Review: Kick-Ass The Board Game – board game for superheroes
You will not become a superhero just like that. It is not just about courage or badass name. You can get yourself killed, if you are too naive. Besides, you need to have some superpower, and it does not have to be anything unattainable, like being bitten by experimental spider or soaking in a radioactive waste barrel. Many of the greatest figures of human heroes have achieved this with just a lot of luck and training.
And that’s exactly, what young man in a green suit did. He called himself Kick-Ass, hero of popular comic book Mark Millard (and the designer John Romity Jr.) and of course amazing movie of the same name directed by Matthew Vaughn. Surprisingly, however, eight years later (the first film went to cinemas in 2010), board game Kick-Ass: The Board Game was created by three designers – Hjalmar Hach, Roberto Pestrin and Maurizio Vergendo. They introduced their vision under flag of Cool Mini or Not (CMON).
Box could be a bit misleading in its size, which is not completely square, but apparently just rectangular and therefore smaller. But its quite full and heavy and its contents is guarded by the characters of Kick-Ass and his girlfriend Hit Girl. Inside, the player explores a map of New York divided into eight districts. Above it, there is also a space for round counter, and a position for a stack of six shuffled random event cards.
Individual participants choose their character and mark required scales (happiness, social networks, health and strength) on apropriate hero card. Players will also receive three dollar starting wealth, item cards, set of five activation cards and, above all, a miniature, that they will put in the indicated starting location for that hero. Players will also get two cards of trouble, but they place it picture down as inactive on their board as a threat of worse times to come.
From blue and red activation cards, players prepare offer a number of revealed cards, and the same will they do for the item and minion cards. In the end, players will randomly choose one boss and his event deck.
Cooperative matches are always divided into nine rounds. At the beginning of each of them, a new event card will appear in the game and will be visible usually for three rounds, influencing the game. Each such notice has its fulfillment conditions, a reward, but also a maturation effect, if the card reaches third position of the even track (by moving one step to the right every round).
At the beginning of every day (divided into three parts), a minion spawn card is revealed, adding new enemies to some locations and eventually trying to harm the players. However, their number is determined not by the card, but by game progress and mostly by incoming track indicator on a large board. With every card, the pointer is moved one field to the right, and so while in quiet times only four new enemies appear, later there may (and will) be more. Criminality is increasing in the city and heroes are starting to get under pressure. In the event that the number of criminals has reached the maximum capacity in chosen location, the new additions will begin to flow to another area in the direction of the yellow arrow.
It is finally time for players to choose one activation card from their hand. Everyone can use one and the whole team should agree on the overall strategy. Only then each chooses one card from his own hands, without anyone interfering with him. Card adds a movement point to its owner, allowing him to move between areas, as well as other profits. This may be a new income or enhancement of one of the heroes, but in addition it also has a specific bonus for the given area, called the timer effect.
With the help of activation cards, heroes can also fight a minion in their current location. The player equpis himself with a set of attacking (red) and defensive (blue) dice. He gets them from his stats, but also from items worn by the character. During the roll, he tries not only to defend himself against the attack of villain with the help of shields (undefended attack hurts him), but especially making hits to his adversaries and chase them to a retreat.
Activation cards come in three types – blue for everyday activities, red for heroic acts in a disguise, and green available only, if the hero becomes famous (a box all the way to the right on the social network scale).
Whole process with a new bad guy appearing and chance to play one card for each participant is repeated three times before the day ends. The game then goes into the sleep phase, in which players check their troubles, if they are activated. Bad sleeping is a result of happiness, that can drop and gradually make player reveal one or both cards of his personal problems. Additionally, right now, heroes can be penalized for an unsolved villain plan from rightmost event card.
At the end of every round, players can take back their activate cards, so they are holding five again. Right now, they can also spend their money and buy a new activation card from offer, in exchange for another. They can never hold more than five to choose from. Used items, which are limited to one activation per round, are reactivated.
However, struggle with evil does not end like this. When a player defeats three evil plans (event cards), villain himself comes into play with his big and destructive plan. He may have his special additional setup rules – especially his event cards will replace the remaining deck of events and these new cards will be uncovered instead. A new scale will also enter the game, tracking the state of armor, life, or other elements of the boss with digits. If a team of heroes succeed in completing a task from the main boss, before completing the ninth round of the game, they can celebrate victory. Another day, when danger was averted. But if their time runs out, ninth round is over and the bad guy is still threatening the city, game ends with an inevitable defeat.
Kick-Ass: The Board Game is a really interesting cooperative game that focuses on the neglected superhero theme. In addition, it’s a fantastic comic and movie theme, both of which have a lot of fans, and that’s why Kick-Ass is (or should be) pretty high in the viewfinder of many of them.
This game was a pleasant surprise, when it arrived. We had no idea the game existed before that (but that’s maybe also a bad thing). The game offers a really interesting opportunity to deal with the ever-increasing infestation of villains in New York city. From this point of view, it reminds a bit of Dead of Winter.
But then there are event cards, that bring a new task for each round and the team has to deal with it. There is always something going on, new threats are emerging, players have to worry about well-being of their characters and it is not easy to face it all at once. But the players have a great feeling, that really reflects the interesting life of superheroes – their civic side, but also the ability to fight in costumes using all the skills they have.
In addition, each hero has several scales, that all make sense. The basic thing are life points, but more interesting is the scale of popularity (hero increases it with his actions) and also ordinary life satisfaction. And while higher popularity brings with it some benefits, when hero is unhappy on the other hand, cards with some negative impacts are revealed. Each superhero comes to a crisis of his own sometimes.
We are very pleased with the game, especially in terms of variability. There are five bosses to choose from and there are many parts, that are randomly chosen for every game. Therefore, players will experience a heavy and different challenge even when playing repeatedly. This is of course also true for event cards, that are randomly selected before the game and a range of items that can be purchased.
Very important for the whole experience is also the element of building the deck. It remains really small throughout whole game and always has a maximum of five cards, but the more important is the balance of these cards. Players should collaborate on this element and plan their new cards to work well together. Their order is not limited during any part of the day, so they can also plan according to position and situation, depending on how their figurines stand at a given moment on the New York map.
The game is surprisingly simple gameplaywise for its size and thickness. There are no unnecessary little rules to forget. Perhaps the effects of individual areas are a bit extra, but they are also another element to be taken into account.
But the biggest weapon is atmosphere. The theme is absolutely great in itself and its processing is not lacking behind, not even a bit. You feel as if you were really standing in New York alongside Daddy, protecting your fellow countrymen against endless evil plans. Add a wonderful processing, whether in terms of graphics or miniatures, and you have really amazing feel.
Dice play an important role in battles. They decide fights and maybe they also affects the fact, that winning is not easy. But being difficult to win in our case is definitely more pleasure, than a con. Every move brings heavy decisions and choices of lesser evil. The team should communicate well. Maybe even these discussion interludes have the effect, that the whole game takes a surprisingly long time. You can (and will) easily reach two hours, which can be a boundary element for similar games. The number of players increases this time as well.
Kick-Ass: The Board Game has been able to extract maximum from its license and slip it all into the game. If you are a fan of the story of warrior for the oppressed, then you should order a new addition to your collection right now. And if you still hesitate, then perhaps longer gameplay or cooperative conception can change your mind into not buying. But thing well, because Kick-Ass: The Board Game is really a solid entertainment, that definitely will not lose in any adventure superhero expedition.
Review: Kick-Ass The Board Game – board game for superheroes
Kick-Ass: The Board Game is an exciting superhero game that will provide thrilling experience. But you must have the right expectations - you should not mind frequent defeats and long matches, that can often lead to the bad ending. The game is partially controlled by luck, which the whole team has to deal with. But the game is filled with atmosphere, tough decisions and lots of interesting elements, that are perfectly cut out of the theme. The game is solidly variable and looks absolutely gorgeous. Therefore, it is not possible to criticize it for a few subjective elements. On the contrary, we must happily recommend Kick-Ass: The Board Game to any boardgamer.