RAID & TRADE
The Third World War has come and gone, leaving very little but total destruction throughout the world in its wake. However, as all the TV shows have told us, pockets of people have survived and joined together to form new alliances and turn their ramshackle hovels once more into a united city.
The three of you (or is it 4 or maybe 5?) have survived the worst that has been thrown at you and together you found the “Golden City”, a town more than a city but it is surrounded by walls of gold and patrolled by citizens determined to keep it safe. This means that they only allow outsiders to enter if they have something good they can offer to the community (they gain the required number Skill points or Favour points) or, and this is the bizarre part, if the outsiders can fulfil three of the resource-Quests. Each of the Quests requires the player to gain a number of different resources, Tokens, Skill points, Incident cards. Once they have gained the resources they have to discard them in order to gain the Quest card. Apart from being part of the winning conditions each Quest card has a special effect that can thereafter be used once per Round. With little discussion needed we all thought that this was a very good idea.
To ensure that each game offers different obstacles, at least the same obstacle but in different situations, the board is a map made up of 9 x six-inch square, double-sided tiles; the only one that should be constant for each game is the central one which is the Black Market tile, and that is only a preferable rule, not a definitive one. For the first game there is a basic map setup that you are advised to use, but afterwards, once you are experienced with the mechanics and rules, then you can play again and again, randomly creating the network of roads and blockades. Each tile has decimated terrain, broken vehicles, destroyed buildings and roads; all that is necessary when creating a map to play on is that each board must be connected to another. As well as what is printed on the tiles there are counters that represent Green, Yellow and Red houses, and these are placed on certain marked spaces dependent on the number of players.
MAGE COMPANY have a great reputation for their components and with RAID & TRADE the heavy card for the boards and the counters, the detail on the miniatures and even the cloth bag that holds the resource tokens show that there has been no corner cutting on the quality.
This is a 90-120 minute game. Although the box suggests 90 minutes we have found that because of the options and that sometimes your pre-planned moves, which are most important, can be upset by the players before you. This means you have to rethink your actions on your turn. It is suggested that the Black Market Trader Tokens not be used unless you require to raise the game’s difficulty level. We totally agree with this and in fact suggest strongly that you do not use these tokens for your first game, possibly not even until your third game.
Setting up the board takes a little time depending on the number of players. As well as determining the position of each separate terrain tile you have to sort and distribute Raid cards, create a Quest card deck and fill the supplied drawstring bag with the Resource counters. Players take one of the excellent miniature figures to be their playing piece – another suggestion is that you paint these minis as they are well detailed and painted models look great and give the game more visual appeal.
Each player has a special character board that has a summary of the Player Actions as well as what the results of the die rolls determine. In the top left corner section of the Player Board is a dial that has two numbered sections Red (1-10), and Yellow (1-9) and a 0 on the dividing line. If the dial is in the Yellow it means you are respected by the City Council and if it is in the Red then you aren’t, and that’s bad! On the right edge of the Player Board is an all Green dial numbered 0-20. This is how players keep track of their available Action points. The third dial is on the bottom edge and is all Blue, numbered 0-20 and this represents the player’s Skill point total. This is not unique but it is a good way to keep the game table clear. All three of the dials turn easily but not that easy so they will flop and change accidentally unless you don’t handle the Board carefully.
The game plays quite fluently as you send your Survivor along the roads that are filled with broken debris, old and rusty vehicles and rubble etc, attempting to reach areas where there are available Houses (tiles) to Raid. Moving, crossing barricades, crossing over the joint-line between one tile and the next all cost Action points which you spend by rotating the Green dial. Moving into a new tile – even backtracking the next turn – introduces an Incident card to the area if there isn’t one there already. To gain the Incident card and use it’s resources you need to spend resources as illustrated on the card. It is a good idea to collect and use these cards regularly as you can hold up to 5, thus giving yourself more options each turn. Once used they are discarded, but don’t be afraid to use them as they aren’t hard to collect. They arrive randomly but if not collected they remain in play face-up.
The RAID of the title is as already mentioned, the searching or raiding of houses. A successful raid gives the player the House tile as a reward – house tiles are Green, Yellow and Red.
Each character has their own specific Combat die with a combination of symbols that are associated with Actions, these being defined in a list. Combat is usually quite simply an opposed die roll comparison coupled with the spending of Action points. A player who wins an attack against another player gets a choice of rewards – a Credit Disc or Resource Tokens.
Characters can better themselves by Crafting and Trading, however once again it has to be remembered that most crafted items are one-shot only and are discarded after use. Generally Action points and Resources are required to craft items but occasionally they can be crafted without any cost. All crafted items are available for use the turn in which they are created.
QUESTS can be completed by a player when they have collected the correct number of the required Resource Tokens, Incident cards or whatever, according to the Quest being claimed. Going for the win option of 3 Quests plus 20 APs has been the most popular in our games
TRADING is a little illogical in as much as if you are anywhere on the board except in the Outpost you are able to trade with other players on your turn, no matter where they are either (again as long as it isn’t the Outpost). In other words you don’t have to be next to another character to trade with it. Although this is, as I said, illogical, it is also a good thing because it means you don’t have to spend several game turns attempting to get next to the other player’s character, game turns you could utilise to better effect. You cannot trade Crafted items but you can trade items and resources at a cost of Action points to both parties.
Having played the game several times now, I must say that trading has been at a bare minimum, if at all, each game. Players seem to be happy Raiding and fighting. The previously mentioned Outpost is a safe haven where characters can go to enhance and improve with Favour.
The end of the game is quite difficult to reach, as although there are three possibilities each of them requires the player to have 20 Action Points plus either 20 Skill points, 3 Completed Quests or 10 Favour points. The Action point dial is reset to 15 each turn and throughout your turn you are generally spending rather than gaining APs.
Towards the end of the book there is a scenario; Escape the City, which is for 4 or 5 players. Adrenaline points, a means of eliminating a character from the game, are introduced in this scenario on the page before the game variants which include Wasteland tiles and changing the 3x3 grid style of the city to a non-conformed layout.
RAID & TRADE sets the players against each other and the environment in what could be the not so distant future. There is decimation, ruins and rubble, broken roads and empty buildings everywhere, the world is so depressing. Thankfully the game isn’t. It is bright (in the intellectual manner, not the colourful way) and effervescent, thoughtful yet not without enough action to inspire. It is a different take on the post apocalypse game, not always unique but always interesting. In our opinion it plays better with 3 or 4 players than with the full complement of 5 and it definitely requires players to be a minimum of age 12, though 14 plus is more like it.
Bonn - Forever loved!
It is not enough to win - everyone else must also lose
Thanks for the review!