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Subject: 7.5 out of 10. A good score because I'm a harsh marker! rss

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Ian K
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It's been almost 18 months since I last wrote a review for Board Game Geek. I used to enjoy posting my opinions but I found that whenever I posted a negative or even just slightly mediocre review of a popular game, I would get attacked. And surprisingly enough, I didn't find this fun. So in the end, I gave it up as it was detracting from my enjoyment of gaming and of this site in particular. But I do miss the good parts of it so I thought I'd try one last time and see if I can get back in to the groove.
I just have to be careful when it comes to posting less than glowing reviews of popular games.
Fortunately, that isn't going to be a problem this time!

Synopsis
Apocalypse Chaos is a co-operative game for up to four people. The premise is that you are a group of hard-bitten space veterans ready to kick some arse against a sinister and ugly alien force.
Maybe it's not the most original of settings but then again it doesn't have to be as this is not a game you play for the story or even the atmosphere; it's a game you play for exercising the mind.

Gameplay

Each character has five custom dice with various symbols denoting things like Melee, Shields and Special Ability. At the start of each round, you roll your five dice and then allocate them to your character to see what they can do this turn. So far, so simple, yes?
Except …
One of the symbols is a Wild Card. If you roll two of the same symbol you can swap them for any one other symbol. You can even borrow and lend dice with other characters. Suddenly it's not a case of “I am going to be able to move three times then shoot for 2 damage”; now it's a case of “If I swap two of these three movement results for a another range, I can move away one space and shoot for 3 damage”. Or even “I can move twice, lend you my other movement dice, you can lend me your two shields dice and I can turn my two range dice in to a Special Ability result – so with a roll of 3 move and 2 range, I am moving twice, defending for two and activating my special ability, oh and you can move one when previously you couldn't move at all”.
Sound complicated?
Exactly.
Hence why I describe it as an exercise for the mind.
In a four player game you have 20 dice being rolled and working out who is going to use which results to do what takes up most of the gameplay. I personally found this a fun mechanic but then I have always liked puzzles and jigsaws and quizzes; finding what I thought was the best possible solution each round was, I found, rather satisfying.
Once all dice have been allocated, the characters and the enemies all act together in initiative order. Let's hope you've taken in to account that the enemy you were aiming at is going to move before you get to shoot …
As for the enemies themselves, they are all controlled by symbols on their card to move them around the table, attack and sometimes take special actions. For example, one of the enemies could have a little gun icon followed by the number 3, a little arrow pointing right and then a fist followed by the number 2. It doesn't take the rule book to explain that this means the enemy shoots for 3 damage, moves right once and then punches for 2 damage! Some of the enemies are more complicated than that and do require the rulebook to be kept handy but none of them are so complicated that you will be left wondering what they're supposed to be doing.
As for what you're supposed to be aiming for with all this dice rolling and enemy moving, that depends on the scenario you are playing. The introductory game in the rulebook is a basic Survival mode where you have to kill all the enemies before they kill you but then at the back of the rule book there are seven scenarios with different aims and goals each time to try and keep the game interesting. In the four games I've played so far, we struggled through the introductory game, strolled through the first two scenarios, and got beaten up pretty badly in scenario 3! But we will be returning to try again.

Presentation
My main concern with a game's presentation is does it get in the way of the game? The pictures don't have to all look like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel just as long as the cards and rule book are all hassle free.
While the cards and all fine, the same can't be said entirely for the rulebook. Particularly the issue of Line Of Sight which is hardly addressed at all in the rulebook so makes knowing who can shoot at what a little tricky to fathom out. In the end we just went with straight lines of North-South and East-West, no corner shots allowed. From what I've seen on these forums, that appears to be correct but it was more a result of 20 years gaming experience than thanks to the rules.
But I am making a mountain out of a mole-hill. On the whole, the presentation for this game is fine.

Summary
Despite the name of Apocalypse Chaos, this is a slower and more thoughtful game than you might expect. We took our time figuring out the best use of dice each turn and found that this was a far more interesting and satisfying gaming experience than a simple tabletop monster mash.
While luck, of course, comes in to any game that uses dice, you're going to need your brain for this one too.

7.5 out of 10. Will definitely be played many times and I'll take it with me next time I visit other gaming groups I know, too!




Note: I have learned from bitter experience with this site that I need to stress that all reviews – including this one – are entirely matters of opinion. I am not claiming that anything I have said in this review is fact, it is all entirely my opinion and I am sure that many others have different opinions. If you wish to reply with yours, I welcome it. I enjoy discussion but will not respond kindly to aggressive replies.
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Reed Dawley
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Delmar
New York
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I wish I could play more games.
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Collecting games is not playing games.
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I hereby declare an attack for creating a well written review! Load the trebuchet!

I've heard of the game but this review is going to make me take a second look as it sounds interesting. Well done!
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Aaron White
Australia
Bathurst
New South Wales
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Bennett from Brawl
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IMCarnochan wrote:
I hereby declare an attack for creating a well written review! Load the trebuchet!

I've heard of the game but this review is going to make me take a second look as it sounds interesting. Well done!

I am enjoying it a lot, it really is very thinky but in a good way. When you work out what to do and it goes to plan it is fantastic. But when you miss something after you press play watching it all go wrong can be equally entertaining.

Hard to understand rule book, but the game designer is super proactive so no problems there. Presentation is amazing. Little story elements, but I am a Dark Souls fan so I love drawing my own conclusions about what is going on.
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Dean
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Personally I like negative reviews, they at least show some form of objectivity most of the time.

You can almost always tell negative reviews in the forums from positive ones without even reading them.
Good reviews of popular games have lots of thumbs and few pages, bad reviews have few thumbs and LOTS of pages of just obvious fawning and endless renditions of the familiar refrains;
"You're not playing it right"
"You don't understand the designers vision"
Blah, blah blah.

Reviewers- If you didn't like something, tell us why. Games are expensive and an informed, negative review is just as valid as a positive one.
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X Topher
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I agree, I prefer negative reviews. I tend to glean more information from them. I want a heads up on a games faults so I know if I can get past them when I finally get to play something I'm interested in.
Don't change your opinion for the sake of the masses! 10's are seemingly dished out by the ton and that disappoints me because I have yet to play a game I didn't find some fault with.

I like this particular game as well. I got it super cheap in a clearance sale, and after playing it, wondered why it wasn't more popular. One of my favorite co-ops/solo games, and quite difficult!
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Antonello Piemonte
Germany
munich
Bavaria
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ddw867 wrote:
Personally I like negative reviews, they at least show some form of objectivity most of the time.


same here. To the OP, thanks for this review, I have also just read your other (negative!) review of Onirim, and tough I believe I enjoy that game more than you do, I respect your well written arguments and appreciate the effort you put into it. Hope you'll write more negative review in the same vein, e.g. in a constructive, well argumented way.




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Jonathan Arnold
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Yeah, every time I see someone taking on this game, I always encourage them to read the forums, esp. about Line Of Sight. The designer is pretty active here and posts some really good clarifications, like the recent thread about flying enemies.

But it's a tremendous game and despite the rule ambiguities, I found it a blast to play solitaire.
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