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Subject: Oooh Them Scwany Wabbits rss

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Brian Robson
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[Note: This review was originally published as a Golden Oldie article in Counter magazine.]

Wabbit Wampage is a game which springs from the mullet infested waters that was the '80s gaming scene.* Admittedly I bought WW on a whim while browsing the shelves of the local Virgin Megastore (ah ... those halcyon days when gaming was considered "cool"), my attention being drawn by the chainsaw wielding wabbit on the box (okay, maybe gaming wasn't that cool after all).

Inside the box the components are somewhat less inspiring; a four piece jigsaw type board displaying farm buildings, fields, a duck pond and the highway, some cards and a stack of wargame style square cardboard counters representing everything from the players’ characters to vehicles and weapons.

WW is for 2 – 4 players, one player being the farmer and his two helpers, the others being pesky wabbits and a couple of kin bunny sidekicks, the aim being to score points by “whomping” other players. Each character has a defence, speed and attack attribute which govern the basic actions of move and attack. Characters are never killed, just temporarily maimed and dismembered. Being skinned by a chainsaw, barbequed by a blowtorch or even nuked simply sends you back home to start again. All the violence is completely gratuitous and this is part of the charm of the game. WW is effectively a board game of a Looney Tunes cartoon.

The game is played over four seasons, starting in spring with three turns per season. Additional (seasonal) points are gained by ploughing and planting carrots, (spring), harvesting carrots (summer) and defending/destroying buildings (winter).

A player’s turn consists of move then attack with each of their characters using any of the available vehicles (such as the tractor) and weapons (like the pitchfork) while playing as many cards as possible. It’s this card play that is the main driver and entertainment of the game. Although each player can hold only three cards a replacement is drawn each time a card is played. And a player can play as many cards as they can during their turn leading to some frantic changes of plan mid-whomp as a card is drawn which opens up options of further violence.

The cards come in many varieties. Defence cards, such as the mirror which reflects shotgun and cannon attacks back at the attacker; Local Critters such as the Big Chicken who can join a player’s side as an additional character; and, most importantly, Mail Order cards which can be played face down at the end of a character’s turn and arrive at the mail box on the character’s next turn (although beware the Mail Zap card which can blow up everything in the mail box space at any time).

One slight issue is that no-one ever wants to go the farmer as he is always the first to be picked on by the other players (leporidae louts), even though he is usually in last place because he has been previously picked on! Even the addition of three hunters during the autumn (the game calls it the fall but I thought I’d translate it into English) doesn’t quite restore the balance.

WW succeeds admirably in maintaining the Looney Tunes feeling throughout the length of the game. Although, for a game with such a light theme, WW can slow down during the winter when analysis paralysis tends to creep in as players attempt to maximise their score. It’s a real shame as WW benefits from being played at a frantic place to maintain that cartoon mood. Or perhaps we are just a group who take our games far too seriously (borne out by those in our group who meticulously plan their Finstere Flure manoeuvres – really).

WW spawned a sequel entitled Wabbits’ Wevenge where the wabbits were out to get the mayor of a town who had just opened a fur factory. WW2 was just more of the same and there’s little to differentiate between the two games.

Sadly WW has not stood the test of time terribly well. We played about 18 months ago and, although we enjoyed the nostalgia of the experience, clocking in at two hours the game was just too long for a dice rolling, card playing whomp-fest. Limiting play to two rounds per season or simply playing two player would certainly mitigate this issue but these are the only ways that WW is likely to see the light of day again. That said, I can’t see myself parting with my copy anytime in the near future because there’s still fun to be had in the old wascal yet.

* And no, I wasn’t the proud owner of the aforementioned hairstyle, the shape of my follicles meaning I was genetically predisposed to big hair akin to that sported by members of the Jackson 5.
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