Review: Wastelanders

(big pic here)

Wastelanders:  Not a waste!

Good things do come in small packages, and Wastelanders proves that point.  I played a 3-player game and was immediately impressed with most of the contents.  The art lived up to my expectations, the placement locations are good, not great.  The one area that I think needed some improvement was the food and ammo tokens. Luckily there is a FAQ... you'll find it here.

Let's go back to the beginning...

There are issues with this game and they became apparent right away.  If you look closely at the picture to the left, you'll see we set up in what the game calls our gameplay areas. Do they eventually link up?  Are they supposed to?  If yes, do we need to set them up so that when we link, they match up sides to sides or ends to ends?

The rules don't talk about that.

We start with one random wastelander, they each have their own special skills, which you will have to reference again and again since memorizing them is impossible. It's not that hard, just something to do before you begin a turn.  Plotting to put your best person on a location that requires the person to camp there, is a bad idea.

Don't attach yourself to one person on your team, they might have to die.

Another issues arrises when you get a second person on your team.  Who are you?  Are you the first wastelander, or the second, or the 10th?  The answer is none of them.  You're the group, the team, you represent the body of the team.  Don't attach yourself to one person on your team, they might have to die.

This next picture, on the right, was taken after several turns of the game.  We decided that the areas should link up, but in reality that's not required. I think it would be fun to play either way, linked or no linking allowed.

One of the players placed locations that kicked his requiting up so high, that he had a massive 8 person team while the other teams were one or two.  That's just the breaks but...

It brought up another issues.  The tokens for food ran out.  I don't mean we ran out of food, we ran out of the physical tokens.  Does that mean there there is no food to forage?  Or do we use other tokens as placeholders?  We had no idea from the rules, but later research into the Frequently Asked Questions, see the link above, told us that food is limited to tokens that came with the game.  THAT would have changed the game we played, drastically.

Now at this point, you might be thinking we don't like this game, actually, we do. Everything is in balanced, the food came along, or didn't as per the dice rolls, the locations played a huge part and we loved how that worked as well.  We have one big suggestion, keep your combatants together. When we did combat, separating the shooters really cut down on their defense and made attacking a no win situation.

...keep your combatants together.

I am already thinking of chits to replace the tokens, that maybe are a bit easier to handle, but that's not a game design item, just something for my group. The game has many layers of strategy and just the right amount of randomness to keep me and my group coming back for more.  Considering also how easy the rules are to follow, although I think they would have benefitted from one or two additional pages.

They recognize the issues and are working on ways to mitigate them.  There was talk of some sort of character card to help track inventory.  The rules don't state it, again, but we assume people drop all their items when they die for others to pick up.  But exactly is carrying what?  There's no way to keep track.  We played that if they had a gun, they dropped food and ammo, no gun they dropped only food.

Despite the rules holes, and there may be more, we think this game was fun, engaging and would be played again, several more times.  It was also easy to teach new players, a huge plus.

Overall grade: C+

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