Saturday, April 9, 2011

Toe-To-Toe Nukl'r Combat With The Rooskies- Making Prison Rape Seem Kinda O.K. By Comparison

So, I got pretty drunk last night, and while I am immune to hangovers, today has been a profoundly shitty exercise thus far. The 2-year old peed herself not once, but twice, and my lovely and talented wife placed the Comet on the fridge in such a precarious manner that when I closed its door after retrieving the cream for my lovely, Keurig-brewed coffee, the bloody cannister fell and dumped bleach-laden cleaner all over me, the table, and directly into my coffee. For a brief second, I thought about sucking that tainted coffee down and ending it all right there. But you, my dear reader, deserve better, so I am soldiering on.

Anyhow, when days like this occur, I find that it's the best time to shred something without quarter or reservation. This is not to say that I randomly pummel games with a verbal brachial stun simply because I'm in a bad mood, that's not it. I may be an asshole, but I'm fair, and to do so would go against my Bushido code in a variety of ways. I just know that on average, at least one time a month my day will be completely aborted from the moment I open my eyes, and I reserve shitty games for moments just like this one. So, without further delay, "Hajime!"

Todays contestant on 'The Game Fucking Sucks' is Toe-To-Toe Nukl'r Combat from Victory Point Games, which I got from a syndication partner site for review. It's a tongue in cheek spin on the old "Dr. Strangelove" line that bears its namesake, but instead of tongue in cheek, I felt like I was sitting and playing it with thumb up my ass. What an immeasurable pariah. This game has all the subpar component quality of a print-and-play that was hastily printed and cut by a pet chimpanzee that just snorted a couple of rails of Xanex, and the comparison is totally appropriate because after playing this the fourth time, just to be sure it really was this bad, I wanted to rip my own face and limbs off.

Now some of you know that I believe that solitaire board games completely defeat the purpose of boardgaming because there's no social aspect, but since this game is solely designed as such, I can't dock points from it. Unfortunately, I didn't have to, because it fails on its own merit, or rather lack thereof.

The concept is that you play a bomber crew flying over Mother Russia during the cold war, and your objective is to rain nuclear fire down upon the inhabitants of bases, silos, and other targets deemed worthy of the most powerful weapons known to mankind. You start with a set amount of defenses and ordnance and all you need to do is vaporize your targets with an atomic fireball, and not the cinnamon kind, and get the fuck out of Dodge. On paper (which it is) it may sound good, but in practice I've had a better time waxing my jacobs.

To begin the dismantling of this "product", let's talk about the components. The game comes in a plastic ziploc bag, and I'd argue that the bag itself is the most professionally produced portion of the presentation. Inside you'll find a strip of marginally round die-cut chits that have about 72 DPI print quality. The art is actually pretty good throughout and everything is easily recognizable, but the die cut job leaves much to be desired. Then it comes with what is likely the smallest D6 on the planet, with the pips being roughly the same size as the game's entertainment value. It's the same size as the ones that come with Star Wars Pocketmodels, if anyone knows that one, or about half the size of a green pea. 

Then there's the "board" which is nothing more than thin cardstock with a nice fold down the center, and its print quality is on par with the chits. It is split into to portions with a faux aircraft cockpit display to help keep track of things, and the upper section is the map itself, complete with four different play areas. To add to the veritable cornucopia of vastly underproduced parts, there's a stack of cards that are roughly half the size of a poker card. They, again, are printed on cardstock, have sharp corners, and have poor resolution as well, although I'd have to say that of all the included parts, these looked the best.

Finally, there's the rulebook that, while effective, reads like a stereo manual, and to top it all off, there's about twice the weight in advertisements packed in the bag than there is actual game material. I have to give it to Victory Point, though, they have an incredible sense of humor. One of these advertisements is a thesis on how to make a prototype, and the whole time I was playing the game I was thinking that it was precisely that: a prototype. The one thing that was missing from the sea of adverts in the bag was the one thing that should've been required, which was a pamphlet from a suicide prevention service.

To set up the game, if that's what this is supposed to be, you simply read Section 1.2 of the manual which refers to other numbered sections to describe what the stuff is, and you place the parts where you're asked to. You are allowed 60 megatons worth of bombs to lay waste upon the Evil Empire, which can be comprised of a variety of nukes from 10 megaton through 50 megatons. You can have up to four munitions on board, and each one has a multiplier that may affect your score later on down the line.

Once you've chosen a "mission", which is essentially one of the four paths on the map, you start the mission. You can change altitide, which changes the threat levels of enemy forces and allows them easier or more damaging strikes at you, and then you can move your little plane icon another space on the map. Certain spaces have little dashed lines surrounding them, indicating that you must expend a fuel unit to carry on the mission, and if you run out, your plane ditches. This is not really an instant loss, but it lowers your final score significantly.

Each space on the mission tracks were loaded with a mostly circular chit during setup, and when you land on each space, you flip it over to see what bad shit is about to befall your noble airmen. This is not to mention that there's already an icon printed on some spaces, and in those instances, you're doubly fucked. The good news is that the game is so incredibly bland that when you get destroyed, it's a liberating feeling because you can go do something more fun, like getting cockpunched.

I'd go into some of the other aspects of the game, but quite honestly, I've spent about ten times the amount of energy that this game deserves to have devoted to it. The long and short is that at the end, you look at your score and then refer to a chart to determine how awesome you are at playing this abysmal game. I played a total of five times, and it was because I don't shit lightly on people's work. It's unfair, and it's not cool. So, I had to be sure that I was righteous in doing this, and I am here to tell you that if you drop the $17.95 on this game, you have some serious mental issues. Forbidden Island is 100 times the game as this is, has 10,000 times better components, and is five bones cheaper.

Now to be honest, VPG does make some games with this shitty production value that are fun and really clever. Nemo's War is one of them. That being said, there's no way in the hottest part of hell that anyone should think that this is in any way a value. They price their games on par with larger companies, but their parts are completely fucked. It's as if they can't use Google to find Superior Print On Demand and get quality bits for about the same price. It is my understanding that VPG is an extension of an art school, and so it underscores the point that these people need to realize that the visual and tangible aspects of a product make a tremendous difference in the value of the product. While Nemo's War is something that I might be on the cusp of recommending to a hardcore solo gamer, this craptastic late-term abortion of a sort-of-game is absolutely not worth half of the price they ask for it.

Why This Is A Nuclear Blast:
- The art is actually pretty good, despite the shitty medium it was printed upon
- The concept is pretty funny and has some in-jokes for Strangelove afficianados
- The little D6 can be put in gerbil cages so that they can be a part of the gamer lifestyle
- In a pinch, you can use the bag to suffocate yourself for buying this
- The game components can be used as kindling to keep warm while playing a real game

Why I Wanted To Be Nuked After Just A Few Games:
- The components are so bad they should have come with a prescription for Valium
- The gameplay is so rote and boring that even Goldfish crackers weren't smiling back
- For $18.00 you can get Forbidden Island or any number of Small Box games

Don't buy this game. If you think about it, have yourself put on a 72 hour observation at the local psyche ward. This game is so incredibly shitty that I simply do not have any more words to use in order to express the abject horror I sumbitted myself to in order to choke down five plays. This is the anti-game, and the only game I've ever reviewed or played that rated a 0.5 rating. I thought Scooby Doo Gold Rush Game was the worst, but I've been corrected. This is, without reservation, the single worst game I have ever played, and I'd argue that this extends to previous lives or incarnations.

0.5/5 Stars

If you want to check out other games from Victory Point Games, head here, and remember that it is my honest assertion that this game is not at all representative of the FUN of all VPG games, just the component quality:

What, you ask, is a brachial stun? Think "Captain Kirk Chop", but that actually works. Check it out on YouTube, I'd bet there's someone out there dumb enough to let another person do it to them.


daveroswell said...

All Victory Point Games I have played have come with that microscopic die. To me, it is simply an insult anyone would think game players would play with that thing; it HAS to be a joke. Note: in the future, just print "dice not included" on future games and charge a couple bucks less.
Victory Point Games have been hit or miss with me. Circus Train is excellent thematically, while Loot and Scoot was just an exercise in dungeon crawling and simply boring. I'm looking forward to playing Nemo's War, and being a fan of 80s tennis and sports games, TC Tennis MIGHT be right up my alley.

=+=SuperflyTNT=+= said...

I thought Loot and Scoot wasn't bad, and Nemo's War is pretty neat.

Email me your address and I'll send you Nemo's War once I've played it a fourth time. It's the "rubber match" as once I really liked it, once it was MEH, and once I wasn't thrilled. The fourth play will be the one that decides how I'll review it.