Duration: +-60 minutes
Distributor: Czech Games Edition
Adrenaline – Board Game Review
First-person shooters evoke a rather specific feeling when in the midst of an intense battle. Your adrenaline levels will rise quite rapidly, your nerves will start to play games with you and there’s a certain amount of focus required to press on and get that well deserved kill. What if that rather joyous, but also intensely frustrating feeling, could be translated in the form of a board game? Well Czech Games Edition tries to tackle said situation with its release of Adrenaline, a three to five players board game, that has the same principles as an FPS game. We were quite eager to dive into this crazy ‘Deathmatch’.
- Game board (consists out of two double-sided pieces)
- Double-sided board for different modes
- 21 Weapons cards
- 36 Ammo tiles
- 1 Bot card
- 24 Powerup cards
- Starting player marker
- 5 Player boards
- 5 Figures
- 5 Action tiles
- 100 Damage tokens
- 45 Ammo cubes
- A huge amount of point tokens
The futuristic vibe of the game suits the setting quite well, and while the tokens, cards, and even the player markers all have an appealing style, it’s the player figurines that run this gun-packed show. The five diverse characters look, even in their monotone colors, detailed and very unique, with no two characters even remotely looking the same.
Truth be told, when first opening the box and reading through the rules, things may seem extremely excessive and difficult, while all in all things remain fairly simple once you understand the basics. After that, many variations are possible, but we’ll just handle the base game here, allowing those who are interested to explore the rules further. Nonetheless, the basic idea of the game is to rack in the most points by, you may have guessed it, by killing your fellow players, or at least dealing more than enough damage to them. After shaping your battlefield by puzzling together a two pieced game board, which can be flipped over, you’ll have some other tasks to perform. You’ll have to place ammo markers at the assigned spots, litter the outer sides of the board with weapon cards, place your own player markers and of course decide the player order.
To start the game, you’ll have to decide whoever goes first, and then that player will be allowed to draw two power-up cards, keep only one, and use the color of the other one as his spawning point. From here on out, he’ll be able to choose between three different actions, twice. The player will be allowed to move, move and grab, or shoot, and he can either do one two times, or just two different ones. As the game progresses, and you get damaged, new moves will be unlocked until your character is slain on the battlefield. The latter will grant a tactical advantage, as these moves are often ‘upgraded’ versions of your initial available skills.
Moving around is always done per square, thus an arrow equals one move, multiple arrows indicate how many squares your character can move before it runs out of steam. During your turns, you’ll have to decide to move out of sight, pick up ammo, or simply go for the kill, or at least damage your foe. You can always shoot at everyone that’s in the same room as you, and you can also shoot in bordering rooms if you’re on the square that has the door on it, as the game allows you to ‘peak around corners’ and shoot your enemies in the face. That being said, enemies in the bordering room, if they’re not on the square with the door of said room, will not be able to spot you and/or fire back during their next turn if they decide not to move.
Just like an actual FPS, you’ll have to find weapons on the map, which will cost a bit from your ammo stack, thus it’s either choosing to go for a cheap weapon early in the game, or grab ammo first, making sure you can aim for a pricier and heavier weapon. That being said, the game prevents people from hoarding too much, as you’ll only be able to store nine ammo cubes, with only three of each of the three colors. Reloading a weapon after firing will happen at the end of a turn, if you have enough ammo cubes in your possession. While some may find it limiting that the game prevents you from grabbing tons of ammo, it’s actually a great mechanic to keep things balanced.
Taking and dealing damage also is done in an interesting fashion, as your character normally dies after ten hits, after which points are given to those who contributed to the kill. The person who dealt first blood (the first hit) will get a point for his accomplishment, while after that the bulk of the points are distributed depending on who dealt the most damage. Said player will receive eight points, the next one six, and so on. If there’s a tie, the player who dished out damage first will have the advantage. Another original and appreciated mechanic was added to prevent players from always killing the same pawn, as after each kill, the maximum points cap is lowered, thus killing the same player over and over, will simply grant you less points. This again creates a rather perfect balance, as you’ll be aiming to kill different players, to get the most points, and thus hopefully win the game.
To aid you even further, there are also power-ups, which can teleport you, move other players and so on, granting another tactical advantage when needed. You’ll only be able to have three of these cards at any time in the game, thus plan accordingly.
The final scoring will happen when the fixed amount of rounds, a.k.a. kills have transpired. Beginning players are advised to stop the game after said scoring, other players can enter the frenzy mode, which allows one last killing spree, to perhaps tip the scales. If you’re tired of this format, you can also opts for other modes, such as domination or the turret mode, in which you either capture different rooms on the map, or turrets. These modes are advised for players who already have a few normal games under their belts.
Luck or Strategy?
Even though luck has a lot to do with your respawn point, the fact if other players are in your vicinity and which cards you’re able to pick up, this game has a proper strategic background, where planning, thinking ahead and of course, using the proper weapon at the right time will certainly reward your train of thoughts. For the most part a proper tactic will end up rewarding, but the game certainly has enough ‘luck factor’, like it would have if this game was an actual FPS title, which allows many players of different backgrounds to come together and play this game as equals. In some ways, the game could be comparable with a multiplayer round of chess, with weapons. Sometimes you’re able to press on, while other times your attempts are futile.
Adrenaline is one of those games you’d never expect to see in a board game-like environment and that’s what also makes this game a load of fun. Even those who don’t really enjoy FPS games on PC or consoles, will certainly enjoy trying to kill another player’s avatar when seeing their reaction face-to-face. While the game may feel a bit complex and daunting at first, the different modes make sure all the rules can properly sink in, before you try to play with the safety off. If you’re looking for an action packed title, that has a reasonable playtime, Adrenaline can certainly get you pumped up.