What better way to get into the spirit of Halloween, as a gamer, than to get some friends together huddled in a darkened room and play some horror boardgames.
Psycho Raiders (2014) by The Eternal Emperors of Evil
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Wicker Man, Rosemary’s Baby, Eden Lake and other films of this ilk have clearly left their indelible terror-inducing hands (and maws) all over the making of Psycho Raiders. In it, one player takes on the roles of the title characters and the other player (or players) is/are the hapless Campers caught in the middle of nowhere, in a van with a flat tire. The Campers win if at least one of them can make their way to the top of the map… while running through darkened dense woods…and a tiny town with questionable locals…. while also being hunted down by the Raiders. The Psycho Raider player is simply tasked with killing every last one of the Campers in horribly delightful ways.
This is a super fun and brutally violent magazine game (that’s right it comes in its own magazine) with pretty good components,(you do have to photocopy the character stat sheets, but whatever) and a light wargaming sensibility. The aesthetics are bang on in terms of the look and feel of the overall package. Not surprising really when one considers the game’s design team at Eternal Emperors of Evil has already established themselves with their now sold out 2nd edition of the magnificent Black Metal Necromancing game: Cave Evil. The stark colour palette of red, black and orange really suits this game and its dark, ominous setting. The comic in the magazine sets up the story and you as the players finish it off.
The gameplay is asymmetrical as the Raiders come armed to the teeth right out the gate with a butcher’s delight of assorted blades, a pyromaniac’s wet dream in a deadly flame thrower while sporting a sadist’s fervour. The Campers on the other hand start with very little and will need to search the woods, buildings or even try to kill a Raider (HAHAHA good luck with that) in order to take his weapons in a bid to stay alive. The Campers do have a couple of cool defensive actions they can take in order to stave off death. The first is the ability to “Hide”, which I really dig, this mechanic instantly reminded me of the hidden counters that were used in the old wargame Squad Leader. The way it works here is when a character is not in the line of sight of the Raiders, they can Hide by adding one hide token per turn (maximum of three tokens per character) on their current location and move those counters as a way to bluff where they really are on the map. A Raider has to land on that counter’s space and take a Search in order to reveal it. C’mon, that is fucking awesome. The other action Campers can perform is the ability to Scream, which they will use to try to alert nearby townsfolk. Successfully alerting townsfolk allow Campers to give actions to them, granting the Camper players instant access to buildings and special equipment they would otherwise have difficulty getting on their own. The flipside is that the Raider player knows which townsfolk the Campers can trust and which are Sinister and laying in wait to aid the Raiders. Also, by taking this action that character is no longer hidden and must discard any hidden tokens on the board. This adds a touch a wonderful sense of uncertainty in whether to alert the townsfolk at all.
Combat is pretty straightforward, as the attacker will roll a six-sided die and will add the weapon and/or the character’s strength to the result. The defender rolls defensive dice based on the same criteria as the attacker. The higher roll wins and the difference is the damage dealt. The loser must reduce their stats according to the number of hits taken which of course will make them weaker. If a Camper loses all points on her stat sheet as a result of combat, the Raider draws a Kill card deck and reveals at it, if a symbol on the card matches the symbol on the weapon the Camper dies a horrific death as pictured in gloriously graphic detail. If not the Camper regains the points lost on that attack thus surviving to see another minute…or two.
This game kicks ass and makes a perfect Halloween game to play with a group of friends. I skipped over the special abilities and random events but know that they also help to throw players deeper into this film... er game without too much overhead. I dig that EEE chose this to be a hex and counter game and added light wargame elements but on the whole is very much an Ameritrash game. It definitely doesn’t let up and with a playtime of between 15 minutes to an hour, it doesn’t overstay its welcome. My only gripe would be that the rules are a little muddy in places and needed a bit of tightening up, especially with a number of optional rules. I’ve never a fan of games that include a whole bunch of optional rules, I would prefer game designers to select the best "options" during playtesting and integrating as a part of the main rules, but that’s just my hang-up.
Get this game. Play this game. Rip someone’s face off using a hook and chain... in this game.
Purchase game here: http://summoning-of-evil.myshopify.com/products/psycho-raiders