Having recently played and thoroughly enjoyed Get Lucky! and knowing that I had a week-long vacation coming up so that my wife and I could celebrate our one year wedding anniversary, I decided that I’d like to dig up some other Cheapass Games offerings and give them a try. First among these was Devil Bunny Needs a Ham and, after having played the game a few times, I have come away with two very strong opinions. First, James Ernest is insane. Second, James Ernest is a genius.
For anybody reading this that isn’t already familiar with Cheapass Games, it is a game company that has been pumping out games since the mid-1990s with the goal of delivering unique games at a super low price. Their philosophy is that most gamers have other games already that contain dice, tokens, play money, and such and that they can deliver new games at a significantly lower cost to the consumer by simply not including all of these extra items in every single game. The games typically come packaged in some kind of envelope or plastic bag or cardboard container and this game, Devil Bunny Needs a Ham, is no exception.
In Devil Bunny Needs a Ham you are playing the part of a sous chef who is trying to climb the outside of a skyscraper for some unfathomable reason (my guess would be you lost a team challenge on Hell’s Kitchen). Somewhere up there at the top of this skyscraper is a killer Bunny that hails from the very depths of hell and he desperately needs a ham. Devil Bunny thinks that knocking you off of the skyscraper will help him get it.
Like I said, James Ernest is apparently insane.
Having read the description on the outside of the envelope, I must admit I was kind of afraid of what I’d find inside. Hesitantly, I opened the envelope and emptied its contents onto the table. What fell out were three sheets of paper. The first sheet of paper was a set of rules on how to play the game. The other two pieces of paper were the upper and lower halves of a skyscraper.
Surely, I thought, a game with this few components and looking as cheaply made as it was could not possibly present anything even resembling a challenge, but I had already determined that I was going to play the game no matter what, so I pushed aside these notions and continued onward.
The envelope told me that I’d need three dice since I was playing with just two players, so I gathered up a few dice. It also told me that I’d need a marker of some sort to represent Devil Bunny and another three markers per player to represent the three sous chefs that we’d each be controlling. Having played Magic: the Gathering since the mid-1990s, I have accumulated quite a stockpile of glass counters, so I just grabbed a few of those. Then I placed the two halves of the skyscraper onto the table. The sous chefs went to the bottom of the building and the Devil Bunny was placed on the spot at the top of the tower that had the Devil Bunny icon next to it.
That was it. We were ready to play.
GAME PLAY - BREAK DOWN
The skyscraper is split into several parts. First, there is the bottom half and this is separated from the top half by a line referred to as ‘the line of death’. It is helpfully labeled as such right there on the skyscraper. If a player should fall from above this line without being caught, then the piece that fell goes splat and is out of the game. At the top of the skyscraper is the SAFETY! zone. Each letter of the word SAFETY is worth decreasing amounts of points. Because of this, it pays to get to the top of the skyscraper first.
GAME PLAY - MOVEMENT AND BUNNY ATTACKS
Climbing up the skyscraper is accomplished by rolling the dice. In a two player game, three dice are rolled. For each separate die, you can move any one of your sous chefs up to the amount that is listed on the die. You are not required to use up the entire movement. You can choose to move all three of your sous chefs, or you could just opt to move one or two.
Each sous chef can only move horizontally or diagonally, but never vertically. On the edges of the building are black areas where your sous chefs are afraid to go, so you cannot pass through or stop on those spaces. If a six is rolled, then the Devil Bunny will attack and knock off the person who is the highest up on the building. If two players tie, then the Devil Bunny will attack the person that is the furthest to the left. If multiple sixes are rolled, then the Devil Bunny will attack multiple people until it has attacked as many times as there are sixes.
GAME PLAY - CATCHING PEOPLE
If a player has a piece that is directly beneath another piece that is falling, then that player ‘catches’ the falling piece regardless of whether they want to or not. The caught piece is placed beneath the catching player in one of the two spaces diagonally beneath the catching player or in the space directly beneath the catching player so long as those spaces are legal.
A large portion of your movement is going to be spent ensuring that your pieces are lined up on top of one another whenever you can get them that way. Barring that, stopping your piece directly above one of your opponent’s pieces is the next best thing. It would be nice if you could climb down, but the rules do not allow for it. This is a shame because it would certainly add another element of strategy to the game.
Once every sous chef that can reach the top of the building has, the points are added up and the person with the most wins. Then, presumably, Gordon Ramsay comes out and awards them with their very own restaurant for them to run into the ground and for him to come by and fix up at a later date. The Devil Bunny, unfortunately, never ever wins.
For being such a simplistic game, there was a surprising amount of strategy involved. Sometimes, I realized, moving one of my sous chefs would actually benefit my opponent if I were to stop my move there. The trick was trying to figure out a way to move that left my sous chefs in a good position that either forced my opponent to move to a less than desirable location or forced them to move in such a way that it would leave them hanging high and dry above the line of death.
Devil Bunny Needs a Ham was decently fun, however, it comes up somewhat lacking in a two player game. I could not help but feel that, even though the game can accommodate two people, it would be much, much better with even more. This is a game of madcap silliness and it just isn’t very silly with only two people playing. If you’re looking for a silly ice breaker, you can’t go wrong with this game. It’s super easy to play, very easy to set up, and it’s a lot of fun.
- Last edited Wed Nov 20, 2013 3:33 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Mon Nov 18, 2013 9:26 pm
Nice review. The title is very clever.
One small note on the rules. If you catch a falling sous-chef and someone is beneath you, you can pass the falling player to the other pawn, who will then pass it beneath them.
I never thought about Devil Bunny winning. Perhaps he wins if he kills everyone. He still won't get a ham, though.