-90 minutes; $52.99) The Ragnar Brothers have a track record of excellent historical games, but they’re usually on a grander scale than this. Monastery has the players developing a medieval monastery. The monastery starts with the abbey church and the players each have one monk (pawn) in the church. They also start with ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy NEFERTITI (Rio Grande Games, 2-4 players, ages 8 and up, 45 minutes; $49.95) Mel Brooks once said, "It's good to be king". And, in Nefertiti, the new game by Jacques Bariot, Thomas Cauet and Guillaume Montiage, you can see why. King Akhanaton has flexed his royal muscles and commanded members of the Egyptian nobility to bring rare and precious gifts to ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy PARASITES UNLEASHED (Zygote Games, 2-4 players, ages 8 and up, 20 minutes; $9.95) The world of creepy crawlie critters has a new representative in Parasites Unleashed, a colorful and light game about these denizens of the animal world and their life cycles. Parasites Unleashed, designed by James L. Cambias, comes in a small box to hold its deck of 55 cards ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy SAY ANYTHING (North Star Games, 3 to 8 players, ages 13 and up, about 35 minutes; $24.99)    Ever since Trivial Pursuit exploded onto the scene, people have been convinced that a great adult party game will earn them millions. The potential is there, sure, and people have risen to that challenge. But the real challenge is to come up with ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy SENJI (Asmodee, 3-6 players, ages 12 and up, 90 minutes; $69.99) All games offer something to the interested gamer. Sometimes a game will offer you a chance to flex your diplomatic abilities. Maybe you yearn to flex your muscles in a simulated conflict. Perhaps card play is what you seek. It is rare when a game has ALL of these elements ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy TIKI TOPPLE (Gamewright Games, 2-4 players, ages 10 and up, 20 minutes; $19.95) According to legend (as told by the good folks at Gamewright), tikis are carved statues representing supernatural and sacred forces in some Polynesian cultures. Taking that as his cue, Keith Meyers has come up with Tiki Topple, a charming game where players maneuver nine carved tikis to score ...
Read More
Reviewed by Joe Huber TINNERS' TRAIL (Treefrog, 3-4 players, ages 13 and up, 60-90 minutes; about $75) For some years now, Martin Wallace has been known for his gamer-friendly designs. While Age of Steam (Winter 2003 GA REPORT) stands out as his most popular design, many of his other designs such as Princes of the Renaissance (Winter 2004 GA REPORT) have gained their own followings ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy VINETA (Immortal Eyes Games/Winning Moves, 2-6 players, ages teen to adult, 30 + minutes; $30.95) If stormy weather looms outside your window with rain pounding on the roof like it's the end of the world, you might be able to better empathize with the inhabitants of the Nordic city of Vineta. These unlucky denizens of the "Atlantis of the North" are ...
Read More


Facebook Feed

3 days ago

Gamers Alliance
It seems like only yesterday when we first saw him on screen but he turns 70 (!) today! Wishing a Happy Birthday to actor Mark Hamill (aka Luke Skywalker) of... ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook