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Subject: Badass Assassins! - A review after playtesting 2 versions rss

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Lawrence Low
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Okayyyy! So full disclosure, I've been involved in playtesting the early version 1.0, given 3 rules/mechanics feedbacks, which has been incorporated into version 2.0, and then playtested that as well.

The designer is a seasoned creator of games, having co-designed a game for Hasbro, etc. However this is his first solo project, hence the extensive playtesting with both experienced players & noobs.

Instead of a full rules rundown (available online) I'll go into my usual style of givng you the lowdown of my experience learning & playing the game, what I like, what I don't, and most importantly, who amongst you might like it too!

Version 1.0 playtest :

Now you may be forgiven for thinking killers are wayyyy cool characters; and look like Daniel Craig, Chow Yun Fatt, Clint Eastwood, Milla Jojovich, or Angelina Jolie.

This game may shatter some of your expectations - not only do they not all look glamorous, they don't always run around stylishly in slo-mo doing balletic gun play or somersaulting & simultaneously throwing shurikens or something. Oh, they spend a considerable amount of their time (when not hunting their lucky-draw prey) doing the necessary. Even hitmen gotta eat, shit & hit the sack! Pardon the less than genteel expression, but it sure does rhyme!

So, after we all got our secret targets, off we go to collect our working tools, not from Q, who has all the cool (Qool) gadgets, but we gotta collect em from a cache. These include very mundane weapons, all sorts of cameras (voyeuristic!) & some special cards.

Now typically you get 8 turns to do your job, ideally terminate 2 targets, plus all the unglamorous stuff like takeaways from Macs, checking into the Motel81, or relieving yourself in the back alley when nobody's watching (no prizes for catching you on video doing that!). I NEVER see Bond doing any of that! yuk

So, to get on with the story, I get my stuff, plant a few token items, and dutifully approach my target. Just a few steps away, he calls me out! OOPS! shake You gotta be discreet too. An it's gonna be hard if you're the only fella getting anywhere near your target!

Okay, live & learn. Luckily I can reincarnate like Cylons. devil Next try - now my target's changed, and oh, she's like, in LA & I'm like, in NY! Soooo, if I take the red-eye there pronto, it's too obvious! Learned that the last time! So I thumb rides cross-country like good ol Jack Reacher. And things were going nicely too, until one dark night some unchivalrous b***** dropped a flowerpot on my pretty head! Flowers are pretty, but flowerpots are not! Now mind you, such an inglorious end has happened to far greater folks in history! I do know my history - for example, the great warrior king Pyrrhus of Epirus, met his end in similar fashion, after surviving 3 great battles against the legions of Rome! He whose name entered the lexicon in the expression "a Pyrrhic victory".


Version 2.0 playtest :


Couple weeks later, map cleaned up, bloodstains hosed off, rules improved, headache aspirined. Time for some payback. Or so it seemed!

First round target, oh kinda simple. BUT, I had also narrowed down my hunters to just 3 suspicious people. Not bad! BUT, my spider senses tingled right away - I was being stalked right from the get-go! I wanted to go get my stuff from the common cache, but he was well within reach, so I ducked into the Macs & kept an eye on him. Meanwhile, people were being picked off at a right brisk pace! Including our illustrious host the game designer's character! Humph! Spent most of the time doing the necessary & giving my hunter the slip. Before I reached my target, 3 kills were made & twas time for new targets! Grrrrr angry

So, on to the next, second & last chance! The employers are NOT gonna be pleased! Starting to feel more Johnny English than Bond! So again we go... but now ALL the goodies from the caches were gone, I was severely handicapped by a lack of cool spy gadgets & weapons! My rather innocent looking target was wandering around the board, looking for all the world like she was window shopping, while planting gazillions of stuff everywhere, and kept staying away from the killzones. Spent 3 entire turns just zigzagging close. It was late in the game, and 1 more clue would just about give up all the identities... so, I had to take a gamble! Didn't have a Glock or a garotte or even a tiny little penknife. Only a remote controlled bomb. And took me just about all my movement to close the gap. And wily little vixen, she had planted something, again! All or nothing, once more into the breach! I pushed the detonator... and happy ending? Not exactly. As it appears we were mutual targets, and she was also targeting me, just like that cliched endgame in Wanted, BUT, what a comical ending! We could only glare malevolently at each other, as neither did she have weapons! She only had a camera, with which I got caught red-handed, except that I had to get clear before detonation, so... another botched job. soblue


I think I had better apply for that job at McDonalds! It is much too exasperating, this assassination business! A real Hitman Horrorday!







So, what do I think of the game?


Well if you've played Mr Jack, or its chromed up descendent Fury of Dracula, you know what deduction games are about. And then add the unique characters (each with a little special ability), unique targets, plus several other ways to score points, and you get a more complex, yet more challenging game. Plus, you have a narrow window of opportunity which eventually narrows down to nothing, as the clues get more & more explicit. Plus all those hilarious visits to the fast food joint, the crapper, and the bed-&-breakfast... sure a lot to do! I know, there are a lot more subtle ways to gain points, such as baiting people to accuse you (call you out), catching others red handed (busybody!), etc etc. And there is some element of luck, in that you don't know what you will pick up at the cache sites, and you run the risk of being hit as you go for your hit. And you just can't execute your target anywhere. You have to make sure the pesky cop is away, it's not a public, well-lighted place, etc. But all that are details. By now you should have a pretty good idea what's it like. After a few rounds you will probably wise up to the tricks of the trade, unlike me! It is by far a lot more interactive than, say, oh... Agricola, or Terra Mystica. If you're sick to death of yet more bloodless games of planting & harvesting crops, or upgrading buildings & collecting all kinds of VPs, get ready for something VERY different! If you delight in testing your deductive skills & acting chops, give it a try!

Or as another far more famous man puts it :

β€œIt is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
― Theodore Roosevelt


P/S - And did I mention it takes up to 10 pax? Plus 10 cute lil assassin minis... How many games can do that, eh?
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Azure Xignus
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Very comprehensive review. I hope there is a point form to summarise. Haha.
 
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Lawrence Low
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EVERYTHING SHOULD BE MADE AS SIMPLE AS POSSIBLE, BUT NOT SIMPLER
β€” ALBERT EINSTEIN

PSLE spot question summary just for KS :

1) Thou shalt KILL, discreetly, if possible; ninja
2) Thou shalt PEE, regularly, for thy bladder's sake! whistle
3) Thou shalt pledge, promptly! meeple
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