Mary Dimercurio Prasad: Review of Rampage

Rampage

  • Publisher: Asmodee/Repos ProductionRampage Box
  • Designer: Antoine Bauza , Ludovic Maublanc
  • Artist: Pierô
  • Players: 2-4
  • Ages: 8+
  • Playing Time: 30-45min
  • Languages: English
  • MSRP $59.99
  • Reviewed by: Mary Dimercurio Prasad
  • Game Played: Review Copy
  • Number of Plays: 1 x 3 player, 1 x 2 player

Introduction

Welcome to Meeple City!

Its buildings are yours to destroy, its vehicles are yours to toss about, and its diverse population of Meeples are yours to devour. Throw yourself into the melee, but be careful with your teeth as you’re not the only monster in town! Rampage is a 3D action board game for 2 to 4 monsters. (From the back of the box.)

Rules Summary

The goal of Rampage is to earn the most points by devouring (collecting) sets of meeples and buildings (i.e. tiles representing floors and roofs), collecting teeth from other monsters, and meeting certain conditions on your monster’s character card. Players take turns, consisting of two actions, until one player has eaten the last floor or knocks it off the City (game board); that player finishes his turn then each other player gets one final turn.

The game board comes in 2 big puzzle pieces, with one fold in the middle of each, and a middle piece that holds them together, along with two clips to hold the sides together. The board is what makes up the City. The City contains 8 colored areas representing Neighborhoods. Before the game begins, the board and buildings must be assembled. The buildings are built upon the backs of meeples, literally. Mostly this consists of placing four meeples in the corners then stacking a tile on top, repeating until there are 3 levels above the board then one meeple is added to the top roof tile (the only exception is the stadium, which gets 8 meeples on the bottom then a floor tile, then finally 4 meeples on the top/roof). There are meeple icons marking their placement. The meeples come in 6 colors and are placed randomly for setup. There are also 4 vehicles (wooden) that will be placed in the Neighborhoods where marked.

Rampage Set Up

Rampage Game

Each player gets a screen depicting a his monster’s face with an open mouth and four spaces for teeth (the area behind the screen is considered the monster’s stomach), four teeth tokens to place on the teeth spaces, and a monster, consisting of a wooden body and a disk (paws). The body sits on the disk most of the time, unless the monster is moving or has fallen and can’t get up! Each player also starts with three cards: a character card, a power card, and a secret (hidden) superpower card, described further below.

Players take turns in clockwise order, executing two actions during their turns. There are four actions from which to choose; an action may be repeated. The actions are: move, demolish, toss a vehicle, and breathe.

Move: remove the body of the monster and flick the paws (disk). If you are *lucky* (or a better shot than I am), you will end up where you want to be. Replace the body. If the paws go off the board, your monster loses a tooth.

Demolish: if your paws are touching a sidewalk around a building, you can try to demolish a building by holding your monster’s body out from you over the building (arm should be parallel to the table while seated) and dropping it. If you miss, you lose a tooth.

Toss a vehicle: if your monster is in the same Neighborhood as a vehicle, you may toss it by placing the vehicle on top of your monster’s head then flicking it. You may hold or tilt your monster’s body in the process.

Breathe: place your chin on top of your monster’s head, inhale then blow.

After taking an action, if you knocked down the body of another player’s monster you get one of their teeth (place it behind your screen). Its body stays in place until the owner’s next turn (she will place the body back on its feet before taking her actions). If a building tile (floor or roof) is unobstructed (i.e. no monsters, vehicles, floors, or meeples on it), then you may “gobble” it, i.e. place it behind your screen.

Finally, after taking your two actions, you can “Chow Down” – i.e. eat meeples in your Neighborhood by placing them behind your screen. The meeples must be freely accessible (not supporting anything). You can eat as many as you have teeth. Two teeth are permanent; four are removable, thus at the start of the game you could eat as many as six meeples in a turn. As the game progresses, you will probably lose some teeth (likely the price of eating extra crunchy buildings or getting in fights with other monsters).

If any meeples go completely off the game board at any time, they are placed on a Runaway Meeple board. The board has two sides, each with outlines for meeples. Side A is a gray board with rows that are filled, in order from top to bottom. Side B has rows by meeple color, which are filled in accordingly (except gray representing old folk – they are just returned to the box because they are too old to help defend the City). Once a row has filled, the active player suffers its negative effects as listed on the board. This entails losing teeth and other nasty things such as being placed in another Neighborhood by an opponent, discarding one of your cards, giving opponents an extra action, ending the game early AND immediately losing, or losing some of your meeples (I guess they didn’t “sit well” with your monster).

Character cards are bonuses for end game scoring, such as collecting the majority of red meeples (heroes) to get 10 points or getting an additional two points for each tooth collected. Powers allow a monster some extra ability during the game, such as breaking two teeth instead of one when you knock down a monster, performing an extra flick when moving, or eating meeples in an adjacent neighborhood. Secret superpowers remain hidden until used and must be discarded after use for a one-time effect such as removing your monster from the board then returning on your next turn in any Neighborhood, taking meeples from an opponent in your Neighborhood, or protection from the Runaway Meeple board.

At the end of the game, players score 10 points for each complete set of meeples collected (six colors), one point for each building tile collected, two points for each tooth collected, and whatever points they get from their character cards. The player with the most points wins.

The full rules for Rampage are available at Board Game Geek in the files section.

Thoughts

The theme of the Rampage is reminiscent of the 1986 video arcade game by the same name. It’s an amusing and enjoyable dexterity game with the added bonus of destruction – a nice “friendly” way to take out any aggressions you may have. The theme fits the board game very well; I definitely wouldn’t call it pasted on! The graphics are really colorful and fun. It’s a beautiful game to look at and rather impressive when set up.

The game design is fairly clever. I don’t know of any game quite like it. It expands on elements of other dexterity games, mainly flicking (Crokinole players will be right at home with movement!) and possibly dropping, but I don’t recall any games where you blow down pieces with your chin on top of a wooden character. (For some reason, I happen to be particularly bad at this action – maybe I should use my inhaler before attempting it next time.)

I recommend playing the game on a fairly small square or circular table, with minimal extra space. You will be moving around the board/table quite often. Bonus: exercise for geeks!

The game is easy to learn; in fact it’s surprisingly simple to play. The rules are very well written and cover most, if not all, situations. Clarifications can be found in each section, as well as on the back of the rulebook. It also lists a number of rather nice variants, including losing a point for meeples that are not part of a set at the end of the game (I definitely want to try this one!), getting extra cards to choose from at the beginning of the game (I highly recommend this variant), a variant that allows players to purchase extra cards with building tiles they have collected, team play, and playing the game with up to 8 people. Note: the last one requires another copy of the game.

The downside for me was the variations in the cards – some seemed not quite as useful as others. Also, some work better with more players. This can be alleviated a bit by playing the variant I mentioned above (or you may choose to remove the more lame cards before playing).

For the most part, the game is exceptional in quality. The only possible complaint here would be with the thinness of the player screens (not so much an issue) and the Runaway Meeple board. I would have loved a Runaway Meeple board with cutouts for the meeples to stick in them (I know, I’m dreaming). Sometimes there are a lot of pieces flying around during destruction; the runaways might get knocked off. But even just a slightly thicker board might have been nicer. I will likely laminate mine. The rest of the game is super high quality. The game board is extra thick, as are the building tiles and teeth. The pieces are all wooden – meeples, cars, and monsters. The cards are very colorful with attractive monster artwork and a smooth coated finish. The box itself is sturdy and the inside bottom has an insert lining with artwork from the board; it looks great.

I really enjoyed playing Rampage. It’s a smashing departure from your more typical gamer games (wink). It is also an excellent choice for a children’s or family game. I haven’t played it with four yet but with two or three the game moves along fairly well (once you know the rules). Since the game end depends on a static number of building tiles (disregarding the early ending on the Runaway Meeple board), the time length shouldn’t extend by much with number of players.

Opinions from other Opinionated Gamers:

Greg Schloesser:  “Flicking” games generally don’t suit me very well.  Yes, they are cute and do require some dexterity, but I generally find them unsatisfying.  They seem more suited to a pub atmosphere than a game room.  I realize these types of games have legions of fans, but I am usually not one of them.

Rampage is fun … to a point.  I played once and had an amusing time, but did not feel any inclination to play again.  I wouldn’t actively avoid playing, but feel no need to add it to my collection.  That being said, if I still had young children, I think it would be a must purchase.

Matt Carlson: I’ve had a lot of fun with this game with both kids and adults.  I had a bit too much hope for strategy/tactics in the game when playing with adults but some aspects present make the game a bit less strategic than I would prefer.  Foremost, I agree with the issue of power card variance.  They seem to have a significant swing in gameplay and scoring, while not being particularly balanced.  I have not played with the multiple-power card variant but that sounds like a good first step to find a solution.  As for the dexterity element, it is there, but some fans of Crokinole and such may find the board a bit more crowded with obstacles than normal.  Also, bank shots are difficult as most “walls” are not particularly rigid and thus will have unpredictable results.  Overall, I enjoyed the theme and lightheartedness of the game.  The first time anyone tries to use the “blow” mechanism it nearly always results in so much laughter, the attempt is pretty much useless…  good times.

Dan Blum: I like the idea, but the game leaves me a bit cold. The dexterity element is just not that much fun, mostly due to the amount of precision required to actually score points as opposed to just knocking things down. The rest of it is too fiddly for its own good.

Ted C:  It is more an activity than a game really.  If you focus on the set collecting too much you will suck the fun right out of it.

Ben McJunkin (1 play):  I have spent more time putting stickers on my meeples than I have spent playing the game.  I purchased the game hoping it would be a lighthearted romp for some of my less diehard gaming friends.  Sadly, the one play was fine, but a bit on the dull side as the rules were more convoluted than I would have expected given the nature of the game.  No one has bothered to request it since, and I am highly likely to sell it off when the next batch of Essen games gets released.

Patrick Brennan: Flick your puck/monster around Crokinole style to a good spot and then throw things at the board in one of three different ways – drop your monster on an adjacent building, flick a block off the top of your monster, or blow something over with your chin held above your monster. All of which cause mayhem and destruction on the board, usually resulting in buildings, which are being held up by meeples, being knocked down, hoping they fall in such a way so that meeples fall inside the same area of the board that your puck/monster is in so you can pick them up at the end of your turn. There are potential penalties if meeples leave the board, so care needs to be taken. Knocking over another player’s monster also gets points and is to be encouraged. So, lots of semi-random mayhem which is fun to start with, stays fun through the middle bit and then gets less so as the repetition kicks in and you realise how much luck is involved in the scoring. Meaning some frustration and/or ennui will probably rise as a result. Each set of 6 different meeple colours scores 10 points – be short a colour and boom, you’re 20 or 30 points down. Don’t be emotionally invested. It’s some decent stupid fun that no doubt realises its full potential when played with tween boys.

Ratings Summary from the Opinionated Gamers:

  • I love it! Mary Prasad
  • I like it: Matt Carlson, Ted C.
  • Neutral:  Greg Schloesser, Dan Blum, Ben McJunkin, Patrick Brennan
  • Not for me…
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About Mary Prasad

More about me at: http://artbymdp.blogspot.com
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