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Subject: I'll be right back. - A review of Camp Grizzly rss

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Scott Sexton
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Did you watch Mystery Science Theater 3,000 religiously like I did in Highschool & College? Do you game with people who aren't total wet blankets? Did you grow up watching crappy slasher films from the 70's & 80's? If so, don't even read my review, just buy Camp Grizzly and be done with it.



Elevator Pitch - Imagine if Pixar Studios did a reboot of the first few Friday the 13th movies. This is the board game based on that movie.

Alternate Elevator Pitch - Take "A Touch of Evil", and re-skin it as a Friday the 13th game. Streamline the game just a tiny bit. Add a generous helping of Pixar style art and a wickedly dark sense of humor.

Either way, Camp Grizzly is a 70's/80's slasher film in a box. It is an unapologetically Ameritrash dice chucking, card flipping orgy of blood, guts, and belly laughs.

Be warned all ye who enter here. Camp Grizzly is an AMERITRASH game and one's ability to properly enjoy this game depends on the following:

1- You are not offended by the randomness caused by rolling dice in combat.

2- You are not offended by lucky/unlucky card draws.

3- You are able to appreciate the fun/silliness of bad slasher movies.

4- You aren't playing Camp Grizzly with some Melvin who wants to suck all the fun out of your game.

This last rule is very important. If you aren't willing to enjoy what this game has to offer, you aren't going to have any fun (and neither will anyone else at the table).

How does Camp Grizzly play?

Each turn you will move your character around the board trying to pick up supplies needed to escape while trying to avoid the AI driven killer. Players mostly cooperate to gather these supplies (you can leave stragglers behind). At the end of your turn you will usually draw a Cabin Card which drives the story's narrative forward. Sometimes these will be good things (finding a weapon). Sometimes these things will be bad (Otis Attack's you). Sometimes these things will be a mixed bag (finding kids you have to take care of). Sometimes these things will be interesting plot developments that offer a mixed bag of rewards and penalties depending on player choices or even die rolls.



What works well with Camp Grizzly?

1- The art is amazing. The art has a definite cartoony look that is consistent with the dark humor that the game exudes. I would venture to say that the art is probably the best individual element of the game and would probably be worthy of a high spot in the top 100 games based on art alone if such a thing was ever ranked. It is movie studio quality. Something you would expect to see in a highly polished storyboard for a movie. The art is simply amazing, enough said.



2- The humor is fantastic. There just aren't very many inherently funny games that rise to this level. From gags in the art work, to fluff text filled with hilarity, the dark sense of humor that permeates the game is very well done. The closest thing I think that comes to this level of funny is the humor baked into "The Networks" by Formal Ferret Games. I think Camp Grizzly favors well by comparison, simply because you don't go through the entire game's jokes in a single game (I think you maybe get through 1/3 of the base content in a typical game).



I'm going to take a quick detour to talk about why the humor in this game works. The real reason this is a funny game, is that it sets players up to be funny themselves. Not in that stupid Cards Against Humanity way (where the cards tell the jokes for you), but rather in a Mystery Science Theater 3,000 sort of way. MST3K is a show I loved watching in high school with my buddies because we would riff jokes at the movie along with Joel & Co.. And I'm pretty sure this is exactly what the designer had in mind when creating Camp Grizzly. Give the players a comedy sandbox and let them be funny.

Understanding how to enjoy Camp Grizzly is vitally important. Don't be afraid to enjoy yourself. Tell jokes. Role play your character. Don't take anything too seriously. Camp Grizzly isn't a party game, but I think it would fit in well at a party, or at a bar, or at any social gathering (among adults only). So be vigilant! Don't play this game with someone who is going to play with a stick up there rear. Don't play with somebody who cares only about winning. Don't play Camp Grizzly with that guy who only likes the crunchiest euro hotness. Keep this in mind and you'll be just fine (until you are murdered).



3- The "Finale" of every game is a great way to put a bow on every game and makes for a very satisfying story telling element in the game. Once you've gathered up the supplies you need to escape, you will rush to one of 4 locations on the board to start one of the 8 different "Finale"s that bring the game to an end (typically, there are exceptions). Think of this as the thrilling final showdown of a movie. Each finale is different from every other finale both in story content and in mechanics. Some endings are more interesting than others. Some are more/less challenging then others. No matter how things play out, the game always ends on a high note that is memorable and often quite satisfying.



4- Camp Grizzly is easy to teach. Ameritrash games usually aren't easy to teach. There are gobs of exceptions to every rule and often times there are missing or easily misunderstood rules in the manual. Camp Grizzly's rules aren't perfect, but they are very easy to teach. Turns have 3 phases to them that play out very quickly once players understand how the movement/action points system works (if you've played Eldritch Horror, its a piece of cake). The game's teacher can handle the accounting for Otis' turn and any odd cards that show up when drawn from the Cabin deck.

5- The game pacing is quick and very satisfying. No need to worry about AP here. Turns flow lightning quick for players of all skill levels.

6- The game is designed to have its difficulty adjusted. There are official variable set ups that adjust the game's difficulty and provide added variety to the game.

7- The Game has a ton of solid expansion content coming "soon". Several extra characters, cabin cards, finale's and a extra mechanism are all around the corner in the upcoming expansions. I happen to have a preview copy of the expansions and can safely say that the expansions will add a TON of fun extras to keep Camp Grizzly feeling fresh and interesting for years to come. Some expansion content offers pretty dramatic changes to the story and mechanisms in any given game. I like this especially, because it allows players to customize the type of game they want to play. I suspect that it is only a matter of time before somebody comes up with a "campaign I'm " system for Camp Grizzly that will allow players to slowly add expansion content over a series of campaign games. Another possibility would be to have counselors die off permanently in a sort of Legacy style campaign. With all the expansion content available, I could easily see myself enjoying a whole series of Camp Grizzly campaign games. The only expansion I'm a bit hesitant about is the "Jump the Shark" expansion, which has a few finale's that conflict with the theme more then I care for.

8- Camp Grizzly tells a coherent story. Many story telling games either tell disjointed stories (Tales of the Arabian Nights), scripted stories on rails (The Marcy Case), or weakly tied together stories (Above & Below, Eldritch Horror). Camp Grizzly hits a sweet spot for my taste in story gaming. The story does require some assistance from the players to weave it all together, but in the end it comes out as a pretty solid narrative experience. The Cabin Deck that slowly plays out in random fashion is your narrator and it does a wonderful job simulating the twists and turns of a slasher flick.

What are the criticism of Camp Grizzly?

1- Overly Simple? Camp Grizzly is not a brain burner. The "game" portion of the base game boils down to luck mitigation and moving around on the board in an effort to avoid Otis. Some thought is required, especially if you are trying to run for the finale, but this is not an overly thinky game. I don't find this to be a problem because the game is obviously wanting you to focus on enjoying the story and if players had to spend too much time focused on managing the game, it would get in the way of the fun storytelling. The expansions do add some extra mechanisms, including a few mind-blowingly awesome plot twists, which make for more of a game, but these are honestly icing on the cake. Honestly, I need more plays with the expansions to suss out what I'll keep as a part of my game and what I'll take out, but I'm inclined to say that I'll keep almost everything in my game unless I'm playing some sort of home brewed solo-legacy campaign.

2- Adult content. I'm not bothered by the adult content, but people should be aware of what is found in the game. Sex, drugs, bad music, violence, gore, more blood then a body can produce and at least one card with nudity. It is all completely consistent with the theme, which is to say extremely gratuitous.

3- Games can run short and long. As is the case in most Ameritrash games, I've found that some games can run faster or slower then they should, but this is the exception rather than the rule. I've seen some games where players had difficulty starting the finale because of where Otis was on the board. Players couldn't defeat Otis, but Otis couldn't kill off the players either (thanks to certain healing cards). This is a rare situation I think, but it did stretch the game out a bit more then it needed.

4- Randomness. Do I really need to say anything about this? Tons of dice rolls & card draws. I'm fine with this, others won't be.

5- The game box sucks. I thought Game Salute made crappy boxes. Camp Grizzly's is worse. Its super shallow and doesn't allow you room to do anything with your components except bag them. Sorry, plano boxes, and deck boxes won't fit.

6- Price and availability. You'll have to hunt this sucker down because its only available through the developer's website and the secondary market. The price is fair, but some folks will say its too high for a game with relatively few components and cheap/thin cardboard. The price you are paying is for the superb art and the better then average game board.

7- The card board is thin. The chits and standees all are made with the cheapest cardboard around. The game board itself though seems to be pretty nice, better then average in fact. I dig the heck out of the standees, but I'm worried they aren't going to survive any accidents. This is a shame because Camp Grizzly is a perfect game to take to a bar or coffee shop (if that is where your local game meet ups take place).



Conclusion - Camp Grizzly is an Ameritrash fueled slasher flick in a box. Much like Time Stories, you aren't playing this for the game play, you play this for the story/experience. If you have a good group of folks to play a game like this with, its a no brainier to buy this game. If you like the theme and enjoy playing solo games, this might be a good pick for you too (although, like Time Stories, this is best experienced with a group of friends). If you aren't into Ameritrash games, I have no clue why you are still reading this review because lets face it, Camp Grizzly isn't going to change your mind. The decidedly non-Dice Tower friendly theme and content of this game means it will likely never be a truly main stream game everybody knows about, but that just means that you'll be known as the cool-kid who owns that neat game nobody else in your group owns. Buy this game with confidence knowing you are getting a fun game that will only get better with the upcoming expansions.

Edit- Images courtesy of Bgg users MoonSylver and Daniel Thurot.
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Scott Ferrier
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I think you should elevate rule #4 to rule #1

I start out by letting people know the game isn't even remotely fair but it's awesome!
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Deranged
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Pictures! Why doesn't anybody ever add pictures anymore? You can't wax on about how absolutely friggin' fabulous the game looks and not add any pictures.

Quote:
4- You aren't playing Camp Grizzly with some Melvin who wants to suck all the fun out of your game.

This last rule is very important. If you aren't willing to enjoy what this game has to offer, you aren't going to have any fun (and neither will anyone else at the table).

Agreed; I suffered through a game of Junta with someone who just didn't want to see what the game was about. At all. It sucks .

Really? The "Jump the Shark" expansion has you worried? XD

This seems like a rework of Camp Wanagi, which was awesome but kinda badly executed. I'd like to try it . I love the premise, and although I did enjoy the dark theme of Wanagi (which aims to actually be scary rather then funny) it seems like I'd dig this game like a grave.
 
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Scott Sexton
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Derang3d wrote:
Pictures! Why doesn't anybody ever add pictures anymore? You can't wax on about how absolutely friggin' fabulous the game looks and not add any pictures.



Meh. It seems unnecessary when there are images linked to the Camp Grizzly BGG page. Also, I am a Luddite who still uses a phone that doesn't have an integrated camera. Lastly, I am lazy.
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Deranged
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scottatlaw wrote:
Derang3d wrote:
Pictures! Why doesn't anybody ever add pictures anymore? You can't wax on about how absolutely friggin' fabulous the game looks and not add any pictures.

Meh. It seems unnecessary when there are images linked to the Camp Grizzly BGG page. Also, I am a Luddite who still uses a phone that doesn't have an integrated camera. Lastly, I am lazy.

So? Extra work for me. You don't need to make your own photos, you can just pick'm from the bgg page.
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Scott Sexton
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Derang3d wrote:
scottatlaw wrote:
Derang3d wrote:
Pictures! Why doesn't anybody ever add pictures anymore? You can't wax on about how absolutely friggin' fabulous the game looks and not add any pictures.

Meh. It seems unnecessary when there are images linked to the Camp Grizzly BGG page. Also, I am a Luddite who still uses a phone that doesn't have an integrated camera. Lastly, I am lazy.

So? Extra work for me. You don't need to make your own photos, you can just pick'm from the bgg page.

Let me rephrase my last reply.

I am very lazy.
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Deranged
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Yeah okay, I can sympathise. The game seems awesome, in any case, I just wish it was easily available here in not-USA.
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Mir
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Derang3d wrote:
Yeah okay, I can sympathise. The game seems awesome, in any case, I just wish it was easily available here in not-USA.
I bought it online and it got shipped (international) on the 23rd. Still waiting for it. Starting to think it's gotten lost in shipping received it this morning! Can't wait to play
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