Diving into the Discount Bin, looking for Diamonds.
I’m a sucker. I mean, I am a sucker for discounted games and, at the same time, I’ve been suckered into buying some bad games. I live on the outskirts of St. Louis, which puts me within roughly 45 minutes of the retail outlet of Miniature Market. Not only is it the home of the famous (infamous?) ding and dent section, where damaged games are given deeply discounted prices, but it also tends to have in-store sales of overstocked items.
When my wallet allows, I’ll make the trip to MM with a few things in mind that I definitely want to pick up…and I usually come back with a couple of extras. I usually try to keep my spur of the moment purchases to less than $25.00 per game. These are my dives into the world of what is “On The Cut.” Maybe you can be on the lookout for them, or simply look out for them, as the case may be.
Sons of Anarchy: Men of Mayhem
Sons of Anarchy was a cultural phenomenon here in the Midwest. I chalk it up to the fact that the modern American male midlife crisis is required to involve a Harley Davidson. I had watched a few seasons of the show but drifted away from it. Even so, I was surprised to see a Sons of Anarchy boardgame, especially one that wasn’t trivia based or a Monopoly reskin. The discounted $20.00 price tag, along with the Gale Force 9 logo, was enough for me to take the plunge.
To say I was pleasantly surprised would be a vast understatement. The gameplay is part worker (biker?) placement, part area control. But when you start explaining it, you suddenly turn into a bad infomercial spokesman. “But, wait! There’s more!” There is market manipulation based on supply and demand. There is resource management built around the recruiting of new members. It has varying degrees of combat: Do you want a simple knuckle dusting brawl or do you want to throw guns and deal with the heat that comes down with that? It has round modifiers that can be as simple as short term goals that earn you a reward or ones that will change the landscape of the rest of the game. When you draw too much attention from law enforcement, are you ready to send one of your members to Shawshank to take the fall? Truces, negotiations, alliances, betrayal: It’s all on the table and you can indulge in it or ignore it as you see fit. Still not “Gamey” enough for you? Switch to the included “High Octane” rules for asymmetrical powers for each Motorcycle Club.
You will find some “adult” themes in Men of Mayhem as it is about guns and “contraband” and the victory condition is about ending with the most cold, hard cash. It also happens to be one of my teenage daughter’s favorite games. She has no problem differentiating between fiction and reality. Besides, she could care less about the theme and has never watched the show; she just enjoys playing the game. On that note, I would literally be shocked if Gale Force 9 doesn’t use the gameplay found in SOA in a future release. While it fits the show and theme perfectly, I can see it being adapted to other IP’s.
If my verdict wasn’t clear enough: It was money well spent. My next trip to the game store, I picked up the Grim Bastards Club and Calaveras Club expansions. Yes, my $20.00 game became a $40.00 game but it allowed me to expand my player count to six and each expansion included some new, optional, rules to toy around with. I’ve actually seen some posts about Ollie’s (a discount store) having the base game packaged with the expansions for around the same price as I paid.
With the upcoming Mayans Motorcycle Club series coming to FX, we might see a resurgence of SOA fever. I did a quick check online before publishing this article and SOA:MOM is currently selling for 12.freaking.dollars. at Miniature Market (I picked mine up a few months ago). I’m not going to tell you to run and grab it but I will say that I’m tempted to buy some additional copies to gift to friends.