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Subject: Thanks for letting me eat your arm - A green can reivew rss

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This review is based on the Kickstarter version, Green can.

What is this game?
The background is, war has broken out and the world is more or less destroyed. But you are a group of assorted critters who happened to be in a bomb shelter when it all went down and so you survived … so far. Your goal is to live long enough to wait until it is safe to go back outside and then repopulate the species. This is done through a series of cards, each with its own unique action. Most of the cards are hidden, and every action you takes uses precious energy so you have to choose between taking the time and energy to be careful and just going for it and taking a big risk.

Who is this game for?
Groups who are able to have fun in a lighter game, that is still competitive and not a party game. If your group is one that turns over tables and throws things across the room when they lose, this may not be for you. If you think its hilarious to make one of your friends lose even when it doesn’t benefit you in the slightest, then your group is like mine and you’ll have a lot of fun playing this one.

It says 1-6 players, how many should I really have?
While there is solo play, and you can have some fun playing a few hands solo (also a great way to learn the flow of the game) I wouldn’t recommend buying it ONLY to play solo. Go get yourself a dungeon crawler. But you really can play with any number of people. We even had a session where we bumped it up to 8 and it scaled well (there are 8 critters so you cant go above that). Though that game did last about an hour and a half. Ideally you probably want 4-6 people for the peak experience.

Is it easy to learn?
I thought it was extremely easy, though some other members of my group struggled a bit and didn’t really catch on to everything until the end of their first game. The reference cards, for some reason, each are a little different and have different specific conditions displayed on them instead of the generic symbols. This confused a lot of people. And after the explanation you really need to go through the first couple rounds of a game to “get” the flow and understand what choices you actually want to make out of all your options. My advice, keep your rules explanation brief and just start playing. This is one where you really can just learn by playing.

So its semi-co-op? What does that mean?
There are three modes (full co-op, semi-co-op, and last man standing) but the standard game is called semi-co-op. This means any number of people can win but what happens to anyone else doesn’t affect whether or not you win. How this plays out is really going to depend on your gaming group. If you get super serious, the most optimal path to victory is for everyone to fully cooperate in the semi-co-op game. But that doesn’t mean it’s the most fun way to play. My group has a great time lying to each other to get other people killed for a laugh even if it makes their chances of survival 1% less. And personally, I think that’s the most fun way to play. In full co-op mode that won’t work because if one player dies everyone loses. In last man standing, people aren’t going to trust you anyway. We haven’t tried that mode yet but my group wants to next time we play. Based on the fact we’re a bunch of jerks, it may even wind up being our standard mode.

Tell me more about the gameplay.
Every round, each player gets to take 1-3 actions. They must take at least one. Most actions do both something beneficial and harmful, so you are always trying to balance the two. You might increase your starvation to rid yourself of radiation for example and then leave yourself looking for a way to cure your starvation. When you take “damage” on an action, it Is usually in the form of a condition card being placed face down in front of you. At the end of your turn, one of those conditions is randomly selected to be flipped up. Three negative conditions and you’re dead. Not all conditions are negative, some will make nothing happen and others will cure existing face up conditions. So your goal on each and every turn is pretty much to either try not to take any additional damage, or to cure something you have already taken. At the end of each round, players each decide whether or not to go outside. Going outside when it is safe (you take 2 or fewer conditions) means you win. Early in the game, you cannot win. The benefit of going outside during those times is to get supply drops, which give you more items in your pocket to be able to be played on your next turn. Any item in the game that is not in your pocket is face down, because it is dark in this bomb shelter and the lights aren’t working. So having something in your pocket that you know what it does is a big advantage. Later in the game you can start to deduce whether or not it is going to be safe to go outside and win. In fact if you’re playing fully cooperatively (even if in the semi-co-op mode) everyone will know for certain when it is time to go out and win. With my friends, however, this is never certain because they will go to the extent of lying, and even losing themselves, if it means taking down ¾ of the group too just for the laugh it would bring. You really need to play the first couple rounds of a game to truly understand what moves it makes sense to be taking.

In summary, I think this game is a ton of fun. It may not ever be anyone’s #1 favorite, but we’ll be playing it often between other, heavier, games.
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