Thursday, December 2, 2010

"Chainsaw Warrior" Board Game (1987)

I just got my copy of CW in the mail today, ordered from another BGGer. First off I would like to point out my biases: I like trashy, dirty, fast games, I like GW, and I like pulpy 80s sci-fi themes. So yes, CW already had it's foot out the door into my heart. The theme is fucking perfect and gritty as shit, like an 80s B action movie: cheesy main character tough guy in leather, big junky grungy guns, and a ton of "attitude," the type of thing a typical young boy thinks is cool, which IS cool. I can not in good conscience say this game is good. This game is plain bad, and I think most anyone who plays it will agree with me. However, it has it's charm, or rather extreme lack thereof, and, yes, I will be playing it again. This is how it works. You roll up a character in a similar fashion as a Fighting Fantasy gamebook (i.e. this will determine the difficulty of the game, and you will have to use your best judgement in rolling up fairly). You receive a slew of random weapons, armor, and devices. Gameplay consists of flipping a card, which will usually either be an enemy, trap, or nothing, and moving the time track 30 seconds (you have 60 mins to finish the game). You divide the deck into 2, placing the "end card" in the second deck. Some conditions may make you restart the game, but if you completed the first deck, you restart at the second one. Combat is simple, roll 2 dice for the enemy and yourself, add modifiers, and either the enemy is dead or you get a wound. If you are wounded, roll on a chart to determine temporary effects of the wound. You are also given a chance to use a gun at the start of combat, and sometimes during combat. Traps test your reflex skill, and are more likely to advance time rather than wound you. You also have to worry about radiation and "zombie venom," which are picked up from fighting certain enemies and sometimes through traps. The goal is to come across "the darkness" card, an especially powerful foe, and kill him/her/it, and then you have saved New York from some underdeveloped space warp plot (which has MANY discrepancies with the 40k warp, it's best to just assume the lores are unrelated, even if you ARE coming across foes called "Chaos Agents"... Yes, yes indeed, this game is hard. Really hard. Don't expect to win often. I beat the game on my 5th try, with 1:30 left on the clock, 2 HP or "wounds," and 2 clicks away from dying of radiation. It was intense. There is a lot of randomness to success in this game, but to be quite honest, it didn't feel like it was playing itself. It just felt really, really difficult. Here's some things I hate about this game: 1. "Mutant Things." These guys suck. Just encountering them (not even fighting them!) causes you to suffer d6 radiation. On average about 13 radiation will kill you, so it's very possible that just by coming across 3 of these guys will cause you to automatically lose. Why is there NO chance of avoiding radiation? Sure there's ONE item in the game that can divert this, but even that item causes you problems when you use it. Anyway, 2. The chasm. Don't have the hook and rope? Sorry, gotta restart. Didn't get to the second deck yet? Sorry, gotta start ALL over. I hate that card. Just throw it in the garbage. So what's good about this game? Why am I probably gonna be playing it again tonight? This game is fast as hell. People have said it is sluggish and has annoying managing, but I am under the opinion it is quite the opposite. After a couple playthroughs, I was flipping cards, rollin bones, and advancing time practically in one graceful sweep of my hand. I found this game VERY fluid, once you get the hang of it. It is pure, non-stop action, and for what it is, it kills it. I like this game. I have noticed people complain about the bookkeeping in this game. Seriously? Yes the idea of having the 20 numbered chips and replacing them every time is a stupid idea, but I did not once use those chips. The first thing I did when I read that was I found an old d20. Problem solved. I found the bookkeeping to be minimal, the item inventory was slick and easy to keep track of (compare this to AH or Runebound, for example), and all stats are kept neatly in one place. I almost never referred to the rule book after the first play through. So would I recommend this terrible but oddly-fun game? Not to everyone, no. This game typifies a certain breed of Ameritrash that would turn off most, and honestly, you'll know whether or not you want this game just by looking at the box art.

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