City of Horror - You Only Need To Outrun The Bear

City of Horror - You Only Need To Outrun The Bear Hot

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City of Horror

As part of my 10x10 Challenge, I am playing this epic game, and I don't think it will be that hard, because this is an awesome game.

About a year ago, I was with my BFF and his son-in-law, also a friend of mine, but not nearly as much so as my BFF. This kid was telling me how cool it was to hang out with us, and how we're like the Three Musketeers, or some such kiss-assy nonsense. I looked him in the eye and said, "Buddy, I like you just fine, but I'd throw you in front of a gunman if I thought your father in law was about to be shot." The look on his face was both priceless and pathetic in equal measure; it was definitely a teachable moment. City of Horror, from Repos Productions, is exactly like that exchange: You're going to have your people tossed to the zombie horde, head first, if it will help your opponents win, and it's worth double points if they manage to toss your pregnant woman into the awaiting arms of the ravenous filth.

To no small degree, City of Horrors reminds me a great deal of Survive! Escape From Atlantis, because it's basically a game about trying to take out the opponents' best people while retaining yours. However, unlike Survive!, this game is a medium weight design that has much less focus on simple movement and much more about controlling a majority of occupants of spaces. You see, during a round, items are airdropped for the survivors onto random spaces, and the person whose characters are more numerous on a space gets to choose who gets what. More importantly, when there's a zombie attack that isn't mitigated by players' card play, someone has to die, and the character who dies is chosen by the characters on the space where the attack happened; each character gets a vote, and therefore, the person with the most characters on a space will have more votes, most of the time.

Thanks to this voting mechanic, the game is far less about the movement of the characters as much as it is about the bribery, begging, and chicanery that surrounds zombie attacks and the handing out of items. You see, winning in City of Horror is more than just about not being voted to your death; to win, your surviving characters must  each have an antidote token to score, which are some of the aforementioned loot items airdropped to the characters. Each character has a value,  in points, and if they survive, their player scores the points.

Additionally, each character has a one-time use, unique ability they can use to change the game in their favor, but doing so lowers the value of the character by a value commensurate with the strength of the power the character has. An example is the aforementioned pregnant chick, whose ability to give birth, grants the character two votes for the balance of the game, but exponentially lowers her value. To be honest, I am positive that she was designed with a giant target on her back, because getting two votes is no joke. All of the powers make  sense thematically, which keeps you in a state of pseudo-roleplaying the entire time.

I'd say that the biggest strength of City of Horror is its ability to keep players engaged, involved and, dare I say, riveted on the action. Suffice it to say that if you wanted to know anything about a culture and motivations of the people within that culture, have a sociologist watch this game being played with five players. It's like a pack of wild dogs, waiting to see which in the pack is weakest, then devouring it in front of its puppies. It's a brutal, but  exceptionally well-designed and enjoyable game. Personally, it is one of my all-time favorites, and it has made Settlers of Catan pretty much obsolete for me with regard to games involving negotiation, although I'm not sure that it's better than Cosmic Encounter.

All  I know is that the art is  great, the bits  are great, and despite it having standies instead of a sea of wonderful plastic toys, it is an outstanding production all the way around. We all really enjoyed it, and ideally, we will continue to enjoy it. As long as you can handle a very rules-light game where the "game" is in the interactions more than the mechanics, you should really dig this very, very nasty game of sticking it to your neighbors hard and deep.

What Makes My Kind Of City:
- The game adheres to its theme of backstabbery incredibly well
- Tense, fast turns make this game both fast and furious
- The art and bits are outstanding; it even has a 3D water tower
- Rules light, but game-heavy is the best description

Why This Game Is Horrorble:
- The rules are clear, but some spots are easy to miss
- It may be a little to dark and grim for some people

Overall:
This is a remarkably fun game, filled with deal-making, double-dealing, and outright fuckery. If any of those things appeal to you and your group, then this is a game that should definitely be at your clubhouse. Its a fantastic game for four or five, but it's not so hot with three, to be fair. For the price, you're going to be hard-pressed to find a game that does those things better. Or at double the price, for that matter.

Rating:
4.625/5 Stars

Learn more about this tremendous game by reading its rules:
http://rprod.com/uploads/file/CITY_OF_HORROR_RULES_USA.pdf

City of Horror - You Only Need To Outrun The Bear There Will Be Games
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Posted: 01 Feb 2016 17:41 by Dr. Mabuse #221310
Dr. Mabuse's Avatar
I still dig Mall of Horror but I think I like the dynamics of the board and multiple characters a bit more. I'll have to try to track this down.
Posted: 01 Feb 2016 18:33 by JonJacob #221314
OldHippy's Avatar
Great review Pete, despite my fatigue with the genre you've made me very interested in this.
Posted: 02 Feb 2016 17:42 by repoman #221494
repoman's Avatar
Was the lesson in that teachable moment that "My father in law's friend is a douche"? Jesus, what a shitty think to say.

Otherwise, good review.
Posted: 03 Feb 2016 06:56 by SuperflyTNT #221528
SuperflyTNT's Avatar
You have to know the guy.

He has lived off of my buddy's generosity for 4 years, banging (and impregnating) his youngest daughter, not working, and just basically sitting in his room, making Vines, dreaming of being an internet star. I like the kid on a personal level, but my buddy's daughter is family to me, and he is just a worthless POS who tries to sidle up to everyone he can, playing the "good guy" while mooching as much as he can, and he had that coming. Homie don't play that shit.
Posted: 03 Feb 2016 07:01 by lala #221529
SuperFlySwatter's Avatar
speaking of outrunning bears, my wife spent a year in the USA, Kenston High School in Cleveland, Ohio. As a joke, she and her friend told all the kids in the class that back in sweden they had no TVs, lived in snow houses, travelled to school on sleds pulled by huskies and kept polar bear cubs at home until they were too dangerous and had to be released in the wild, and that everyone walked round with a hunting rifle in constant fear of having to run away from adult polar bears. This was because their school Project was to write about a foreign country. later, she got summoned to the principals office and got a bollocking because almost all the other Children had written about Sweden and had just described all that stupid shit they Heard as fact. True story. I guess it was the early 90s so no proper internet but still this was high school, like they were 17 or 18 years old.
Posted: 03 Feb 2016 08:18 by Unicron #221544
Unicron's Avatar
I enjoyed the review, but I had a very different experience with this game. The random draw of characters (some of which are useless) and negotiation mechanic felt very light on strategy. Also, some of the stands and that crappy water tower fell over a dozen times. The overall quality was lacking for my taste.
Posted: 03 Feb 2016 08:45 by Columbob #221550
Columbob's Avatar
lala wrote:
speaking of outrunning bears, my wife spent a year in the USA, Kenston High School in Cleveland, Ohio. As a joke, she and her friend told all the kids in the class that back in sweden they had no TVs, lived in snow houses, travelled to school on sleds pulled by huskies and kept polar bear cubs at home until they were too dangerous and had to be released in the wild, and that everyone walked round with a hunting rifle in constant fear of having to run away from adult polar bears. This was because their school Project was to write about a foreign country. later, she got summoned to the principals office and got a bollocking because almost all the other Children had written about Sweden and had just described all that stupid shit they Heard as fact. True story. I guess it was the early 90s so no proper internet but still this was high school, like they were 17 or 18 years old.

This isn't too far from the truth for people living in the North of Canada, Alaska too probably. One of my buds lived in Yellowknife for a few years, he'd drive the snowmobile to his office. I think there's like a single traffic light in town (20K population or thereabouts). He's a hunting/fishing nut so it was (cold) paradise for him. At parties, one of the Native delicacies was whale blubber.

Another guy at work took a year sabbatical last summer to follow his ex-girlfriend to Nunavut, only thing he's already back because they broke up. -30 degrees Celsius in September was pretty harsh. He got to taste another northern specialty - narwhal.
Posted: 03 Feb 2016 11:16 by lala #221573
SuperFlySwatter's Avatar
when i was a kid my mum used to play that record (Dee Shannon?) "I fought the law and the law won" and for many years I was utterly convinced (for a reason I cant quite fathom in retrospect) that the words were

I fought the law and the narwhal.

possibly imagining some kind of ocean based piratical tussle?
Posted: 03 Feb 2016 12:02 by SuperflyTNT #221584
SuperflyTNT's Avatar
@Unicron:

My tower was broken from day 1 (got it used in a GenCon math trade) but it still stand up and holds the people on it. That sucks that yours isn't decent :(

I don't think there's "useless" characters, to be honest. I've drawn all of them at one point or another, and while situationally they may not work well, the game is balanced such that the characters who are less practically used are worth the most points, and generally some of the last to be killed.

One of the coolest things in the game, I feel, is the fact that once you've used a character's power, they are used up for good, and then the character's only worth half the points. That's a big damned deal when the average value is like 4 and a decent final score is 10-15 points. It's shit like that which I love. It forces you to gamble, and it also gives you a bargaining chip "Hey, I could use this power to help you, but you need to give me your next 2 item draws." And, of course, they could agree to that and then fuck you solidly by not actually doing it.
Posted: 03 Feb 2016 12:03 by SuperflyTNT #221586
SuperflyTNT's Avatar
OH: One note: If you don't like standies or they're wonky (I didn't have that problem, but MAN did I not like the Dead of Winter stands), hot glue a penny or nickel to the bottom. I did that with my War of the Ring Nazgul and it totally made the game better.
Posted: 03 Feb 2016 12:04 by Ken B. #221587
Ken B.'s Avatar
Rare case of less is more--Mall of Horror was the better implementation of the two. The extra stuff, including the needing cures to score, just muddied up the quick, backstabbing action.
Posted: 03 Feb 2016 12:39 by Black Barney #221596
Black Barney's Avatar
...in a phonebooth.


kiss me, damn you
Posted: 03 Feb 2016 12:42 by Ken B. #221598
Ken B.'s Avatar
Black Barney wrote:
...in a phonebooth.


kiss me, damn you


SMOOCH!



...what's a "fuckass?"
Posted: 03 Feb 2016 13:41 by SuperflyTNT #221605
SuperflyTNT's Avatar
I actually think that this is better than Mall of Horror, but only by a hair. It's definitely simpler from a movement perspective. I like them both, and the only thing that would make them better is if it had a setting from War of the Worlds, with sinister, unstoppable aliens instead of the oft-hated zombies.

The zombies don't infect you, they kill you, and there's no "zombie" feel to the game, so why make it about zombies?