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Subject: Review of Neuroshima Hex! rss

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Martí Cabré

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Treading half way between abstract, theme and strategy game, Neuroshima Hex! steps a terrain few other games share. I bought it out of curiosity in my FLGS because I had read some good reviews on the Internet, I cracked it open and simply loved it. Though I managed to play few face to face games, when it appeared on the iPad I managed to play around forty games with different armies and never got tired of it. By the way, the iPad version is excellent.

Neuroshima Hex! is a free for all combat game where two, three or four different armies belonging to a post-apocalyptic world battle it out in a closed arena. The base game comes with four different armies but you can buy expansions that come with more armies, six or seven by now. Each army has a theme flavor based on the post-apocalyptic America role-playing game that was the origin of the boardgame, for example human mutants, robots, rests of the federal government, plant mutants, Dredd style avengers, Vegas thugs, etc. Each army will have one or two special units unique for them and then a bunch of units and structures which are more or less the same along all the armies but with different specifics and quantities for each one.

With this description it seems that what we have here is a kind of Ameritrash game that could be played with lead minis and some burned & destroyed backgrounds. But this is not the case. What's really peculiar and distinguishes Neuroshima Hex! from other games with this theme is that it must be played in an hexagonal grid as the mechanics of the game are closer to some abstract games than, for example, to Zombies! How? Each player's army is set in a pool and players take a hand of three units. Then players will take turns selecting a unit, placing it in the board and picking up a new unit for their hand. Also, usually units placed in the board will not move nor spin and they remain as placed until they are killed or the game ends. As you can understand, placement of the units is the key to this game and each unit can be placed (usually) in any free space on the board and in any of the six facings that hexagonal counters have.

Now, when the board is full or a player plays a War! counter, regular play pauses momentarily and a combat is solved. How? Each unit has an initiative factor, from 0 to 4 (some armies have others) and all units with a specific initiative shoot at the same time. Then, units can have short range power and/or long range power, with also different power levels. Units can also have shields and extra life. There are also nets that disrupt all the actions for a netted unit. All shooting is solved at the same time for each initiative value and all units hit are eliminated before solving the next initiative value. After initiative 0 is solved, the combat is over and usually the board is quite empty. :-)

As you can expect, combat is quite messy and a lot of care must be taken when placing units because faster units can kill your stronger but slower units, but some units can change facings and disrupt your strategy, or maybe a unit with a shield is placed in-between your shooter and its target... Many things can happen. Also, not all the army counters are units. There are also structures that modify the behaviour of some adjacent friendly or enemy units, depending on the structure facing... They can increase power, give extra life, allow some movement, and other weird effects. Nuclear heads, pushers, bouncing shields, shotguns, bribes, power multipliers... the combo possibilities in this game are so huge that when you happen to pick the ideal counter you'll have fun just picturing what you are going to play next.

The game ends when there's only one surviving army or all the counters have been exhausted. Each army has a special counter, the HQ, which must be protected at all costs because if your HQ is destroyed your army is eliminated. HQ also give special powers to adjacent units, depending on the army. If several armies are alive when all counters have been used, the player with the most intact HQ wins.

Neuroshima Hex! is a theme dripping game played on a very strict layout that opens a huge number of possible outcomes. Each move must be careful planned but as you don't know which counters you will draw next you have to be open on several strategies at the same time. With its geometric strategy impossible to match in a more realistic wargame, Neuroshima Hex! still gives you the right amount of immersion to disappear during less than an hour in a post-apocalyptic America.
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B. L.
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I think the war counters are actually battle tiles. It's cool to see the review written from a gamer whom I assume plays mostly war games.
 
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Martí Cabré

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Bryan L wrote:
I think the war counters are actually battle tiles. It's cool to see the game written from a gamer whom I assume plays mostly war games.


Yes, I mostly play wargames but usually only play them a few times as most of them take a long time to finish. While waiting for my turn I like to play faster games like this one.
 
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