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Thibaud Dejardin
France
Ferrère-La-Grande
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1WHAT'S THE GAME ABOUT
The game is about escaping an alien lab (and not really a prison) shaped like a moving labyrinth. If you were ewpecting a prison escape simulation, you will be deceived here. No prison would have rooms with control panels and DNA to use everywhere. And absolutely no guards patrolling in the beginning!

No, it's really about escaping an experimentation lab with cunning before the ennemy station can raise enought guards to stop you.

The Labyrinth theme really shines while playing. It is a nice feeling to discover you just entered a dead end because you didn't explore carefully enought before moving. If you read "Labyrinth", that's exactly how I imagine that place. You're surrounded by big walls, and you have to run before the configuration changes.

2GAME COMPONENTS

1The box
That box is HUGE and impressive. That's the largest box I own, and it will fit nowhere in my gaming shelves. I like the art on it even if that's not overly fancy. The insert is excellent. One you won't have to throw away. It keeps everything sorted and easy to access, even miniatures. If only it alloweded sleeved cards (it is required because the game implies a lot of shuffling), it would be perfect. I can still place the cadrs on the edges of the insert, so everything is nice and easy to setup when I want a quick game.

2The boardThe board is, for sure, one important part of the game. It is a massive piece of plastic. It is not mobile itself, but the cardboard tiles (rooms) you put in the circles do move around the center. It does work really well.
I like the art on the tiles: even when they are not discovered, the board look really nice. The art is really consistent.

About the rooms, for green, yellow and red, you draw 2 out of 4 rooms wich are added to the "standard rooms". That adds some replayability.
I think there's something missed here: I'm sure the production cost was not due to the tiles, so why not have included more random tiles, to add even more randomness in the setup? I would have appreciated more rooms with walls or guards, for example, which add another layer to the game. That could have led to different experiences for different tastes.

3The miniatures
Let's face it, they are not that great. Maybe I'm too accusomed to CMON standard, but those one are far from perfect. Manufacture issues appart, they are not well detailed or sculpted, especially the players and Minautors. I like the Loctaes like they are. Minautors look unfinished and not scarry at all. Player miniatures look uninspired and generic. Something missed here, too.

Let's add there's only a few different characters each with one different ability. Those abilities are well thought, and may change the way you play (especially the little girl and Morrow, they offer a whole different experience in solo, for example). Here too, something is missed: that would have been not so costy to add a few alternate players with different powers, even without new miniatures. Alternate player boards would have been a cool KS (or not KS) addition.

I also with the Loctaes were a different color than the minotaurs, because it's sometimes a little hard to spot them all in a crowded board (in the end of the game, all miniatures cas be on the board at once), and they move each activation, so you will look for them often!

4The cards
The cards are thick and I really like the art on them. The monsters are scarry on the cards, like you want them to be. The white cards are a little hard to read (those arrows are tiny!). On a good note, each card has a small symbol (one letter) on its botton indicating its color for color-blind poeple.

I think sleeving is needed, even if the cards are of nice quality, because during the game, you will shuffle the deck quite often.

5The dice:
Some dices are added for variants. One indicate an inactive room each turn, another how many cards are visible, and another is a timer (which I will never use).
They are a little big, but OK.

6Other components:
There's a few tokens to indicate player penalty (when captured) and doors. They are thick like the board tiles. You have one player aid per player, but I wished the possible actions would be indicated on the room description. It is easy learned, but during your first game, you might make some mistakes.

Finally, you have cristal blue cubes for action counting.

3GAMEPLAY

General pace:
The game plays in two basic phases: player and ennemy phase.

During the player phase, you can use your action tokens to take different actions. Move, give a card, explore (turn a tile) and draw one card are your basic actions. You need an appropriate ennemy card to kill one ennemy, and you can take situational actions, depening on the room you're on. You can hide on egg rooms (I wish there were more of those, the "Hide and seek" mechanic is super cool but underused), draw 2 cards on a laboratory tile, or exchange cards with the ennemy board, to affect the future ennemy phase and/or take cards you need to open doors or kill ennemies. A nice thing is that all players can take their actions in any order. That adds a new layer of strategy.

During the ennemy phase, you rotate a number of rooms and move ennemies, depending on the cards present on the ennemy board. The pace of the game is a little like Zombicide: in the beginning, the board is rarely a threat. You have almost full control on it, because only one card will be activated for rooms and ennemies moving.

But each time you open a door to a new color-ring (blue to red, red to yellow, yellow to green, where the escape shuttle is), more and more cards will be activated, leading you to make choices and be unable to control everything.

The turns play fast and even with 8 ennemy cards to activate, it goes quite fast. The minautors are stupid: they always stay in their ring, but if they are too many, they may transform in Loctae.
The Loctae are actively searching you and are moving really fast. They are also harder to anticipate and destroy.

Scales with different player count:
Up to now, I played with 1, 2 and 3 player count.
Each is quite different and feels equilibrated.
Basically, the more players you have, the least action per player you get, and your hand limit is reduced, making it important to collaborate to escape.

I played the game solo with Morrow (it can move on undiscovered tiles and can walk past guards without being caught), and it offers an intense and fast game. I almost won: I had all cards in hand and next turn, I would have started the escape pod. But those pesky Loctae stopped me. Game Over man!

With two or three players, it's important to collaborate and not be too reckless. If a player is captured, it is really hard to free him, and it adds a penalty, wich, for me is a double pain. Having to go all the way to the internal rings is punishing enought.

DDifficulty enhancers:
A lot of "variants" have been included in the box. A few look to be part of the full game (hidden informations and packets variants) and add anothr layer of stratey to the game, while others are not so nice (at least, I don't like the timer and the "no talking" variants).
The basic game is already hard, and adding some of those variants make it really challenging, like a cooperative game must be!
I'm usually really good at this kind of game but I needed 4 attempts to have my first victory with the basic game. Then I immediately added some enhancers.

4CONCLUSIONS


I give it a seven and a half on ten.
It is a good game with a unique mechanic and experience. The labyrinth feeling is really present, and the game is both strategic and fast to play. A lot of things are known, but you cannot control everything. When you lose, you often feel you've made a mistake: you were not carefull enought and ended in a dead end, or you were too cautious and had too many loctae on the board...

There is a learning curve in the game, to be able to fully use the different player abilities and combinations, and know when to explore, and when to progress.

The game plays fast (one hour?) but is really intense! It is a relatively light game by rules (the rulebook is really nice), only a few points are complicated (Loctae move), but it is a really thoughtfull game.

The price has been talked about a lot, so here is my impression:
Some elements justify an "hors norme" price: the big plastic board and the unusually large (huge) box. However, I find the price to be a little too high for the experience it delivers.
I had the game at a nice discount (90 euros), so that's not so bad for me. But for the high price, I wish a few more less costy components were present, like additionnal alternative tiles and alternate player boards. That would have increased the product value without impacting the production cost too much.

I don't regret having bought the game, but I'm not sure I would buy it at its actual price (130 euros now), even if I would then lose a great experience.


Thank you for reading, and sorry for the mistakes.zombie

Archange.

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Sebastian Beck
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Great review for a great game. Rating is too low though.
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Thibaud Dejardin
France
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Beckikaze wrote:
Great review for a great game. Rating is too low though.

Thank you

I would have given 0.5 if the price was fairer, 0.5 for better miniatures, and 0.5 for more alternative tiles and/or more heroes.

So, It could have been a 9/10!
Mechanically, it's an awesome game.
Visually, the board is great, but the miniatures not so great.
It's a pleasure to play, and I can see myself playing it quite a lot.
 
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Trueflight Silverwing
United States
Waverly
New York
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I agree with just about everything said here. I backed out of being a backer on the KS for the game at the last moment. Originally I was really excited about it and even had the designers on my podcast as guests, but the negative things that you had to say were pretty much mirrored in my mind.

I will keep an eye out for the game on sale or clearance as I really do want to pick it up at some point, but the $150 price tag is an immediate turn off at the quality of components (mostly the models) that come in the game regardless of its fun factor.
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Matt Smith
United States
Orion
Michigan
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Ender02 wrote:
I agree with just about everything said here. I backed out of being a backer on the KS for the game at the last moment. Originally I was really excited about it and even had the designers on my podcast as guests, but the negative things that you had to say were pretty much mirrored in my mind.

I will keep an eye out for the game on sale or clearance as I really do want to pick it up at some point, but the $150 price tag is an immediate turn off at the quality of components (mostly the models) that come in the game regardless of its fun factor.

I like to look at the value of a game based on how much play I can expect to get out of it. Of my 2016 game purchases, only Terraforming Mars has a lower cost/play. My TDS cost/play is $13.50, while TM is $11.60. Two more plays of TDS and it will become my 2016 best value from a cost/play perspective. And since my wife loves TDS but will never play TM, The value of TDS will continue to increase.
 
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steve park-smith
Australia
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Hi

Just played this and it is fun. The board and its mechanics are good. Once set up is fast to play. The only downside is the minis which are really bad. A shame because rest of the game is good.
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Jeff D
United States
Austin
Texas
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Right?
We demoed this from the BGGCon library because the giant box caught our eye in the vendor area, and the experience was fun enough to buy it there (at a bit of a discount).

Vasel tore this game to shreds, and while he's right that the miniature component quality should definitely be better for the price, it's kind of cool to get a giant ridiculous game you enjoy every once in a while. We will definitely get a decent number of plays from it.

The thing I really want to know is: why is Baxter not on the box cover with the other four running into the green ring?


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