Monday, June 22, 2009

Arctic Scavengers Review

In Brief

C&C hitched up the dog sleds, loaded up the seal blubber, and headed into the frozen wastes of a new board game, Arctic Scavengers, this week. Jon, Scott, Eric and a few helpers guided their tribe members in the grim ice age of the future, digging through the ruins and fighting off each other for the last remnants of a fallen civilization... and had a great time doing it! Check out our full review below.

Arctic Scavengers - Scraping by never felt so good...

Arctic Scavengers is a game where you guide your tribe to success - whoever has the largest tribe in the end is the winner. Tribe members include all sorts of characters that you recruit with offers of food and medicine, the stuff it's going to take to stay alive in the harsh climate of the future. There are scavengers and refugees, but also specialists like hunters, scouts, thugs, and snipers to help you climb to the top.

Each round, you draw cards from your deck, representing these people as well as the tools you'll use to help you survive and grow. On your turn, you assign your minions to various tasks like scavenging the junkyard for useful tools, hiring new recruits by hunting up enough food to feed them, or preparing to make your stand for a valuable contested resource at the end of the round. As you acquire more things, they go into your deck, to be drawn in future turns and contribute to your growing tribe. You've got to pick the most profitable direction between scavenging, hunting, and fighting for dominance - this makes for a lot of interesting choices, the hallmark of a good game.

Perhaps the most interesting mechanic of the game is deciding whether or not to fight for the valuable contested resource each round. These resources can be powerful tools or expert specialists or large families - all things that will come in very handy in surviving the cold and hostile world (and scoring the most points). But, only one player can win the contest each round! So, if you are investing heavily in the fight, you aren't out scavenging the wastes or growing your tribe incrementally. It's a gamble - push your luck against the other players for the big payoff or not... but don't let them just walk away with the prize uncontested either! Heck, maybe even a bluff will be enough to discourage them from trying...

Right away, we latched onto a nice variety of strategies and got a chance to explore them. With the randomness of a deck of cards driving the game and a lot of strategies, it really feels like this game has a lot of replay value, too. We had no trouble throwing down 3 times in under 3 hours of play - it's quick and clever and stays fresh. And it stays pretty close, too. If you are picking up a lot of cards, it fills in your deck, making your turns less predictable - a nice balancing factor.

The production quality of the game was entirely acceptable, nothing flashy or especially cool, but very serviceable and thematic. There can be a lot of shuffling and handling of the cards, so sleeves might be a good investment.

From The Guys

Jon says:

For me, a good game should be about choices, and Arctic Scavengers brings choice in from multiple angles to provide a fair amount of decision making in a small package of a game. Fun stuff and worth checking out.

Scott says:

I'm a sucker for CCGs, and this game incorporates the deck building aspect of that genre into it's mechanics quite well. Plus, who can resist sniping a couple of goofs riding a sled down a pile of junk? Not this guy.

Eric says:

Savage struggle for survival in an arctic wasteland? Sign me up! Word on the street is that there are going to be a series of expansions and other coolness... this one's on my "must buy" list.

C&C Rating

At Consoles & Cardboard we.... Love it

Listen to Episode 8 of the Consoles & Cardboard podcast to learn how to win a copy of Arctic Scavengers for yourself!

Review by Eric Jome

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