I’d heard almost nothing about this game, except for the fact that it was a dexterity game and that it looked cutesy, but I’m a sucker for dexterity games, especially ones depicting wholesale carnage in a city of meeples. Further, I’d heard that the meeples come in six colors depicting different types of personality, such as soldiers, old men, and blondes, and that who you ate mattered. Since I’ve had extensive appearance experience eating blondes, I thought it would be a good fit. I un-pledged my 250$ or so from the new Dwarven Forge Kickstarter because I already have six 27-gallon tubs of the stuff, and proceeded to being on a bit of a spending spree. In my house, if money gets allocated, it had better be spent, or you lose it; I ended up with Rampage, Settlers of Catan (again), Quarriors: Quartifacts (May my 12 year old suffer for this), Lords of Waterdeep (again, this makes 3 times) and Stone Age (again). That burned through maybe 3/4 of my cash and I’m holding out for something truly awesome. Feel free to recommend, and if you say “The Duke”, eat a bag of dicks, because I played it 30 years ago when it was called “Chess”.
Anyhow, Rampage caught the most immediate attention, and so it was the first to be un-boxed and played. The rules are incredibly simple, and Repos Production, the publisher, was kind enough to include a shitload of examples and a short FAQ section that did a great job of guiding us through play. As it turns out, if you were to look at this from the 10,000 foot perspective and announce that it’s a kid game, you’d be wrong by several orders of magnitude. It looks like a kid game, but it is in fact one of the truly fucking nastiest, most utterly evil, brutally confrontational games of all time. It’s like Godzilla meets Diplomacy if you play it right. Maybe that’s just how we play it, but it’s not at all like what the artwork would have you believe. There’s a ton more game in the box than the Super Mario art illustrates.
Anyhow, regarding the components, it’s kind of an amazing design regardless of the cartoon art, which is actually quite good despite being very youthful. One of the smartest things are that not only is it a puzzle board that actually fits together well, but the little ruins tiles that come along with the game are sticky-backed and you remove a film which allows you to glue them onto the board. This is important because you flick discs to move on the board, and if the glue boards weren’t glued down, every flick would topple a building; the glued boards act as little bumper areas so that you can bounce off of them without toppling buildings. There’s also the fact that you place these big wooden monsters on the discs when you’re done moving so that people can take actions to knock you over, which scores points and hurts your ability to act.
Beyond that, the wooden monsters have little ridges on their heads so that you can place the car tokens on top without having them slide off. Throwing cars is a big part of the game, and this was just a smart, practical design move. It’s these little details that make this a very smartly designed, well thought-out game. Also, there’s three unique sets of cards in the game that define which monster type you are, what your powers are, and one of the cards is a one-time use power which can be played to give you a big boost. My copy from Coolstuff Inc was shipped with some meeple stickers, which was the low point, since they are cut poorly and since the meeples aren’t all cut uniformly, the stickers hang over in spots. It’s also 45 minutes or so to sticker the whole thing versus five if you forego putting the meeple stickers on. Finally, I will caution you to be very careful removing the glue liner on the back of the puzzle piece because even though I was careful and I have a high level of hand precision, I still managed to pull some of the laminated cardboard up. The good news is that a dab of Mod Podge between the layers and an overnight stay under a heavy book will sort it right out.
I can talk about all kinds of neat little aspects in the game, but for me, the best part of the game, to be honest, is that the actions you can take in the game. These revolve entirely around flicking cars off the top of your monster’s head, putting your chin on the monster’s head and blowing things over until you see stars, flicking your disc to move as I mentioned before, and my personal favorite, picking up your monster and dropping it on top of buildings, blowing them to high heaven. It’s a very tactile game, to say the least, and there’s not a single thing that you can do in the game that isn’t inherently fun. I can’t really think of any other game, even my beloved Heroscape, that can say that. My only gripe about the game, which was echoed by others, is that the board is a little too small for four players, making it a bit claustrophobic and too easy to attack other monsters. This ends up with a lot of nearly-toothless monsters, which needlessly lengthens the duration.
|How’s about you kiss me hard on the mouth. Godziller?|
Another factor that makes this game neat is the “run away” board, a little side tableau that stores meeples that have eluded the monsters via being knocked off the board. It’s double sided and has several sections, with each having a set amount of spaces per section before calamity strikes the monster that knocked the last one in a section off. It’s another facet of the game that allows you to pursue alternate strategies, such as intentionally knocking off just the right amount of meeples so that the following player has to be incredibly careful or suffer the loss of a tooth and other tragedies. I’m telling you, for as many teeth as are lost in an hour of play, this game might’ve been called Kentucky Rampage.
The long and short is that you should never judge a book by its cover, and with Rampage, this adage is incredibly apt. I am disappointed that they went the King of Tokyo route on this instead of making it a really grim, dark monster game, but that disappointment is tempered by the fact that this game is fucking awesome on every level. I rarely say something is for everyone, or a true “auto-buy”, but if you don’t own this, you’re missing out. If you don’t like this game, there’s something seriously wrong with you. Not a single person I played with, from a 47 year old man to a 12 year old girl, had anything but great things to say about it. There’s very few games that are so universally lauded, repeatedly, by my groups. I think the only downside is that the temptation to play it over and over again will eventually lead to burn-out, but 6 games in I’m still fine with playing it again, and this is over the span of 4 days. My real gripe is that I can’t get Stone Age to the table, but I suspect that has everything to do with the smell of the dice cup.
I’m not cute, I’ll mess you up…
The enormous monster crotch catapult…