Rampage_Cover

Rampage | Review

January 28, 2014
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Designer: Antoine Bauza, Ludovic Maublanc | Artist: Pierô | Publisher: Repos Production, 2013
Players: 2-4 | Playing time: 30-45 minutes

Welcome to Meeple City! A city comprised only of heroes, journalists, police officers, blonde girls, businessmen and old men – a demographic closely resembling that of Smurf Village. If you are a fan of brunette girls, relocation may be your only option at this point. Little do these fine citizens know that their beloved Meeple City is about to be overrun by a group of multi-colored Godzilla wannabes – you!

Your goal as the not-so-friendly neighborhood monster is to cause as much destruction to the city as possible and eat as many citizens of Meeple City, while not discriminating against a specific color, sex or career choice. Along the way you may also want to throw a bus at a rival monster and take their teeth.

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DESIGN

Rampage, a game designed by Antoine Bauza (7 Wonders, Ghost Stories, Takenoko) and Ludovic Maublanc (Ca$h ‘n Gun$, Cyclades, Mr. Jack), and published by Repos Production, is an action/dexterity game for 2-4 players. The game is loosely based on the classic (in my opinion) 1986 Rampage arcade game by Midway Games. The artwork by Piero (Ghost Stories, Mr. Jack) is colorful and fun which fits the light-hearted nature of the game perfectly. A game of Rampage is relatively short and can be expected to last anywhere from 30-45 minutes.

The game components consist of:

  • 4 giant Monsters or Monsteeples (I’m going to try and make that a word);
  • 4 wooden discs which act as the monsteeple’s feet;
  • 4 vehicles or vehiples (I will also make this a word);
  • 90 poor Meeple City residents to trample, devour or gently blow over (the humane thing to do);
  • 7 buildings to destroy;
  • 1 Runaway board;
  • 48 cards;
  • 4 player screens; and
  • the cityscape game board.

The box itself does not come with an insert, however, I did not find this to be a problem as everything fits. I have read about people saying that the box is too big for the number of components. To those people, I ask “Huh?” I’ve found that the components fit snugly into the box space provided.

IMG_2285The Monsteeples and vehiples are made of solid, sturdy wood which is good considering these will be dropped, flung and blown all over the board throughout the game. The residents are your run-of-the-mill meeple size and construction. Through our numerous plays, the only noticeable damage to the pieces involved slight paint chipping on the meeple citizens. Those little guys sure can handle a beating!

The buildings are created by layering thickly constructed cardboard floors, using the resident meeples as the foundation for holding each level up (I believe this is in fact how buildings are currently constructed). Each floor piece has two sides – a floor layout and a roof layout. Being detail-oriented, I was really impressed when I saw this. The initial worry when opening the box and looking at the floor punch-outs was “How well will the cardboard floors stand up over time?” Thus far I can say that I am impressed. I think it also helps that each floor is more than likely only battered once or twice per game depending on the demolition skills/sobriety of the Monsters in play.

The game board is split into 2 foldable boards that are connected in the center by a large puzzle piece. The puzzle piece is masked by the large building foundation placed in the middle of the game board. The other 6 building foundations are permanently applied to the board using adhesive on the back of each piece. My only complaint with the board was that through our first few plays it became noticeably warped. I am hoping that this is due to the fact that the game was new and we were playing at my mom’s house with the heat set to “Sun.”

404A0186Note: For the first print run copies of Rampage, two sticker sheets were provided to apply to the residents of Meeple City. While I have never had a problem envisioning a Blonde Girl, the stickers provided a nice added layer of theme and visual appeal (each resident type has a distinct front and back side). A word of warning though…the process of applying the stickers is time consuming and tedious. Enlist the help of your gaming group or significant other if you’d like to speed the process along. Or slip into something comfy, light a candle, put on your favorite Michael Bolton album (I celebrate his entire catalogue) and have yourself some “me-eple time.”

GAMEPLAY

As mentioned, Rampage is a dexterity game at its core. One could argue that the game also involves a small measure of set collection as your main source of points comes from collecting sets of 6 citizens (one of each color). All of the skills you have been honing since you were a kid will be showcased throughout the game and contribute to your ultimate domination of Meeple City. Be prepared to impress others with your uncanny ability to flick a disc, your supernatural aptitude for dropping an object like its hot and your god given talent to blow really, really hard.

SET-UP

At first glance, the set-up for Rampage looks wearisome. For a perfectionist, this may prove true as each building is created by layering randomly drawn meeple citizens and placing them on the designated floor spot (marked on each tile with a meeple outline) where they will use their strength to hold up an entire floor. Thematically, this may be a stretch for some but use your imagination. Even Senior citizens, although slow and dangerous behind the wheel, can still serve a purpose in Meeple City.

IMG_2326There are a total of 7 buildings in the city, 6 in the neighborhoods and the large stadium in the center. The remaining meeple citizens are placed on the stadium as shown on the tile(s)and each of the four vehiples are placed on their corresponding location.

Now each player chooses a monster body, the matching color disc (with the monster’s paws illustrated) and screen, as well as 4 teeth which will be placed in the outlined teeth spaces on the mouth of the screen. Place each players’ monster paws on the designated starting spot in the corner closest to the player and sit the monster’s body on top. The cards are shuffled and each player is dealt one of each type (Character, Power, and Secret Super Power). The players will then reveal their Character and Power cards to everyone, while keeping the Secret Super Power card a super-secret. If the players choose, the cards can be selected in a not-so-random way.

Finally, the Runaway board is placed next to the board on the side (A or B) that the players have decided to use. From our first few plays, it appears that side A is a bit more forgiving to the players who just can’t seem to keep those citizens from running away.

PLAYER’S TURN

First player is determined by the player who performs the most convincing imitation of a giant monster. In our group, we were apparently role-playing lethargic monsters so we gave it to the person who made a sound. Any sound.

A player’s turn is simple. You can perform 2 of the following actions (or the same action twice): Move, Demolish, Toss a Vehicle and Breathe. Following your actions, your monster chows down on his unwilling victims and play passes clockwise.

Let’s have a look at the actions in more detail.

  • Move: Remove the body (the Monsteeple) from his paws (the disc) and flick the claws to the location on the board you would like to move. Replace the body on top of the paws. Voila, you have arrived. A word of warning – be careful not to flick your claws off the board or you will lose one of your precious teeth.
  • Demolish: If you managed to flick your monster’s paws onto one of the 7 sidewalk zones surrounding the buildings, you may attempt to demolish that building. Hold the monster’s body parallel to the board above the building you are attacking. You must be seated for this action (Step-ladder Rampage may be a house variant before long). Note: Rampage may result in ego-deflation, as it did with my brother, when he somehow completely missed a building dropping his monster from approximately 6 inches.

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  • Toss a Vehicle: What would a city destruction simulation be without the ability to pick up cars and hurl them at others? Luckily for you, nothing gets by Bauza and Maublanc. If your monster has moved into one of the neighborhoods containing a vehiple, you may spend an action to throw that vehicle at a building or monster. To do this, rest the vehiple on top of your monsters body. The body must stay on the paws (you cannot pick the body up and flick from above the city) but you are allowed to tilt the body to assist with your toss. Now just give it a flick and watch the mayhem unfold.
  • Breathe: Holding the body with one hand while it is still resting on the paws, you must now get up close and personal with Meeple City by placing your chin on top of the monster’s head and blowing in the general direction of your target. Those of you with big noses/heads, do take care as the city was not constructed for life size fac-eeples.

Those are the 4 unique actions each player can take on his or her turn. Now, let’s talk about the repercussions/rewards for your destruction or lack thereof.

Following an action, if all of the elements (i.e. citizens, vehiples) are cleared from a floor, the attacking monster immediately eats that floor by placing it behind his or her screen. After both of a player’s actions are complete it’s time to chow down on the helpless citizens that have fallen beneath your feet. Any meeple citizens that are no longer supporting any game elements (i.e. buildings) and have fallen into the neighborhood that your monster currently resides in will be dinner, provided you have enough teeth (the number of teeth you have equals the number of citizens you may eat). Remove these citizens from the game board and place them behind your screen.

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If the meeple citizens prove to be unworthy of your attention, why not go after the other monsters competing with you. If during a player’s turn he or she manages to knock another monster off their paws or the board, whether intentionally or unintentionally using any of the above actions, the “attacking” monster breaks off one of the fallen monster’s teeth and stashes it behind their screen. Teeth collected from other monsters are worth points towards your final score at the end of the game.

Finally, there are the meeple citizens too coward to stand up and be eaten like a man (or blonde girl). Any meeple citizens that manage to fall off the board during a player’s turn are placed on the Runaway board. Depending on the side of the board being used, there are numerous negative effects that take place when the active player manages to fill a specific area of the Runaway board.

Scoring at the end of the game is quite simple. Each player calculates their destruction using the following:

  • 10 points for each set of 6 Meeples of different colors (1 black, 1 gray, 1 red, 1 blue, 1 green, 1 yellow);

  • 1 point for each Floor eaten (finally, size doesn’t matter);

  • 2 points for each Tooth beaten out of another fallen monster’s mouth; and

  • Points earned for meeting the condition on the Monster’s Character card (handed out at the beginning of the game).

The player with the most points of destruction wins!

OVERALL EXPERIENCE

Overall, Rampage is a fantastic game. The rules are well written, barring a few initial clarifications (Can you flick a vehicle that is sitting on a roof? If already on a sidewalk, can you flick onto same sidewalk?) While it is possible that the more “hardcore” gamers in your group may not be impressed by a rainbow colored dexterity game, the first time you snipe a fellow-monster with a bus from across the city, they’ll be hooked.

Rampage does an excellent job in terms of scalability and replayability. The variable power cards provide a welcome variety of potential strategies and ways to score points, while not changing the core of the gameplay. Additionally, playing with 2, 3 or 4 players has proven to still be a satisfying romp of destruction and wood-filled bellies.

LEAGUE RULING

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naD

As a dedicated fan boy of anything Antoine Bauza designs, you could have told me that this game came with a headless bird and some duct tape (Dumb and Dumber…“pretty bird”…no one ever gets it) and I would have bought it. This coupled with my love of dexterity games made the 1.5+ years of anticipation for this title well worth the wait. There may be more “in-depth” dexterity games to choose from like Ascending Empires or maybe even Catacombs but Rampage’s innovative mechanics, colorful artwork and easy to grasp rules will surely be a hit with adults and children alike. Yes, I know there are video games now to tickle your inner anarchist but there is just something way more satisfying about physically destroying a building or flicking a truck across the board at your brother. Throw in a group of friends/family, a few beers (or juice boxes) and you’ve got yourself a great way to kick off game night. I absolutely love this game for the niche it fills in my collection and would highly recommend it to anyone looking to have a few laughs.

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Biff

Rampage is radical and original. I, personally, have never played a game that is quite like it. As a fan of dexterity games and pure destruction, Rampage fills a void in my short gaming career. As with any game, the initial playthrough took quite a bit longer as some of the rules were unclear. Specifically, where each building was located and which parts of the building to eat and when. Once we worked out the initial kinks, though, things were fast, fun, and chaotic. Attempting to destroy buildings was completely satisfying. Sometimes mass destruction was the result, destroying several floors of a single building and even other buildings, if close enough, would become part of the chaos. On the other hand, it’s also possible to drop your monster to find he landed flat on the building, or his face, and destroyed absolutely nothing. This, of course, was hilarious the few times it did happen. Also adding to the hilarity is the unintentionally weak or overpowering blow that was like a whisper or a hurricane. Same goes for throwing vehicles. As with all dexterity games, not every flick is going to be accurate when attempting to snipe an opponent’s monster in a neighborhood across the city. Rampage can be unpredictable at times. When things go the way you intended it’s awesome watching meeples fly all over. But, when things go wrong, it’s awesome watching meeples fly all over. If you’re due for a few laughs and generally enjoy things that are considered fun, Rampage comes highly recommended.

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Steebin

When I heard about a board game based on the NES/Arcade classic video game, I was immediately sold. After purchasing we rushed home to get our first (2 player) game going. I have since played over 10 times since the writing of this review. The directions are pretty easy to understand, but some things are left up to interpretation, such as, what do you do if you flick your disk to knock another monster down but they end up landing on your disk without falling over!? (this happened twice!). You may also find yourself coming up with house rules and making a few judgement calls on certain situations, so this makes the game pretty flexible. The game also offers different variants as well as team play, they even propose a team game using 2 versions of the game in the manual. One issue I found with the game is that you need to have the right table to play this on since you sometimes end up having to move around the table to get the right angle. Also since pieces can go flying, I can see it being easy to lose a piece at some point. Flick with caution! In short, there isn’t really anything not to like about this game unless you hate fun, hate attacking rival monsters with wooden cars or have no interest in huffing and puffing and to blow a building down.

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Buns

With only one play under my belt, I can only speak to my initial impressions of Rampage. That being said, this game does an excellent job of grabbing you by your scales and throwing you into a building (where each floor rests on the heads of its employees). The vibrant color scheme and game components create a light atmosphere that pairs well with the silly mechanics of the game. The short and easily understood rule set allows you to skip a long tutorial and get right to flicking buses and blowing down structures. While it is an excellent light game, it faces the plight of many dexterity games: it can get repetitive (or at least I could see it getting old after a number of plays). There is a limited pool of decisions to be made, which means after “X” number of plays you may be ready to move on. This is largely mitigated with the addition of the variable power cards, but it’s worth noting anyhow. All in all, Rampage is a very enjoyable experience that is great for regular game groups and family game nights, alike. I’m looking forward to getting in a number of plays in the future.

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Dan H. (Nad)

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF/PODCAST CO-HOST : Allow myself, to introduce myself. Boardgaming since the womb, I have an unsound infatuation with buying, playing, discussing, photographing, and writing about boardgames. As a boardgame aesthetics enthusiast (say that 5 times fast) you'll typically find that I spend a large majority of the game examining the design, art, and components. I prefer strategic eurogames but will play just about anything these days (except Arkham Horror). And I love Pearl Jam.

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  • Board Games For Me

    I picked this up recently and it’s a great time. My only minor complaint is that I wish you didn’t need a full set of meeples to get points. I’ve seen a few times where a player has a lot of meeples, but isn’t able to get that 1 color needed to complete sets. It’s a minor complaint though. This is they type of game that is a lot of fun regardless of the final score.

    • Yea, I had the same thoughts as well but I think it helps with balancing out the scoring in the end. I guess you could always make up points values for the certain colored meeples and still have a decent balanced game, could be cool to try to see how it works out.

      • Board Games For Me

        I read some house rules online that listed 1 point per meeple and 4 bonus points for each full set. That let you spread out the points a little bit more. I haven’t had a chance to play it though, so I’m not sure if it will screw anything up.

        • After being in exactly this position the other day, I rather like the idea of this variant. I’ll put it forth the next time we play. :)