NOT Tremors: The Board Game

I don't always keep a full focus on everything going on, and sometimes things slip by me.  Like remembering to pick up my copy of the Terror Below Kickstarter game at Gencon this past summer.

So after paying for shipping (which I had originally not been required to pay since I was supposed to pick it up) I finally received my copy.

So when I first saw this, it kind of intrigued me in slightly warped way.  Just from the brief description, I thought of it as Tremors: the board game.

For those who aren't into 'modern' b monster movies, Tremors starred Kevin Bacon and was set somewhere in the US Southwest where giant sandworms (yes, the idea was most likely stolen from Dune (the fantastic book, not the horrible or ok or upcoming movie versions)) .  They appeared from nowhere and killed half the cast before being beaten.  They did a sequel which was, as expected, ok but not as good as the original, and then they actually churned out two more (which I luckily missed) and even a tv series (which I also missed).

Of course they didn't have the license, so just just took the idea and ran with it.

Inside the box you got a dossier which is the rulebook

Then beneath that is the board (with some packing matterial), folded

The board is actually two sided - for the basic game and a more advanced version (which would be more difficult because of the canyons in the middle of the board, severely restricting movement).

There is then the obligatory sheet of tokens for the game - which includes 5 standees for the worms themselves.

The sheet has victory point counters, target counters, location counters and worm standees.

Let me pause here a moment and be honest.  I am a bit of a sucker for small company games with miniatures, and I never did anything like read the rules for the game on the kickstarter.  I saw the pictures of the worms and really wanted the minis for them.  I kept hoping they would be stretch goals, and was disappointed that they only did one (in the expansion (below)).

Of course HAD I READ the rules or more of the description, I would have known there were no minis, nor were there ever GOING to be any.  Because they aren't used in the game.  The standees themselves actually are not used in the game.  The final step in the setup says it - "For added ambiance and terror, add any of the W.O.R.M. standees around the board or near the terror zone".  Yes, they are just cool art.  I still want minis of these, but they aren't coming, and I can't fault the game or company for that.

Inside the box are all the components, with obligatory cardboard spacers to immediately throw away (so I can fit the expansion contents in the box).

So what are the playing pieces?  First there are the W.O.R.M. eggs.  (W.O.R.M - Weapons of Remote Massacre - quite a stretch (but then my work has been really good about creating acronyms that are words for projects (and often have so very little to do with the actual project).   Each color of egg represents one of the four base types of worm (the queen spawns ALL four colors).

Then there are five vehicle tokens - painted wooden.  Basically meeples, but vehicles.  Veeples maybe?  I didn't realize it until I looked at this picture while writing this, but the green SUV looks more like a steam roller with the solid wheel (because there is no bumper to hide the wheels).

There are plastic rubble tokens.  I'm usually not a huge fan of this type of token, but since you are limited to only having at most two in any given space on the board, they actually work well (and fit the theme)

A pair of dice - D6's with decals for the numbers.  You need the two colors as the blue die determines column and the orange one row on the board when determining placement of targets.

There is a deck of vehicle cards - these are what is used in the actual game play

There are five types of W.O.R.M.s, with a card for each.  Each of the smaller ones is a specific color (matching the eggs).  Each one indicates the space where it's target token starts, the health (if you want to try to kill it), the number of cards for it to attack and the pattern of destruction caused when it attacks.

There are character cards, each giving a slightly different advantage to the player

Bounty cards give victory points for delivering eggs or killing worms

Item cards help your team of characters

Weapon cards are used to actually fight the worms.

The setup takes a bit.  The vehicle, worm, bounty, item and weapon cards are shuffled and placed in respective stacks. 

Pick which side of the board to play - the canyon is the more difficult one.  Place the five location token on the skull markers on the board.  Four bounty cards are drawn an placed at the top of the board, these are bounties you can claim for victory points.

Each player starts with one item and one weapon card (these are kept hidden until used).  Each player then gets 3 character cards, choosing one to be the initial leader.  Then each player gets three vehicle cards for their hand.

There are four black worm cards - these are the starting locations.  For each of these resolve an attack - this means that an appropriate colored egg is placed in the space indicated by the dice symbols at the top of the card, and then rubble is placed in the marked spaces on the card.  No more than two pieces of rubble can be put in any space - any more are discarded.

Then draw three worm cards and place these in the terror, each under a target number.  Take the target token and put it on the space matching the card (this is where the worm starts).   You may do additional worm attacks from random cards if there are more players (3 players do 1, 4 do 2 and 5 do 3 more attacks).

The first player is the one who most recently defeated a worm in combat.   Play move clockwise, but starting with the LAST player and moving counterclockwise each player puts their veeple into a starting location (and to vehicles cannot be in the same location at the same time).

The play is not overly complicated.  You get a team of three characters - picking one to be the current leader.  You can use the leaders ability until s/he is killed - then you replace it with another team member.  If all three of your team members are killed - you are out.

Each player has a vehicle pawn they move around the board.  Each turn you play a vehicle card from your hand, it will indicate how many actions you get that turn, as well as how any target tokens may move (and possibly other effects).  When you play the vehicle card, you place it beneath a worm in the terror zone.  The number in the lower right of the worm card is the card limit - you can never place a card on a worm that has reached its limit. 

After playing the card, resolve it by moving the target token according the arrows on the card (if any).
After moving the worm token, you perform the number of actions you got from the card.  These actions are (you may repeat actions):

  • move 1 space (orthogonally (i.e. no diagonal moves))
  • ramp another player (i.e. jump over their space
  • remove a rubble token from an adjacent space (you cannot move into a space with any rubble tokens on it) and place it on your leader card.  Once you collect 3 rubble, you must return them to the supply and immediately draw either an item or a weapon card (though the card CANNOT be used the turn it is drawn)
  • pick up all the eggs in your current space
  • deliver 1 egg you are carrying
    • each egg is worth one victory point, however if you deliver one that matches one of the four bounty cards at the top of the board, you take that card and get that many points instead)
    • each location gives a different bonus for delivering an egg (only once per turn)
      • general store - draw an item card
      • motel - gain 1 vp token (in addition to the point(s) for delivering the egg)
      • state police - draw a weapon card
      • govt facility - draw a bounty card (from the deck or the top of the board) and keep it face down - now it is a secret bounty ONLY you can fulfill.
      • hospital - bring a dead character back to life
Once your actions are finished, then if three is a special ability on the vehicle card you played, you must perform it (higher numbered cards have negative abilities, lower ones positive abilities).

Finally, draw vehicle cards until your hand is back up to 3.

Then, between turns, the W.O.R.M.s attack.  A worm that has the number of cards specified on it will attack that turn.  If there are face down cards (these are placed a special abilities) then flip them over and resolve them (in the order placed).  Then place an egg matching the worm color on the space where the target token is currently located.  Add a piece of rubble to all the spaces around the egg as indicated by the card (the queen is a little special as she places 4 eggs (one of each color) around her target). 

If a veeple is in a space where an egg or rubble is placed, then they are attacked by the worm.  If you are caught in an attack, you may attempt to hunt the worm using any weapon cards you have (or possible avoid it if you have an item)  If you are able to deal equal or greater than the worms life, you defeated it and gain a victory point (unless there is a bounty on it, in which case you get the bounty card and associated victory points).  Any time a bounty is claimed, a new card is drawn to replace it.

If multiple players are caught in a worm attack, they each get to attempt to kill it, starting with the player who went last and going clockwise.  Damage accumulates, but only the player to lands the killing blow will get the vp. 

If you are not able to defeat the worm, then ALL leaders that were attacked are killed - their cards are turned face down and the next member of their team steps up to take their place.  Any active weapon and item cards are discarded as well.  Your pawn is then placed in a location of your choice on your next turn.

If all the members of a players squad are killed, they are out of the game, and the remaining players each get one more turn.

The winner of the game is the first player to 20 victory points (or if someone dies, the highest total).

As part of they kickstarter, they added a special booklet of stories and background.

They also had an optional expansion. Of course I had to have this because it has a worm mini in it.  However the worm miniature is only used to indicate that a player has suffered a TPK (total party kill) - they are given the token to remind everyone else they only have one more turn.

There are some new tokens.  Two alternate dice, a ramp and a tank (if you want it for your vehicle).  I'd like to actually have alternate vehicle rules, giving each vehicle a different ability.  Maybe in a future expansion.  The ramp can be use to jump over the canyon.  The tank does allow a sixth person to play however.

There are wooden target tokens to replace the card versions.

There are also some radioactive egg tokens.  They can be used instead of the blue eggs, and glow in the dark (if you want to play the game in the dark).  They have no effect on the game however.

The TPK worm mini.  Cool, but no real game play value.

A few new cards.  A new character card, a new player reference card,  new weapon card and a ramp card (to be used with the ramp token).

There is also some new worm cards - TinkerBelle.   Tinkerbelle randomly places 2 eggs when she attacks (and each card has a different color combination).  She also has different attack patterns on her cards - just to add a little more randomness into the game.

It actually looks like quite a bit of fun, with some interesting strategy as the players effectively control when a worm attacks (so make one attack where it will hit an opponent to hopefully kill their leader, or attack near you so you can grab the bounty on it).  At first it looked like there were not going to be enough victory point tokens - but most of the VP come from the cards so this isn't really an issue after all.

I still wish it had minis for all the worms - though I don't know what I'd use them for if it did.

Because it is all fun and games . . .