Retro Loonacy is a sophisticated game for those with a sophisticated taste. It’s also a family game. So grab an aqueous martini, a piece of licorice, and put on your sleekest coat while we slip into the super hip, and super fun game that is Retro Loonacy.
Designed by Andrew Looney and Illustrated by Andrew Heath Retro Loonacy is a fast paced matching game for 2-5 players. It is labelled as good for 8 years old and up, but I can tell you our 7 year old had no problems with it beyond some dexterity issues. The concept is quite simple. Everyone will have a hand of cards and try to match those card to the discard piles on the table.
There are two things I want to point out about how this works. First, each card has two images on it, so your chances are increased. Or are they? I’m not a statistician, but I did an internet search and found this, potentially(not at all), helpful video.
The second point I want to make is that the game has different set ups for the game depending on how many players you have. There is always one draw pile, but the number of discard piles related to players is as follows: 5 players-1 discard pile, 4 players-2 discard piles, 3 players-3 discard piles, 2 players-4 discard piles, 1 player-5 discard piles, 0 players… I may have gone too far…
Five Player Setup
Four Player Setup
Three Player Setup
Two Player Setup
“Wait,” I hear you saying, “Brandon, you have given us a lot of info, nice pictures, a very (not very) helpful video, but I still don’t feel like I know how to play.” Ah! You are correct. So, you know it is a matching game, and you know how to set it up, but what’s next? How many cards do you get? Who goes first? You each get 7 cards and you all go at once!!! Wait, not yet. Make sure you all have had a chance to look at your cards first and then, go!!
“Oh, man,” I can hear you remarking, “This game is moving so fast. Oh, I don’t have a match. You don’t have a match? None of us has a match? What do we do!?” Shh, it’s going to be OK. Look, there’s a draw pile. Everyone, take a card. Place it face down in front of you without looking. Make sure you are all ready and then go! The first person to play all the cards from their hand wins!
We here at Spaghetti & Meeples have covered various versions of Fluxx and Just Desserts and have enjoyed them. Retro Loonacy, however, is by far our new favorite from them. We all love the look, the style, the game play, the pace, and the player interaction. If you are a fan of Looney Labs then Retro Loonacy is a must have. If you have never played a Looney Labs game before then this is a great place to start. So get on it already!
You can purchase Retro Loonacy directly from Looney Labs here.
Update: The Kickstarter campaign has been pushed back a little. Visit this link to see what’s up and how you can help.
The copy I received of Kaiju Conquest was a prototype version that I had to send back. What is it like to play Kaiju Conquest? Well, we’ll get to that, but there’s a lot to unpack before we do. First, the premise: humans are going about their day not worrying about a thing and have bits of military industrial complex spread around as the United Nations Reaction Force(UNRF) and then the pesky Sazzarran (Kaiju) start showing up wanting to kill everyone. You can play with 2 or 4 players. That is simple enough, but let’s take a look at what’s in the box!.
Whoa, buddy! Like I said, a lot to unpack. Literally and figuratively. Huzzah!
The UNRF has army, navy, air, marines and evac tokens. The Sazzarran side has land, air, sea, reaper, and drone tokens. Both sides also have bases and garrisons! What are you going to do with all of that? Well, first, make sure it’s all separated into baggies, clearly. Ha! Boardgame humor. But wait, there’s more. You also have Resource Cards and Command Cards and Target City Cards (optional) and portals! And don’t forget the dice!
Alright folks. I need you to grab your reference sheets (pictured above and below the game board in the previous photo) and hang on because we’re about to jump into the deep end. Well, not the really, really deep end, because I’m going to simplify things for the purposes of this review.
Set up. The UNRF puts pieces on the board first, but not any mechs-not yet. What? Yes, there are mechs! Each side has big guns, as it were; military forces that get their very own cardboard standees and accompanying cards with stats about strength and defense. The UNRF player grabs 16 resource cards (excluding mechs for now) and places those in at least eight territories along with base tokens and water base tokens. The Sazzarran will draw two target city cards while the UNRF is busy setting up. Once that is all done you are ready to play.
Gameplay consists of six phases: World Event Phase, Resource Phase, Movement Phase, Battle Phase, Re-Deployment Phase, and the Control Phase. I’m not going to go into detail about each phase; partially because it would be lengthy and partially because the names say it all. I will state that during the World Event Phase both players roll dice and then reference the, what else?, Reference Sheet and resolve the result. For the UNRF this can mean gaining or losing resources and for the Sazzarran it means gaining resources and maybe portals. Portals! Because how else are the Kaiju going to arrive to destroy your pathetic little human enclaves! Die, puny humans!!!!
Some of the game pieces and cards
Where was I? Ah, yes. So, now you have the basic outline of play, but there is so much more. Both players remove their forces from the main board to a battle board for the battle phase. The rules are simple enough: roll the right number or higher and you damage your opponent’s forces. There are some rules regarding levels. For example: a level 6 cannot attack a level 8. You get the idea. Once all battles are resolved you may redistribute your forces, whatever forces remain and then use the garrison tokens to claim territory. (Correction: a Command 6 unit could attack a Command 8 unit if it is alive long enough to make the attack when it is its turn.) (Additional correction: Some of the rules are still being finalized and should be ready for the Feb 2016 Kickstarter launch) These are important for victory points. Because, it’s all about victory points. Points for garrisons, points for bases, points for enemy units you destroyed. First player to 120 points wins
Battle Board and Rule Book
Back to the original question: What is it like to play Kaiju Conquest? Honestly, I’m not entirely sure. There is a lot of good here. There is a lot here, period. The good: mechs, kaiju, portals, air, land, and sea forces. Dice! Battles! Then there are the things that are not bad. Not really. I’m just not sure they are necessary- like Garrison tokens and Evac tokens. And, while the battles are cool, they can drag on if you both get bad rolls or if you have a lot of UNRF and Sazzarran tokens, which can happen.
I still haven’t answered your question. Wait, my question. Not really. When playing Kaiju Conquest I felt like I was playing a niche war game that I was unaware of. I kept thinking “Wow! This is a style I have never played before” and I thought it was something that existed and I had never come across. But, others in my play group felt the same. Kaiju Conquest is not in production yet and the version I received is different from the version that exists as of the time of my typing this review. There are cosmetic changes that are currently being made and I feel they are for the better.
I want to like this game. I want to like it a lot. And I think I could with just a few minor tweaks. And I have been informed by the designer, Warren Loewen, that he is indeed making some of these changes. This makes me very excited to see how it turns out once it hits Kickstarter in February of 2016.
What would I like to see if/when Kaiju Conquest hits Kickstarter/production? I’d
like to see a stripped down version. Give me the air, land, sea, and mech forces. Give me the bases. But, then do give me all of that stuff I want pulled out in expansions! Let me get settled in and used to this world and this game and then hand me the Evac units.
A simultaneous 2 player game of surviving the apocalypse all in 5 to 10 minutes.
It’s a nice day in Meepleton. You & friends are enjoying the day without a care in the world . . .
BOOM! Transformers blow, cars crash, people fall to the ground unconscious. Phew! You’re wobbly but okay.
RAWR! Nearby a giant, heinous monster wreaks havoc!
Get your friends to the school’s forgotten fallout shelter.
Dump out tin, choose a color, place 4 meeps laying down & 1 standing on your side of tin.
Grab matching dice.
Tin is the Fallout Shelter (FoS).
Stand monster a few inches from FoS with green die behind it, 6 facing up.
Place 2 white supply boxes between the FoS & nefarious monster.
Get your meeps to their feet, stay on yours, secure the FoS, get 1 supply box & seal the FoS!
Your actions are on 7s & you need 1 standing meep to help your single meeps or to knock down others.
FoS holds a max of 7 meeps.
Start game & roll your dice. Standard game is simultaneous rolling, not turn-based.
On a 7 you can:
Stand 1 meep (if none standing)
Help 1 meep to its feet
Help 1 standing meep into FoS
Knock down 1 standing opponent
Toss 1 opponent out of FoS (you need 1 in) BUT place them standing up outside FoS
Send out RECON PAIR from the FoS to get 1 supply box
Stand 1 knocked down meep in RECON PAIR
Knock down 1 meep in RECON PAIR
Drag 1 supply box into FoS with standing RECON PAIR
Seal FoS – Close lid with at least 4 of your meeps in & 1 supply box for the WIN!
What about the monster?
Three game modes – Decide before you start: UHOH or OMG or CRA-CRA!
UHOH activates monster die as soon as a supply box gets into the FoS. This is standard play. Once activated, player rolling doubles of monster die’s face-up number has to turn monster die down 1. A double 6 turns monster die to 5, a double 5 turns it to 4 & so on. When monster die is on 1, snake eyes (double 1s) ends game. Monster gets in FoS & eats you! BUT . . . either player can be a hero by tossing 1 of their outside standing meeps onto monster die! That meep is forever gone (but not forgotten). However, next double 1s ends the game unless another jumps on. Sacrificing a meep doesn’t need a 7 & can be done in or out of FoS but only when monster die is on 1.
OMG mode activates monster die when the game starts. Faster game but it sucks to be human.
Look at this. Would you look at this? That’s a lot of plastic. 3d printed plastic. This, all of this, is NecroVirus. And there’s a 31 page pdf of rules.
Look at this!
Before I get into this I want to back up a little. We here at S&M are huge fans of Zpocalypse and Zpocalypse Zmergency. Now, on the face of it NecroVirus looks like Zpocalypse on a calorie intense diet and weight lifting program. But it’s not. It’s really not.
In NecroVirus you have different mission cards that set up specific scenarios with specific win conditions. For example you might need to fiind four survivors and get to the Cathedral within 15 turns. That’s as simple as I can put it. Create the world, complete the mission. How complicated can I make it? Well I don’t have to. Like I said there are 31 pages of rules. And it’s not that it’s impossible to figure out it’s just it feels like a larger, more insurmountable obstacle.
“Something can’t be ‘more insurmountable.’ – It’s either surmountable or it’s not.
He’s right, but the point is: obstacles.. I would really love diagrams in here that were “anatomy of a character card” or “anatomy of an event card”. Just a quick reference so I know what means what on the cards. And then also give me the additional 31 pages of rules. I feel important for me to state that following the instructions as written makes the game seem more complicated than it is. And there are small issues such as the order of actions in the rules book do not match the order of actions on the starter button.
Huh? What’s that? Yes, enough of rules. I started out by saying “look at all this stuff”. So much glorious 3D printed plastic. You get a great selection of different types of buildings in various states of disrepair. You get character pieces with their character names printed on them. There are zombies, and food tokens, and weapons and other supply tokens; little boxes in which to put the tokens for when you scrounge.
There are some issues with this setup. In the review copy we received you can see some of the issues with 3D printing. There are parts on some of the buildings that didn’t form quite right or some that have little strands of plastic that one assumes aren’t supposed to be there. Additionally, all of the zombies we received are the same color, which isn’t a problem for other games like this, but in the missions we did players control zombies to attack the player to their right. You can see how quickly and insanely confusing this can get especially once all players have placed 7 zombies on the board.
Let’s talk about the space issue too. This is not a small setup. You’re going to need a big table or a friend with a big table. And you’re going to either want to leave this setup or make sure you have enough room for storage if you have the 3D version. What? Ah, yes. You can also just do a 2D print and play version, which would reduce storage issues considerably.
But why would you want to?! Look at this! It’s an entire 3D apocalypse city with these great buildings where the little strands of plastic I complained about before actually resemble rebar or support beams in these once cared for, but now dilapidated buildings. And sure all of the zombies we received were the same color, but you can paint them to match the colors of the characters. Or, if you are 3D printing your own then print them in different colors yourself.
Look at this!
Gameplay! There are different missions with different setups, by the idea of each is basically the same. Don’t get bit, and get to the safety point before the set amount of turns while also meeting the win conditions. Survivors have four action points they can spend to move, scrounge for goods, or kill zombies. Players control zombies and attack the player to their right with those zombies. I’m still not sure how I feel about that. I almost think I would prefer some sort of AI where zombies are moved indepebdently of this player attacking that player. But it may just be that I’m not used to this, and you may really like that direct conflict. Oh, and you use d20s to help resolve conflict. Yay dice!
So, that’s NecroVirus. But the Kickstarter for this isn’t just about this game. It’s about Boardcraft. The point is to create a service and community where players can design their own characters and scenaros. You don’t have to be limited to zombies, you can create share and print fantasy related gaming pieces and characters.
I don’t have a 3D printer, though I would love one, so if you want to send me one please feel free to do so, but I love the idea of BoardCraft. They want to create a world and provide a framework and tools where gamers are using the same jumping off point and then see where it goes from there. Boardcraft envisions people creating their own rules and expanding the worlds and . most importantly sharing.
To get the game as you see it here in front of me will cost you $250 US on the kickstarter. That’s a little rich for my blood. Maybe you go for the $25 print and play. Maybe you enjoy that. Then, maybe you want to updrade to 3D. Maybe you start one building at a time. Maybe you work your way up to a full 3D version.
Is the full version 3D version of NecroVirus worth $250 to me? No. I can’t spend that much all at once on one game. Can you? Do you want to? Because if you do, what I see here, is the opportunity to allow a game to completely overtake your life. You have all of these building and roads and characters, what do you do next? Well, you probably want to paint all of it. Let’s face it, you are probably angry about all the changes to Warhammer and have thrown all of that away or handed it all to your younger sibling. You need to start again and if you spend $250 on THIS you are going to make sure it’s worth it.
Again, would I pay for all of this? No. Unless my wealthy reclusive eccentric uncle who lives in a perfect replica of NORAD in the wilds of New Hampshire dies and leaves me an inheritance.
Would I play this again? In a heartbeat. This is fun. After you get past the whole learning curve thing and I’d probably house rules some of it. The thing is you could completely write your own rules and just use these pieces and characters as your template.
Do I love the idea and approach of BoardCraft? Creating tools and a community for tabletop gamers? 100%.
Looney Labs recently sent us here at Spaghetti & Meeples copies of Batman Fluxx, Adventure Time Fluxx and Fluxx Dice. For those unfamiliar with Fluxx it’s a card game that starts out with simple rules: everyone gets a hand of three cards, on your turn you draw a card and play a card. Very simple. Except the cards you play may change those rules and you can wind up drawing 4 cards and playing six. What? Yes. Additionally, the win conditions can change with each player’s turn. One wins by having the right combination of “keepers” and/or “creepers” that match with the current goal card.
I (Brandon) have previously done a review of Zombie Fluxx for Zombease. Aside from some of the standard zombie tropes (shotguns etc) Zombie Fluxx didn’t have a lot of personality and I recommended getting another Fluxx theme that allowed for more inside jokes or a feeling of connection. After playing Batman and Adventure Time Fluxx I stand firmly by that assessment. One of the things I enjoy about Looney Labs’ games is that they are all, for me, basically abstract games. This is great because you can slap on any theme and it will work. The drawback is that it means that if you aren’t a fan of abstract games then the theme is all that more important. So let’s get to these themes.
Batman Fluxx. Oh, Looney Labs. You sly dogs. You clever velociraptor. You really tricky people who jacked straight into the mainline of my early adulthood that was still awash in the hormones and memories of my youth. You picked the best Batman. The only really real Batman.
Yes! Batman The Animated Series that ran in the early to mid 90s. If you’ve never seen it, kids, I highly reccomend you watch the whole series. Shhhhh, the whole series. And then you will truly be able to enjoy the Batman version of Fluxx. Don’t get me wrong. You can still enjoy it if you have never seen the best version of Batman that ever was or ever will be, but I definitely felt some nostalgia while playing it.
“Oh great, now I have to feel nostalgic to enjoy this game”
No! No you don’t. How do I know? Enter Adventure Time Fluxx.
Adventure Time is a series that started in 2010, not 1992, and I have only seen maybe three episodes of it. So, does it hold up? It does for me. The art is great. It plays just as good as standard Fluxx, Monty Python Fluxx, or Batman Fluxx and I enjoyed it more than Zombie Fluxx. Did I mention the art? The art is great. The art is wonderful in both versions of Fluxx we were sent because it’s the art used from the shows. Even if you aren’t someone who watches Adventure Time the cards have such a pleasing look that it is really enjoyable to play.
Ok, folks. Now we get to the last part of this review. The part I was most excited about. The part I was most worried about. The part that, quite honestly, I was most dubious about. Fluxx Dice adds two dice and a few cards to any version of Fluxx you may choose to play. “How gimmicky” I thought. “What a cynical cash grab” I thought. “Look at that really quite stunning box art” I exclaimed. Look at it!
How does Fluxx Dice work? Well, you shuffle in a few extra cards and then set out the rules cards that came with it and then you roll the dice at the start of your turn. One die tells you how many cards to draw and one die tells you how many to play. It’s so simple, but it really increased my enjoyment of the game. Mostly because I love rolling dice! Who doesn’t love rolling dice? You don’t? Well, tough. Go roll some dice! Sincerely though, if you are someone who has enjoyed playing Fluxx and has found it’s lost its luster, definitely give Fluxx Dice a try.
Where does all of this leave us? Can I, Brandon, and we here at Spaghetti & Meeples recommend Batman Fluxx or Adventure Time Fluxx? Yes, in as much as Fluxx is a fun party game. We much prefer games of Fluxx with four or more people. It can be played with two, but the more the better. Get yourself on up to six players if you can. And even if you are brand new to Fluxx go ahead and get Fluxx Dice, because, well, dice.
Batman™ Fluxx available 8/7
Adventure Time™ Fluxx available 8/21
Fluxx Dice available 9/4
Greenbrier Games sent us a review copy of Zmergency and I couldn’t be happier. Zmergency is an expansion of sorts for Zpocalypse. You can read my review of that here. I say Zmergency is an expansion of sorts because while it does add more components it doesn’t add additional gameplay. Rather it simplifies things to just the combat phase, and that’s ok.
In my review of Zpocalypse I talked about how much I really loved that game and the sense of accomplishment and relief I felt when we finally won a game. That relief, however, is limited compared to the relief I got from winning a game of Zmergency. In the original game you win by surviving 4 nights at which point the game is over and you declare victory. But, the thing is, you, or rather your character, is still in the bunker. Sure, the game is over, but it was only a segment of your existence in the Zpocalypse. You will have to continue to fight, four nights at a time for the rest of your life. You can breathe easier, but the weight of your zombie filled situation still weighs on you; still nags at you in the back of your mind.
Create your own Scenario and Daily Goals
In comparison, when you reach the hospital in Zmergency you not only breathe easier, but you also feel lighter. You feel your muscles start to relax when you first break out of the darkness that is the original tile set from Zpocalypse into the Zmergency tiles. Your hopes start to rise and you can almost feel the sunlight falling on your face as you “Get To The Choppa!”(one of the scenarios in the game)
The Doctor and his bag of goodies
One issue I have with Zmergency is the set of rules. I feel like they are missing context and a connection to the original game. I suggest just jumping in and following the instructions for Enhanced Quick Play Rules to get a feel for the game and then see where things take you. Additionally, I feel like the box could have been smaller. When I first opened it everything fit just in the middle four inches of the box with spacers on either side.
I highly recommend getting Zmergency if you are a fan of Zpocalypse. It adds some fun gameplay and expands the world. You can use the quick play rules or add the tiles from Zmergency into the original game to change things up. You also get a new survivor-The Doctor. No, not that one. A medical doctor with a medical bag full of healing goodness. And you get two blank cards to create your own Daily Goal and Scenario. Very cool.
You can purchase Zmergency through Greenbrier Games here and even add some additional miniatures for fun here.
In Small World players act as races that first extinguish lost indigenous tribes and then go after each other. Who are these lost tribes? Where are we coming from? I don’t know, but we’re all kinda pissed that we’re all here. OK, well, maybe not pissed, but certainly cranky and we all want our space, and your space, and their space. Why? Because the more spaces on controls the more points one gets and the player with the most points wins. This is colonialism.
You know what? I just tried typing the whole set-up and that was tedious. Let me link you to the rules and give you a basic idea of what you are doing instead. Also, look at this picture.
So, you will choose a race that has been paired with an ability. On your turn you place your corresponding tokens on regions, starting from the edge and make sure they are connected unless your ability says otherwise. at the end of your turn you collect money for the spaces you occupy. Simple enough. First though, there are Lost Tribe tokens you must battle. All that means is you use one more token from your army than you would have, same for areas with mountains. Other players will do the same, but look out! Players can come after your regions as well, thus depriving you of points and gaining points for themselves.
Agh! So frustrating. My Farming Humans can’t compete against the Bivouacking Ratmen. No problem. Put your race in decline. Go ahead. Do it. Now pick a new race with a new ability. See how you do. This is one of the things I enjoy about Small World. You are able to try different strategies with different races and abilities within one game. Maybe choosing the Amazons will allow you to rally and win the day after all.
There are also many expansions in case you get bored with all of the combinations that come with the core game. We currently only have the Grand Dames expansion. It was a must have as the Amazons are the only women represented in the core game.
Is this game fun? It is for me and my family, and for our few friends we have played it with. Are there concerns? Potentially. Let’s address them. You are displacing indigenous tribes. Yes, they are “Lost” and pretty faceless on the tokens in the game. It’s all to make you feel ok about pushing people out of their lands. All of the other players are doing the same thing, and then you may all go after each other. This is colonialism, but hey it IS an area control game. Should these things concern you? Maybe not. They didn’t concern me because it’s dwarves and giants and ratmen and ghouls. It’s a fantasy world. It did, however, concern a friend of mine and we had a great discussion about it being representative of the world at large and its history. It’s not a game she will want to play again anytime soon and I think that’s fine. I’m really glad that this game sparked this conversation and allowed us to talk about big issues. It’s not the goal of Small World. Small World just wants you to have fun. Small World just wants to pit you against your friends. Small World is just a game. But, then again, it is a game placed in our world, and in our world we have a lot of history of the displacement and destruction of indigenous people and tribes, lost or not.