TABLE GAME REVIEW: Tripods!

tripods!The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one, but still they came…to play Tripods! Well, who can blame them? This week on GS Table Games, we go back in time to Victorian London and try to escape the onslaught of the Martian war machines.

 

 

What does Tripods! say on the box?

It’s the last years of the 19th century and London is under attack from outer space. The population panics.

Tidings of Martian war machines and devastation spread throughout the city. Newspaper sellers cry their headlines even as they flee the oncoming carnage.

Carriages are fought over in a bid to escape the crush of the narrow streets, and as railway workers valiantly strive to convey people to safety, the helpless mass of humanity turn on each other in a frantic bid to avoid destruction…

I first played this game at Asylum the Steampunk festival in Lincoln earlier this year and fell in love with the idea and the game mechanics. When I found out that it was still in a fundraising situation, I knew we had to try and support it so that others could play the game.

Geoff Sims the “Game Conceptualiser” was kind enough to go through the game with me and also do an interview for Geek Syndicate, which you can find HERE.

What you get in the box

What you get in the box

Then the game arrived in the post to review with a note saying be careful, as it was still a prototype. This made it even more exciting. Was the game as good as I remembered? Was there re-playability? These questions would be answered when I played the game with two others.

We set the board giving each player their coloured meeples (little people), and each got our own coloured set of character cards. Then we shuffled the Tidings deck and sorted the large sized Headline cards in order. Next up, we set up the Tripods on their stands and did the same for the military units. Finally, we were ready to play the game. The aim of the game is to get as many of your people off the board as possible and to score Survival Points (SPs) before all your people are killed by the Martian death rays.

The characters cards describe 5 different people, and each has their own special ability during the game that you can use only once per card, per turn, and then the card is turned over. If, at the end of game, you still have cards that are not used, you gain extra SP’s (survival points).

The five cards are the Journalist, who can ignore the effects of the Tidings card that has just been drawn. The Curate can remove one of your PC’s (Populace Counter) to safety from the board or can protect a location from the heat ray or black smoke. The Artilleryman can move one of your PC’s 5 spaces. The Slender Lady can destroy another players PC at the same location as one of yours.  Finally, the Lieutenant can bring on a military unit or move one not being used to a location of your choice.

So you need to choose if and when to use these cards, because if you don’t need to it could mean the difference between winning and losing the game.

Character cards

Character cards

The first player starts by taking the top Headline card that shows what you need to do with the start of the game. This means that each player starts by placing their PC, or Meeple, as some people call them. After everyone has placed their PC’s on the board in the locations as detailed on the card, you also place chance counters and drop a Cylinder on the board. The chance counters are two sided with a question mark on one side and either a horse and carriage or a Martian cylinder on the other side. The first player turns over the chance counters so we see what they are and activates the first Cylinder marked 1. This means that the cylinder has spawned a Martian Tripod, but it is not active yet, so it lays on its side until the next round.

The Headline cards

The Headline cards

The next player then resolves the 2nd Headline card, which allows all players to place more PC’s on the board in the locations detailed, and also activates the 2nd cylinder. The last thing on this card is that the train is put in motion by landing on the first station, Kingston. The train has its own track where the train counter is moved around when a Tidings card displays a station name. The idea is that if you can get to a station that has the train on it, you can get your PC out of London, but if you try to get to the train at its current station, you may get there in time before it moves on. So you need to make a plan to head to the next station on the board and wait for it there without getting killed by the Tripods. The rest of the Headline cards are shown when directed from a Tidings card throughout the game. Each Headline card will have certain actions that will advance the game. When the last Headline card is turned, the game is over.

After you have resolved the 2nd headline card, the game starts proper as we get into the actual rounds. The first action is that the player draws a tidings card and resolves in order what the card shows. The tidings cards will have up to three icons, which mean an event will happen. Black Smoke  is the most deadly, because it means that any PC’s at a location with a tripod are destroyed. Dispatch will mean you can grab and place a military unit somewhere to do battle. Tripod will make a player grab a tripod and place it at the location on the Tidings card. Train departs will move the train on the train station track along to the next station on the board. A coloured line means that the Tripods all move along the board one space following the same coloured line. Imagine this like a tube map. Red weed cards will mean that you place the Tidings card on top of the board, so it now shows that location covered in red weed. Lastly, Stop Press means you take a Headline card.

The Tidings cards

The Tidings cards

The next action to take place after the Tidings cards is the Heat Ray. This will activate on any location with red weed, so you need to try and move before that happens. The next action is nominate attacks, which allows you to use a military unit to attack a tripod in an adjacent location. To attack a tripod, you look at your military unit and find the number printed on the card (e.g. 3) and then you roll the dice and you add the two numbers together. If the number is equal or higher than the number on the tripod, you have destroyed the Tripod. You then keep the military as a trophy and will be able to claim SP’s at the end of the game.

The next two actions will allow you to move your PC’s around the board. You start by counting how many PC’s you have on the board and then roll the dice and add them together to give your Action Points or AP’s. You can spend these to move your PC’s around by either using all the points on one PC, or spreading them out so one could move 10 spaces or 5 can move 2 spaces each etc.

Also you can “cash in” a character card for 2 action points as well, but then that card is now turned over and dead for the rest of the game. Another way to move around the board is by jumping in a horse and carriage that give you an additional 5 spaces free for the PC in the carriage.

So during the game you need to resolve the actions and then move your PC’s around the board and get to either a train station or get to a dock and jump on a boat out of the city. Once you get a PC out of London, they are safe and out of the game. At the end of the game, all players count up their survival points (SP’s) and see who the winner is.

The box had a decent board with some cool components, and knowing this was a demo version, I think that the some of card pieces would be made of better quality but they are fine to play as they are now. I loved the Headline cards and also the board, because the artwork looks like a lot of effort and thought has gone into making this a truly loving tribute to the H.G. Wells story.

This is also a great way to introduce the book to a younger audience. In fact, when we played it we wanted to have Jeff Wayne’s music on in the background, which I suggest you try if you get to play this game.

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To sum up, this is an original themed game with some simple rules yet with exciting dynamics. You can pick up the rules quickly and it is a competitive game, but also we are all against the evil Martian war machines, so sometimes you do find yourself helping others. It does have re-playability due to the randomness of the cards, and each time you play I can guarantee there will be a lot of different outcomes.

To see what you get in the box and the game play check out this video below.

 

You can find out more about the game HERE or buy it in the US from Game Crafter HERE.

For more news and reviews on board games go HERE, and to find your nearest game stockist check out this map HERE.

Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Montoya

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