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Cross Hares: Testing Ground
I found out about Cross Hares through Dice Towers Gen Con preview videos. I had a 15 hour ride to Gen Con and started to do some research into what I wanted to check out at Gen Con. After watching Tom Vassles video I did a bit more research on this fluffy little game that seemed to have some serious teeth to it. After watching the Kickstarter video and browsing the project I decided that I would check this game out.
Getting to the booth I was instantly impressed with the visual aspect of the game. You could tell Jesse Labbè put a lot of love into this game. The art on everything from the various cards, the boards (both game board and mouse pad material board are beautiful), to the character punch boards (my game was missing the base game character punch board).
For our first game my wife and 5 1/2 year old son were brand new to the rules so I gave them a quick 5 min overview and then we dove in. We each selected a hero, our starting zones, and we were rolling. As my son earned Items and Speciality markers I helped him choose where to place them as will as understand the uses of each choice.
Movement along the board is dictated by the movement die which has 1-5 as well as a Research Symbol on it. You move the amount you roll unless you roll the Research Symbol in which case you roll the Research die instead of moving and do what you roll on that die which could be one of the following Item, Specialty, Event, or Adventure. If you get an Item or Specialty you add that marker to your Character board. If you roll an Event you flip the event card at the top of the playing board and if you roll and Adventure you go the the Adventure of the territory you are in (10 different Adventures).
The board has different Zones that you move on and are clearly marked. There is also a very cool Legend on the left side of the board that explains what each zone is. As you travel you will draw cards that will help you (Strong Hold cards) as well as cards that can harm you (Testing Ground cards). Both types are beautifully illustrated and help to further immerse you into the game. (I won't spoil what each card is as that is part of the fun. Just one word of warning watch out for those zombie bunnies).
My son picked up the game rather quickly and was keeping us on track as to which die we should be rolling at different times. My very non gamer wife smiled the entire game and had a great time. We all cheered when my son rolled his first Adventure and my wife won it. It was very exciting. The Adventure cards add a nice element to the game and make the game play different as you never know when you will have one (we ended up only playing one Adventure during our game and we said we would not read the others till we rolled it).
The end of the game can be full of surprises and no game will end the same. It will all depend on which character reached the end first and what they decide to do. They can battle the Factory or for the brave adventures roll on the Alternate Ending card. This card is very intense and has several ways you can win or loose. Our ending was pure AWESOME as my son rolled the result where he won but was vaporized in the process (this took a minute to wrap his head around, but he cracked up after he got it).
Character cards in the game are spectacular. Jesse went all out on each character. Each one seems to have a very unique feel to it and game play from one to the next is different. I am not sure I can lock down a favorite at this point as they are all really cool.
Thoughts over all I would have to say the game was very fun. It is built as a simple trail based game with extra meat added to it that feels part of the game without clogging up the simplicity of it. To me it feels like some of the games of my childhood (late 70's- early 80's) but not dated, more of an updated classic that the entire family will enjoy.
Thanks for the kind words and i'm glad your Wife and Child had fun playing and yes Jesse puts a lot into his characters
James (rob) Skeffington II
That was a really solid review, I am looking forward to finally playing this game when it comes out in October, hopefully fingers crossed