Review: Fireteam Zero – hell behind enemy lines

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The second World War was only the first skirmish, that started it all. Real fight for the survival of humanity and planet did not take place at the front, but in the darkness, away from the falling bombs. Few boldest men sneaked through abandoned towns and fear was dripping from their ears. Unthinkable horrors climbed to the surface of Earth and sniffed suffering and blood. It’s time to save humanity!

Horror and World War II are firmly connected, mixed together and from all this is benefitting new board game , which puts emphasis on the horror part. Novelty was conceived in the minds of three authors: , and Loic Muzy. Entire game was developed in production of company, but very important fingers in its creation had also a community of fans. Campaign on was supported by 1158 players and passed a total of $ 200,000.

From the first glance, it is clear, that we have a magnificent game before us. This breathtaking experience starts with huge box, that has its initial illustration with a touch of the Second World War, but in addition to classical suits, we see monster with claws growing out of their bodies. Candles illuminate only death and journey to the underworld seems scary. So lets peek under the lid at all the horror.

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In top floor of this huge box are rules, that surprise you with mere twelve sides and only seven of those are genuinely devoted to description of gameplay. Just below them lies a large cardboard box. It conceals a total of forty-six miniatures – five heroes, two specialists and monsters being the rest (thirteen of each kind). On the next floor, there are eight double-sided boards with a map environment and one board for tracking threats (with spaces for twists and route of threats). We also have to uncover remains of pile of tokens, representing primarily spy information, set of dice, but especially cards – action, tasks, survey, individual heroes, but also smaller cards of twists and concentration. The last package contains nine pieces and belongs to various monsters.

However, we did not mention the other small brochure with missions. This is the first, what will be of interest to players, when they begin setup. They can then choose either a specific mission or a set of three tasks connected into a campaign. According to selection, players create game map of the listed boards, equip it with spanwpoints and one exit. Right next to it, they place plate of threats with shuffled tokens and a deck of cards. Players will also prepare additional deck of cards, spread cards with monsters and place monsters on spawnpoints on map using dice.

Players choose their hero, always including all possible compulsory roles for the mission and they will receive a set of improvement cards, actions and concentration. Improvements are shuffled with actions into a single deck, while of concentrations can be chosen only one and placed on the table. Players then put their miniatures on entry point.

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At the beginning of each round, one player may use the option of playing tactic cards. It provides a powerful effect, that can be used immediately. Only then will all players take turns activating their heroes in two phases – movement and action. The actual movement is really simple and corresponds to speed of a hero. It must also comply with any restrictions of terrain.

At any time before, during or even after the movement, player may use his one action point. He has opportunity to search a single location (only those, that contain spawnpoints and only once) or to attack. Offer is based on ranged weapons, but there is also close combat or grenades. To perform the attack, it is also possible to use more cards of the same type, whose strength is combined, creating a more powerful attack. There cards will be used and discarded.

Very strength of the attack only determines number of dice, that player can roll. Result must be some specific icons and their number must exceed number of lives and defense of contested monster. Only by completing these requirements, the creature is dead. Of course, attacks can be enhanced differently, some places provide better shelter for attacked creatures and grenades do not choose their target and hurt everyone in the area.

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Then comes the time for monsters to retaliate on human opponents. At the outset, counter of threats should be moved and some milestones also reveal a new card of twist. That brings with it some inconvenience for the players. Then, monsters are activated one after the other. In addition to the basic movement and attack, they can also get a bonus move (depending on the outcome of the dice). Even monsters are using dice to deal damage, while players can protect even each other. Injury is done here as discarding cards, no wounds tokens or anything like this is needed. If player does not have enough cards to discard, they are knocked down and their actions are limited from now on.

At the very end of each round, new monsters will get born on all unsecured points of map, players draw cards and game continues. Players perform tasks assigned to them at the beginning by adding exploration tokens. If they meet all goals, their effort ends with success and victory. But heroes lose as a team, whenever second knockdown happens.

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Fireteam Zero is a true cooperative game. Its out of the question, that everybody could be doing, whatever he wishes and then sort of put it all together to make a team. This must truly be a common effort, because otherwise, there is not much chance of winning. The biggest prize are heroes lives. After the first knockout, players turn token on the sign, that loss hangs over them. Then just another running out of cards and game ends unhappily.

If anything, Fireteam Zero really stands out with difficulty of individual missions. Already in those early ones, you will really sweat, but the future ones set the bar even higher. Additionally, each scenario offers three missions, which are connected by the story and their complexity increases. And when bosses appear in the game, they bring your nightmares with them!

Mark of a horror game is not here just for fun. This is a real game full of horrific creatures and whole theme and atmosphere of the matches fits. Processing deserves absolute praise and there is nothing to complain about. Actually, there is one thing, that could be better. As we wrote in the description of the package, we praised rules for being short. But this eventually turns against us, when you are trying to learn the game. Some parts of this manal are very mean and oddly arranged. Additionally, they do not answer all the questions, that can arise during the game.

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Cards in hand always have two uses. Each is usable to do an attack, but in addition, it can also be used as a tactic at the start of the round or response at time specified in the text. Very interesting element is, that the player playing tactics is weakened for the round. He may not draw any new cards from the deck (cards are drawn at the beginning of the round, but after playing tactics) and is thus better target for the monsters and for being knocked down.

Each offensive in the round weakens player, which is probably the very best gaming element. The best about it is obviousness and simplicity, that will simply surprise you. The beginning of each round replenishes majority of players back to five cards in hand and you must ideally divide them and exploit their options.

Gameplay itself appears to be similar to all other adventure games. All these dungeon-crawling games have the same mechanics – move a pawn, take actions, move monsters. And this progress is unavoidable even in Fireteam Zero. But what brings a fresh element is the ability to combine offensive cards into groups and only by their sum roll amount of dice. This gives players more tactical options, who must decide, whether to keep the card or play more attack cards, insure the result and possibly waste it.

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In the box are waiting nine finished adventures. Already this number (relatively to the amount of losses) will lasts heroes for a really long time. Fortunately, individual missions are easily re-playable and every time, they look a little different. Most of them takes some ninety to one hundred eighty minutes, for which you will feel absorbed in the story. Then cooperation works well in various numbers of players, because number of monsters differs.

Fireteam Zero got us in all directions. It has an original theme and potential for further growth with expansions. However, already this big box is highly valuable and to the brim filled with experiences and quality, that grabs you and just does not let go. Fireteam Zero offers a great atmosphere and at the same time a real challenge for all lovers of tactics.

DesignerMike Langlois, Christian Leonhard
ArtistLoïc Muzy, Gary Simpson
PublisherEmergent Games (II), dV Giochi, Edge Entertainment, Heidelberger Spieleverlag, MeepleBR, Play & Win, Ulisses Spiele
Year Published
# of Players1 - 4
User Suggested # of Players Best with 4+ players
Recommended with 1, 2, 3, 4 players
(38 voters)
Playing Time90
Mfg Suggested Ages14 and up
User Suggested Ages12 and up
(10 voters)
Language DependenceModerate in-game text - needs crib sheet or paste ups
(4 voters)
CategoryAdventure, Fantasy, Fighting, Horror, Miniatures, World War II
MechanicCooperative Game, Deck Construction, Dice Rolling, Storytelling, Variable Player Powers
ExpansionFireteam Zero: Africa Cycle, Fireteam Zero: Escalation Pack, Fireteam Zero: Europe Cycle, Fireteam Zero: Fireteam Delta Female Hero Pack, Fireteam Zero: Fireteam Echo Male Hero Pack, Fireteam Zero: Mission Generator Pack, Fireteam Zero: Mission Pack – Team Challenge, Fireteam Zero: Mission Pack – Team Competition, Fireteam Zero: Monster Pack A, Fireteam Zero: Monster Pack B, Fireteam Zero: Monster Pack C, Fireteam Zero: Monster Pack D, Fireteam Zero: Operation Harbinger, Fireteam Zero: Recon Event Pack
FamilyCategory: Dungeon Crawler, Crowdfunding: Kickstarter, Game: Fireteam Zero
Primary NameFireteam Zero

Infos courtesy of boardgamegeek.com. More Infos.

Review: Fireteam Zero – hell behind enemy lines
Final word
Fireteam Zero is a luxury horror fun with all the trimmings. Are you tired of all those Descent and Zombicides? Try letting a real horror game spill your blood. Offering a story connected into scenarios and monsters, which are truly scary. The game is very tactical and players have they success and fulfilling tasks firmly in their hands. As in all similar games also in Fireteam Zero, the outcome of battles is decided by dice. But the coincidence brings only further stress and fun, because players themselves decide on number of rolled dice (up to eight max). Its not good to just use all the cards right away, because they have multiple uses and can be useful later. Fireteam Zero is great and very difficult game for all seasoned heroes.
Reader Rating0 Votes
Pros
determining attack strength with cards
cards used as lives
great atmosphere
really difficult game
game is all about survival
each character has its own deck
tension from beginning to end
Cons
random (fighting monsters, exploring)
absent of heroes upgrades and items (yet?)
occasional quick losses (which mean chance for a new game)
4.5
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