I recently received a batch of games from Immersion Games, a company I had heretofore knew little about. The first inkling I had of the company was when Tom Vasel, that prolific review of games from Korea, had written a positively glowing review of Alien Invasion USA, one of the titles released by Immersion Games. So, I was very happy to receive the three games they have produced so far.
After reading the rules to both Alien Invasion USA and Camp Wanagi, I was immediately struck that the themes of these games mirrored that of cheap Hollywood “B” movies. Alien Invasion is akin to the Invasion of the Body Snatchers movie, while Camp Wanagi is an obvious poke at the Friday the 13th slasher movies. Both games sounded like they would be fun and silly, on the order of a good “beer & pretzels” game.
I was hoping to get Alien Invasion USA to the table, but we had more gamers arrive early, so I opted for Camp Wanagi as it can play up to eight players.
If you have ever seen any of those teen-age slasher movies such as Friday the 13th, you’ll likely recognize the theme here. Ten teen-agers are attending summer camp in a remote location. These unlucky campers were not cognizant of the fact that the camp had been built near the site of an ancient Indian burial ground. The spirits of the disturbed Indians have possessed two of the campers, who will awaken shortly and go on a mindless, brutal and murderous rampage. The eight un-possessed campers flee screaming into the night and must make their way out of the wilderness before falling victim to their demented comrades. Let the horror begin …
First, let me mention that the components are quite good … not excellent, but not bad either. For the most part, this is not a desktop publishing production. The board is large and mounted, depicting a 11x11 grid that is mostly black. Pitch black. As it should be in order to set the atmosphere of eight panicked teens rushing blindly into the night.
The teens and butchering psychotics are represented by plastic oval tokens with stickers depicting the teens and killers applied to their faces. As in Magic Hill, 3D miniatures would have been nice, but probably cost prohibitive.
During the course of the game, mountains, cabins and lakes can appear unexpectedly (hey … it’s dark out there!) The mountains are really neat, hefty 3D plastic pieces that are greater than 2” in height. The cabins are actually Monopoly hotel pieces, but brown. The lakes are a disappointment, as they are nothing more than large square tiles depicting a blue blob that is supposed to be a lake.
The paper components of the game – cards and tiles – do appear to be the product of a home-based computer and printer. Still, they are functional and attractive, with the cards being produced in full color, but with a hauntingly black “nighttime” effect.
Players begin the game in the center cabin and suddenly realize that two of their companions (non-player characters) have inexplicably become psychotic killers. They flee screaming into the night, getting a 2-turn head-start on the psychos. After 2 initial rounds of laying tiles and moving, the regular turn cycle begins.
1) Player Movement. Players randomly turn over a tile and place it next to their character. The player then MUST move onto the newly placed tile. Tiles depict a path and must be placed, if at all possible, to continue the current path the character has taken. Tiles can depict various paths, including straight sections, turns, crossroads and even dead ends. Nothing worse than running in terror down a dark path, only to discover it abruptly ends. Is that the heavy breathing of Dudley the psycho behind you?
Instead of drawing a placing a tile, the player may attempt to “Blaze a Trail”. Basically, the player is opting to get off the main trail and plunge into the forbidding undergrowth. This is risky, as it involves a roll of the event die, which has a good chance of resulting in the summoning of one of the psychotics. I guess they can just hear you wildly thrashing about in the bushes.
Of course, players may always attempt to back-track by moving along a previously discovered path. In this case, the player simply moves his character without turning over any new tiles or rolling the event die.
2) Event Die. If the player moved onto a newly placed tile, he MUST roll the event die. The die will result in several possibilities:
a) A psychotic is summoned. Usually, this means the psycho depicted on the die (Jake, Dudley or both) move closer to that player. If the psycho depicted is currently off-board, he suddenly and inexplicably emerges from the bushes into the same space as the shocked camper. AIEEEE!
b) An event card is drawn. These can be good (the discovery of cabin or an abandoned car, etc.), to something nasty (the sudden appearance of a mountain or lake, which blocks all passage along that route) or downright horrifying (overbearing panic or clumsiness). Often, the cards can be used to put your opponents in mortal peril. Heh, heh, heh …
c) A “reserve” tile is drawn. This can be useful as it can give you an option of what tile to play on your turn, or allow you to place an unfavorable tile in front of one of your opponents. Nasty, nasty!
3) Psycho Movement. After all players have moved, one or both psychos will move based on the turn of a card. Their direction and distance is determined by the card. Psychos don’t need to use the pathways and can plunge head-long into the wilderness and undergrowth. Thus, they can suddenly appear in the middle of a path or even in the same space as a camper. Usually this is accompanied by loud shrieks of terror and often underwear soiling.
If a player finds himself occupying the same space as one of those ill-tempered psychos, a fight will ensue. Usually, a 12-sided die is rolled and the battle chart is consulted to determine the outcome. Sometimes, the roll can be modified if the player possesses a weapon, which may be found in cabins or abandoned vehicles. Basically, a low roll (1 – 5) results in a wound (or two wounds if tangling with the chainsaw-wielding Jake) to the player. Wound are marked by tiny little red beads, representing blood. Three wounds and a player is knocked unconscious. It takes four full turns to regain consciousness and somehow heal all those horrible wounds. As frightening and powerful as those psychos may be, they just can’t seem to kill anyone.
If the player is fortunate and rolls high (11 or 12), he successfully stuns the psycho and he is removed from the board. However, he can once again make a sudden appearance whenever the event die calls for him. You just can’t kill ‘em.
If a player is wounded, he can head for a cabin and spend some time there healing. Plus, cabins are often sources of useful equipment (weapons, flashlights, etc.). However, the confused campers don’t know where the cabins are located and only random event cards will reveal their location.
The object is to somehow exit the board by blazing a trail through the wilderness and escaping the psychos. Before this can be done, however, players must find their “courage”. There are 16 “courage” chips located on the board, two of which match each player. Of course, these are face-down, so you don’t know exactly where or when you will find your courage. The task is to find one of your chips quickly so you can then attempt to make your escape. This is certainly solely dependent upon getting lucky (which is another aspect of teen slasher movies we won’t discuss!), as was the case in our game. Spouey found his courage chip on his very first attempt, while none of us managed to find ours before he successfully made it out of the wilderness. I’m sure this is unusual, but it is still troublesome – even in a beer & pretzels type game.
I must admit that I was pretty excited to play the game. Sure, it sounded fairly random, but it also sounded like fun. Being chased around the board by crazed killers, rushing to and fro attempting to find your courage and escape the wilderness sounded like a hoot. Unfortunately, I don’t think we got a good taste of the game. As mentioned, Spouey found his courage on the first try, while the rest of us just couldn’t locate ours. This allowed him to head straight (well, pretty much straight) for the edge of the board. It was only a matter of a few rolls before he succeeded in blazing a trail and exiting the board.
The game just didn’t last long enough for other interesting events to occur. Absolutely NO cabins appeared, so there was no equipment located during the game. Keith was smacked unconscious by a psycho and spent four full turns healing. Thus, he couldn’t do a thing. By the time he did recover, Spouey exited on that very turn to win the game.
I do want to play again and hope that someone won’t get as lucky as Spouey did in finding his courage on the first attempt. This will likely give the game more time to develop and should allow for a few more interesting things to occur. I hope so. Otherwise, this one will be a big disappointment.
Ratings: Michael 6, Darren 6, Greg 5.5, Keith 5.5, Spouey 5