FEROX Review Hot

Dr. Mabuse     
 
0.0
6129   0

I still remember the feeling of renting my first horror movie as a teen from the local video store. With my heart pounding and adrenaline-fueled hands shaking I perused the sun stained cyan coloured boxes with fear and excitement. I clearly remember titles like Nightmare on Elm Street, Henry the Serial Killer and something called Cannibal Holocaust. The images on that box were frighteningly real, shocking and fascinating. It was too much to process as the time but I never forgot those images. Who knew that one day I would actually be able to take on the roles of those characters right in my very own living room?

Ferox is a two-player card game based on the cannibal exploitation films from the early 80’s. Set on an undisclosed equatorial island, one player will take on the role of a documentary Film Crew in search of cannibalistic Natives. When their plane crashes, they find themselves the targets of the blood thirsty Natives, in this case, the other player. The game ends when either the Crew player manages to get at least one survivor Crew Member to the Rescue Point or when the Natives player wipes out the entire Film Crew. 

The game is a straightforward, tight and asymmetrical affair that can be played in 60-90 minutes. On your turn you will either draw a card or play a card. If you’re the Film Crew player you can activate some or all of your Crew Member abilities by “Exposing” them. “Exposed” means your dudes can attack or be attacked.“Unexposed” means they cannot attack or be attacked.  

The bulk of the game is based around playing cards from your hand in order to take actions such as attacking, equipping an item, healing etc.

The Film Crew player has six Crew cards that feature a special ability, an attack value and a Health Point track for each character. The Natives player’s side consists of four different native groups, each with various numbers of cubes and dice depending on the tribe they represent. For instance the Red Natives (Moxweti) have nine cubes and one die with four chances out of six to score a hit whereas the Green Natives (Tukhua) have fifteen cubes and three die with two chances to hit, two chances to miss and two chances to flee.

The game has six Scenarios or rounds that the Film Crew needs to progress through to reach the Rescue Point. In order to advance to the next scenario both players will take a number of turns until either the Film Crew has killed x number of Natives (represented by skulls) on each scenario card or there are no more Exposed Natives.

In order to play a card from your hand, a player must pay the cost with Rage, the game’s currency. Represented in the game by a pool of eleven cubes, once Rage is spent it goes directly and immediately to the other player. There are three kinds of cards that can be played: Action, Items and Response. A Response card can only be played on an opponent’s turn to negate an Action card played. As the Active player has to spend their Rage first, the opposing player can then turn around and use that Rage to pay for their Response card. This goes back and forth until the game winning condition is met.

 

Well shit, let’s get right to it then. I really love this game. This is a smash mouth, visceral, and tense experience. It reaffirms my belief that as gamers, we are living in an amazing time, where games like these are not only made but are also executed phenomenally well. This game hits some of the elements that I love in gaming: a strong theme and setting, excellent narrative moments and a unique, underutilized subject matter. It is also gory, profane and hilarious. The graphic design and overall aesthetic in the game is top notch and creates an immersive atmosphere. From the rule book to the cards, you can tell the designers know this particular horror genre inside and out. Each card is very cleanly laid out, easy to parse at a quick glance and although some of the illustrations are hit and miss on execution they work perfectly to add to its B-movie, Exploitation film setting. How strongly are the Action cards tied to the theme, setting and narrative? Not one line of flavour text appears on a card. The card itself creates the story. For instance, playing the “Thrill of the Kill” card, which says ”1 crew member attacks. If they roll any kills, they may attack a second time...”  the accompanying illustration depicts a Crew Member ecstatically bathing in a shower of blood. Perfect.

The game comes with a large deck of over 100 cards which is about 50 cards for each side. Aside from standard attack cards the deck are mostly comprised of unique cards. At the end of a scenario both sides discard their cards in hand, any item cards they’ve played and Unexpose all their dudes. They will then draw two cards from their own Draft deck, pick one and remove the other one from the game, repeating this in order to make up their two-card hand for the next scenario. This makes the drafting portion pleasantly tough as the cards you draw are all REALLY good and the thought of throwing one away is agonizing.

There are 10 “starter” cards that are recommended to create your Draw deck (represented with stars in the lower right hand corner), but as players become more familiar with the game they are encouraged to create their own 10 card deck from the large Draft deck. There are also special event Scenario cards that can be used by swapping out some or all of the regular Scenario cards. These two elements will give the game added replayability and considerably extend the life of the game.

I really dig the Rage currency system, which creates a dynamic ebb and flow of actions between the players. Trying to use cards without giving the other player a lot of Rage becomes a part of the strategic decision making process. That being said the designer created a couple of simple but effective rules to prevent one player from monopolizing all the Rage and grinding the game to a halt.

Although the Natives player has a crap-ton of dudes at his disposal, each Tribe comes with its own pluses and minuses. The Green Tribe has the most dudes and therefore the most dice of any Tribe but due to their peaceful disposition are more likely to flee the scene rather than attacking, whereas the Red Tribe has the fewest dudes, only roll one die but hit more often with no chance of fleeing. Each turn the Natives player has to decide how many of each tribe they want to expose. Too little and the scenario could end quickly but too many and they could lose a large number from one tribe, as hits are selected by the attacking player.

When attacking as the Film Crew, each character rolls a number of dice according to a card Action or their own Fight stat. The beauty of these dice is the one-in-six possibility of the Film Crew injuring themselves in the process of trying to kill the Natives. For each crossbones symbol rolled a character will lose 1 HP. This reminded me of the tackle dice used in Blood Bowl: Team Manager. True story: I was playing this with The Nephew when he decided to attack my Natives with his Drug Runner who was also equipped with an item called Kiddie Cocaine. The card allows a character to perform an attack without playing an Action card and by spending two Rage instead. He attacked rolling the Drug Runner’s three dice (according to his attack value) which resulted in his Drug Runner receiving two injuries and one miss. On the following turn, he attacked with the Drug Runner again but this time he suffered three injuries. Five injuries total, which were half of his HPs. Nancy Reagan was right about drugs all along.

This is a terrifically bloody game of attrition, as both sides will be in various worlds of hurt as the game reaches the end. The tide can turn quickly and what initially seems hopeless can shift in a heartbeat towards a pyrric victory.

The one negative comment I would have to make would be in regard to using cubes on the character card to denote his/her health level. As you will be moving the cards back and forth and/or sliding  item cards underneath them, there’s a good chance that the cube could slide around. If Craft Fair ever decides to do a second printing with upgraded components it would be cool to have health markers,  an HP dial or a thick character card with a sliding indicator along the side like Betrayal at House on the Hill.

Between the Emperors of Eternal Evil (Mushroom Eaters, Cave Evil, Psycho Raiders) and Craft Fair Games I’m in a wonderfully depraved gaming heaven. Their bounty of darkly humorous, genre inspiring and solid outliers are like gaming succubi; they keep me coming back for more.  

Go, grab a copy, adjust the tracking and when finished, remember: “Be Kind. Please Rewind.”

 

FEROX Review There Will Be Games
Log in to comment
Posted: 23 Feb 2016 07:47 by SuperflyTNT #223043
SuperflyTNT's Avatar
Perfect review. It's a really cool theme and a very slick design. It truly feels like a group of people slowly being whittled down by the natives.

As in the Let's Talk thread, my only bitch is that the card distribution is such that you can have shit luck and get very few attack cards, which markedly increases the playtime and decreases the enjoyment.

Other than that, it's bad ass.
Posted: 23 Feb 2016 07:59 by charlest #223045
charlest's Avatar
Great review. Itching to get this one back out.
Posted: 23 Feb 2016 08:02 by ryancraftfair #223046
ryancraftfair's Avatar
Thank you so much, Doc! And that glitchy VHS graphic you made is ridiculously badass.
Posted: 23 Feb 2016 09:43 by JonJacob #223057
OldHippy's Avatar
Great write up bud, I enjoyed the one play I had with you a great deal. I especially loved that Rage mechanic and the game felt pretty smooth all the way through. At one point it seemed to drag for a bit, but I bet if we played a few times not only would it speed up, but we'd probably find a small variant change that worked perfect for us. There's enough extra stuff in that box that you could easily tailor the game to your own desires.
Posted: 23 Feb 2016 11:50 by SuperflyTNT #223063
SuperflyTNT's Avatar
Today I Learned: The Natives' dice have different distributions of symbols. I never even bothered to look. LMAO
Posted: 23 Feb 2016 12:18 by charlest #223067
charlest's Avatar
SuperflyTNT wrote:
Today I Learned: The Natives' dice have different distributions of symbols. I never even bothered to look. LMAO

Heck yeah. Yellow is where it's at.
Posted: 23 Feb 2016 12:26 by ryancraftfair #223069
ryancraftfair's Avatar
SuperflyTNT wrote:
Today I Learned: The Natives' dice have different distributions of symbols. I never even bothered to look. LMAO

Yeah, the first thing on our list of Things to Fix for the next edition is including the dice odds on each Tribe's card. They're printed in the rulebook if you need to reference it, but they should definitely be on the cards.
Posted: 23 Feb 2016 12:31 by Dr. Mabuse #223070
Dr. Mabuse's Avatar
SuperflyTNT wrote:
Today I Learned: The Natives' dice have different distributions of symbols. I never even bothered to look. LMAO

The Green ones are fucking cowards when I use them but seemingly attack 75% of the time for The Nephew.
The rule book has a little write up for each Tribe which adds another layer of character and narrative to the game.
Posted: 23 Feb 2016 12:36 by Dr. Mabuse #223071
Dr. Mabuse's Avatar
ryancraftfair wrote:
SuperflyTNT wrote:
Today I Learned: The Natives' dice have different distributions of symbols. I never even bothered to look. LMAO

Yeah, the first thing on our list of Things to Fix for the next edition is including the dice odds on each Tribe's card. They're printed in the rulebook if you need to reference it, but they should definitely be on the cards.
I'm a fan of the great stellar philosopher who said, "Never Tell Me the Odds", but I can see some gamers needing that.
Posted: 26 Feb 2016 15:50 by Mantidman #223386
Mantidman's Avatar
My copy arrived today!
Looking forward to getting it on the table.
Posted: 27 Feb 2016 06:01 by moofrank #223423
moofrank's Avatar
Mine turned up yesterday. Yep it is adorable. One thing I can't work out is why the native player shouldn't just commit all natives to each Encounter.
Posted: 27 Feb 2016 10:28 by Dr. Mabuse #223444
Dr. Mabuse's Avatar
My thought would be losing your big hitters early in the game could be a factor as the game went on as they would be the primary focus of attacks.

There are less heavy hitters compared to the lighter ones. That's my guess, I've never tried to throw them all out there.

Try it and let us know.
Posted: 29 Feb 2016 06:52 by charlest #223506
charlest's Avatar
moofrank wrote:
Mine turned up yesterday. Yep it is adorable. One thing I can't work out is why the native player shouldn't just commit all natives to each Encounter.

I would imagine losing all Red or Yellow would be terrible.

Also If you throw out just enough to be able to roll max dice with say Green or Blue, you incentivize your opponent attacking those colors so that your rolling is left efficient.
Posted: 01 Mar 2016 14:16 by SuperflyTNT #223582
SuperflyTNT's Avatar
I'm with Frank, after consideration. Putting all your peeps out has virtually no negative consequence, but creates a situation where you can always attack with your best guys.
Posted: 01 Mar 2016 14:45 by charlest #223583
charlest's Avatar
SuperflyTNT wrote:
I'm with Frank, after consideration. Putting all your peeps out has virtually no negative consequence, but creates a situation where you can always attack with your best guys.

I think you're wrong, but I'm not positive and haven't played this game too much (just twice so far).

If you have all of your guys out I can fill up the first card/encounter with entirely Red. That's what my strategy would be.

By the end of the second card you'd be out of Red I think and maybe down a yellow or two. You'd be out of yellow a little over halfway through the game.

So now you have Green and Blue and any time you draft a card allowing three or more tribes to attack or influencing tribes with less than full dice etc. the strength of the card is greatly reduced.

I think you'd need to evaluate the situational strength of cards in relation to having lost all of your strongest color to properly make this evaluation. I think you'd find the cost could be severe.
Posted: 01 Mar 2016 15:28 by Dr. Mabuse #223588
Dr. Mabuse's Avatar
Yeah, having only to rely on the blues and greens for attacking means having to risk a higher chance of them fleeing.

The other thing to remember is that the Film Crew player, on the turn they finish the encounter, can continue to attack with any remaining characters even after the card has been filled. The Native player could lose a lot more on those extra attacks. That I've seen more than a couple of times.
Posted: 01 Mar 2016 15:29 by Dr. Mabuse #223589
Dr. Mabuse's Avatar
I'm seeing The Nephew in a couple days. I'll try this out to see what happens and report back.
Posted: 01 Mar 2016 18:33 by SuperflyTNT #223596
SuperflyTNT's Avatar
charlest wrote:
SuperflyTNT wrote:
I'm with Frank, after consideration. Putting all your peeps out has virtually no negative consequence, but creates a situation where you can always attack with your best guys.

I think you're wrong, but I'm not positive and haven't played this game too much (just twice so far).

If you have all of your guys out I can fill up the first card/encounter with entirely Red. That's what my strategy would be.

I could very well be wrong, to be sure. But...because the draft is random (mostly) you may not get attack cards where I get "attack w/4 tribes", early. Which means I get more attacks.

Maybe it's the miniature gamer in me talking, but I think this game is basically like one. The guy with the most opportunities for effective attacks wins. So, maximizing the exposed Natives when you have attacks of "more than one tribe" means you get the most out of your activations.
By the end of the second card you'd be out of Red I think and maybe down a yellow or two. You'd be out of yellow a little over halfway through the game.
This is, again, dependent upon cards and who you have exposed, right? If you have a 1 attack and 3 attack person exposed as the Crew, you're limited to 4 dice at 50/50 hit chance. So, it might not be that easy, depending on your initial draft.
I think you'd need to evaluate the situational strength of cards in relation to having lost all of your strongest color to properly make this evaluation. I think you'd find the cost could be severe.
I think the real question is "what attack cards did I draft" to make this decision, more than anything. Same goes with the Crew. If you get shit attack cards, you're fucked no matter what. That kind of goes back to my only real complaint of the game - there's simply too high a chance that you're not getting 4 attack cards in your hand until the 4th or 5th Encounter, and by that time, it's probably too late.

I'm going to see if I can get the wife to get "elevated" and play with me when the kids are in bed. Will report.
Posted: 02 Mar 2016 06:54 by charlest #223624
charlest's Avatar
SuperflyTNT wrote:
This is, again, dependent upon cards and who you have exposed, right? If you have a 1 attack and 3 attack person exposed as the Crew, you're limited to 4 dice at 50/50 hit chance. So, it might not be that easy, depending on your initial draft.

No, I don't think it is. The encounter will end from the film crew killing enough natives. It doesn't matter how well they attack, that just effects how long it takes to do so.

So 100%, I will fill the first card with Red. And as the Doc said, there's a solid chance you put down extra cubes than the number of spaces required. This happened to me a few times in my plays (1 or 2 extra cubes).

It's an interesting idea though and I'm going to try it too next time I play. Maybe I'll solo it.