Wreckland Run is a tower defense game… if the tower was barreling down a dirt road at 60+ mph while being fired upon by the cast of all four Mad Max movies and a couple of scary refugees from a Michael Bay film. It’s a dice allocation game… but because Scott Almes (the designer) has a dark heart, you’re forced to allocate dice for the bad guys as well as your own.* And it’s a campaign game – complete with choices that make for a wonderful story-filled experience.
Renegade Game Studios is getting ready to publish the third game in their solo game series… and over the next few paragraphs, I’m going to suggest some reasons you need to check it out.
*Note: Scott doesn’t actually have a dark heart. He actually seems to be a pretty nice guy – but it hurts me every time I have to assign a red die to one of the chasing cars.
The Solo Game Series
Here at the Opinionated Gamers, we’ve been more than happy to review the two previous games in Renegade’s solo game series:
- Our Fearless Leader, Dale Yu, delved into the fantasy world of Proving Grounds.
- Your humble author (me!) wrote extensively about the sci-fi craziness of Scott Almes’ Warp’s Edge.
I own both games and enjoy them… but I think Wreckland Run, the newest entry in the series is yet another step forward in solo board game design.
Wreckland Run is set up as a campaign – the protagonist (you!) have a vehicle with a few attachment weapons with which to wander the wasteland and, well, steal stuff from bad guys. (I like to think of myself as a post-apocalyptic Robin Hood while I’m playing.) As you start the campaign, you choose from one of four vehicles and one of four different drivers. Each driver has their own special power that (hopefully) helps you in the Mad Max-like adventures that are about to occur.
Each game begins with a couple of pages of story – and more than the extended short story that accompanied Proving Grounds or the “choose your own adventure” story that walked players through their first game in Warp’s Edge, these stories move the campaign forward and set up the scenario for the chapter/gamer right in front of you.
There are seven chapters in Wreckland Run – and each chapter has an envelope with cards that add new enemies as well as attachments for your vehicle. They also add twists to the game – some you simply deal with, while others require you to make decisions.
Each chapter/game is broken into three rounds with two distinct sections: Wreckage & Run. During the Wreckage phase, you use the roll of the eight 6-sided dice (3 red, 5 white) plus any Scrap you have to purchase and place Parts (attachments/weaponry) to your car. You can also repair your vehicle – particularly sections that suffered Destruction during a previous round.
During the Run phase, cars from the Enemies deck are place around your vehicle in four zones (front, back, left, right) and the dice are rolled again. The bad guys take the first turn as you assign a red die to one of their vehicles and then suffer the consequences. You follow by using 1-3 white dice plus Scrap to activate your various attachments to attempt to escape this particular Run. The remaining dice are rolled and the bad guys are activated again, followed by you. There is a final roll of the dice, followed by the enemy activation and your response.
The Runs in rounds one & two end when you reduce them to two or less vehicles (who, thankfully, give up and drive away). If the end of a turn doesn’t result in the end of a Run, you start over again rolling all 8 dice and continuing the fight.
Runs in the final round go until you take out the boss – who is usually difficult to hit unless you can isolate them in a zone. And, in the tradition of video game bosses, they have a pile of hit points.
I’ve used the word “Scrap” a couple of times in the description above – it’s an important concept in Wreckland Run. If you can take an enemy car precisely (giving him the exact amount of damage to knock him out), you get to claim his vehicle card as Scrap – which means you can use the die number on his card to activate your Parts or to purchase Parts.
What you have to avoid is damage to your Core – the center of your vehicle where (presumably) you’re sitting during all this mayhem. Core damage cannot be repaired… and if you reach or exceed that damage level, you’ve lost the game.
Of course, there’s more to the design than that:
- You can ram cars, both to damage them and to push them into a better position to fire on them.
- Some weapons have focused fire; others spread damage around to all the targets in a zone.
- Some Parts (and enemy cars) have Shields, which reduce the amount of damage they take.
- You can place a die equal to or higher than the number on a Part… but if you put the exact number down, each Part has a bonus action that makes your mission a little bit easier.
- You can use low number rolls to adjust other dice and/or reroll them.
- You can set the difficulty of the game by the amount of Scrap you receive at the start of the game.
- In the Wreckage portion of a round, you can use red dice to buy Parts… but you do so at the risk of damage on the Wreckage chart. (Each chapter has charts particular to that chapter.)
- In the Run portion of a round, red dice which can’t be placed on a car trigger a roll on the Run chart… which is something you’d like to avoid.
I’m four games into my first campaign in just a week… and I’m hooked. I squeaked by the first chapter, took down the second chapter with some clever moves (and some serious luck), and have found myself manhandled by the third chapter (with two losses, both in the third round and with significant damage on the boss vehicle.) I fully plan to take Wreckland Run with me on the road next week as I’m traveling for work and it makes for an excellent “hotel desk” solo game.
Like I hinted at earlier, I believe this is the thinky-est game of the Renegade Solo Series… the numerous ways in which you can manipulate the dice and spend Scrap are both intriguing and frustrating – and I mean frustrating in the best possible sense. You can’t do everything – and you have to take chances in order to set yourself up for the best possible plays.
Wreckland Run is coming to Kickstarter today – if you’re interested, go immediately and check it out at Wreckland Run. As a Kickstarter backer of Warp’s Edge, I can’t say enough nice things about the quality of the production of this game series – and the amazing way in which they dealt with issues with plastic token add-on for Warp’s Edge. (Finding out some folks were having issues with the print rubbing off/scratching, they simply had them reprinted and sent them to every backer who’d purchased that add-on. Classy.)
Note: I received a prototype copy of the game to review.