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Subject: One Hit Kill review after a few games rss

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Stephen Kerr
United States
Madison
Wisconsin
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This is my first review, and I have only played a handful of games of One Hit Kill so far, but since no one else has posted anything yet, I thought I'd give some early impressions.

I'm a big fan of John August (creator of One Hit Kill) because of his Scriptnotes podcast, which is where I heard about his Kickstarter campaign for this game. (Sidebar: If you have any interest in Hollywood screenwriting, it's a primary resource and I'd recommend it 1000% over any screenwriting book.) Regardless of whether this game becomes a favorite or not I can credit him for kindling my interest in board games, as this Kickstarter got me looking into other games. So thanks for that John!

I've now played a few two player games and a few five player games (with the Death and Lore expansion). Our experiences have been mostly positive, with some drawbacks.

Positive:
The artwork is fantastic. Each of the Weapon cards looks great and my friends were laughing at a lot of them, and even eager to complete certain ones over others because they liked the art and flavor text so much. Even the component cards, which aren't as immediately flashy as the weapons, are carefully thought out, themed and beautifully illustrated. The graphic design is likewise top notch, with clear symbols making everything super easy to understand visually.

The ruleset is incredibly simple and easy to learn and teach. The "do one thing" mechanic is great, as it keeps the game moving pretty quickly. Some of the special cards will slow things down a little as a few allow players to search through the deck (or discard pile) for a single card they want to keep. Also picking up new weapons is a great way to change strategies if you're existing ones aren't working. Including the option to discard as many cards on any turn also keeps the strategies interesting.

Negative:
Limited options. Even with the ability to pick up new weapons to try and find something more in line with the cards in your hand, a lot of the requirements feel too similar. You can easily spend two or three turns picking up weapon cards only to find all of them require four-card runs in suits you don't have. They mix it up some with some weapons that require you to have numbers of any suit instead of just runs, but these are few and farther between, and still require at least one run of three cards to complete. I think if there was more variety to the requirements–for example if some cards were purely number based (e.g. two 7s, two 8s, three 9s) then it would give more options and alternatives. As it is now, you will end up searching for specific single cards a lot, and if your opponent has them or they got discarded, your weapon card is essentially worthless and you may not even know it. This was a larger problem in the five player game, though we did end up reshuffling the deck a few times making some of those cards more likely to come back out.

The overload card can be problematic too. While I understand the intention of limiting card hoarding, I've seen it ruin people's games already a few times, and it seriously discourages going after multiple weapons simultaneously, which means you're more likely to look for the weapon to match your cards than the cards to match your weapons. On one hand it can help people stay in the game if someone has a lot of cards in their hand and are only one away from victory, but if this happens to someone a lot, they're a lot less likely to want to play again afterwards.

The two player game avoided a lot of these issues as it felt more like a race to find the cards you need, as opposed to the larger game where it felt more like luck of the draw and effective use of special cards.

Speaking of the special cards, they feel a little unbalanced. Regex and History allow you to take one card from either the draw pile or the discard pile, while Natural Selection allows you to take up to 5 off the top of the draw pile. True, you don't know what cards you're getting, but we saw people using Natural Selection to string together a series of special moves, NS, followed by History, followed by Regex, etc. And while that's a viable strategy, it still seemed somewhat off balance for those players who never got their hands on one of the (only 2) NS cards. The Transmute card became super important in several of the games we played, especially the larger ones where it was less likely to find the card you needed, and I almost felt that there should have been more than only two of these in the game. The Chaos and Winnow cards feel slightly underpowered, though they are aimed at helping to control other players' hands, so they could be helpful in certain situations. But since each card you hold gets you closer to your hand limit, I found myself just discarding these ones to make space more than I used them.

Overall:
I realize I ended up writing a lot more in the negative column there, but I think that's just because I was trying to articulate the somewhat minor issues we were having. While there's a lot to like with One Hit Kill, I'm curious to see if other people are experiencing any of these issues as well. I enjoy it, and we'll probably keep trying this one occasionally, but so far it hasn't really won over my girlfriend and my other gamer friends seemed kind of so-so on it. Either way it's a quick and simple game to pull out in between bigger games and super easy to teach so it will definitely be in my rotation for the foreseeable future.

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Keith Moser
United States
Pennsylvania
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I got it and played a 3-person game twice with my wife and a gamer friend last weekend.

Agree with everything above. Cards are beautiful and the copy is funny and the themes among the component cards were clever enough to make me lay out all the cards in order to figure it all out!

We don't have the expansion and I felt the same way about the game feeling a little unbalanced. As I started to play, I likened the game to an old classic from my childhood, Phase 10, where each weapon is a different "phase" you are trying to build. But without the Transmute card or Regex (which I used once when the Draw pile only had 4 cards! D'oh!) it seemed mighty hard to get the cards you need.

I enjoyed it and don't regret supporting it on Kickstarter. I do regret I didn't give the extra $15 to get the expansion pack (since it doesn't seem to be sold separately...yet?) but I think it will be hard to roll into regular game nights given its slight unbalance. Fun to kill 20-30 minutes maybe though if we're ever waiting for more people to get here! :-)
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Rob Randolph
United States
manhattan beach
California
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I got this game and played it several times with my wife. We thought we were playing it incorrectly, because once we got past the art work, the game was unbelievably dull.
Draw a card, did you win? No? Go again. It's basically an expensive, pretty, go-fish.
Very sad I backed it.
 
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Rick Underwood
Australia
Joondalup
Western Australia
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We've been playing it with six players, we've not enjoyed it as much as some other games we can play in the 15-20 mins we get for lunch at work. We don't think it scales well for six players with the expansion. Too many people competing for the same cards, so it's not a 10-15 minute game with that many players, and we had to take the winnow card out as it was seriously making the game longer.

Glad we gave it a go, the artwork on the black cards is good, the backs of the cards are dull but serviceable, and the art on the white cards are meh.

We'll keep playing it a few more times though, some of us like it and it's a break from Exploding Kittens and The Resistance which is what we usually play.
 
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Stephen Kerr
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Madison
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Quick update to my review. I've played a few more times with groups of 3 and 4, integrated the most recent Overload rule update (keep the overload cards out of the game while you deal and place the initial field, then shuffle them back into the deck) and also tried the variant where the weapon cards are public, meaning no one gets private cards, but a weapon card you're aiming for may end up getting replaced.

I also realized in my earlier games, we weren't playing Winnow correctly as we didn't realize it triggers in the field.

I will say with these little tweaks and changes, the strategy of the game is starting to emerge more and more. I'm pleased that I gave it some more plays as, while still not a perfect game, I think there's more potential than I saw in our first few play throughs. I agree that the 6 player game is kind of a slog, and I think 3-4 players, with the expansion, is the sweet spot.

If you tried it once or twice and didn't get into it, I'd recommend looking at some of the updated/revised rules and maybe trying out some variants. The people I've introduced it to more recently were enjoying it more as well.
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Stu W
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Agreed that the public weapon cards makes the game more interesting.

We bought this for my niece and nephews who (at the time) were all under 10. They still like the game because its strategy is simple and the flavour of the artwork and copy is top notch.
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