Publisher: SolarFlare Games
Game Designer: Dave Killingsworth
Artwork: Brian Judkins, Andora Cidonia
Ages: 8 and up
Playing Time: 20-40 minutes
Suggested Retail Price: $25
Go Camping, It’ll Be Fun They Said…
Nothing is as idyllic as a weekend in the woods camping with your friends. Enjoying the crisp mountain air, roasting hot dogs and marshmallows by the fire and watching the furry little creatures frolic about the forest, until their undead counterparts come to chomp on you. It’s… wait, what?!
Go camping they said, it’ll be fun they said. Yea, right! Apparently the proverbial ‘they’ didn’t realize that forest animals can reanimate into the scampering dead, chasing you out of your cozy little tent racing through the woods for the safety of the highway, at a dead run!
Over The River and Through The Woods
Nightmare Forest: Dead Run is the third title to hit Kickstarter from SolarFlare Games, following the first two successful projects, Thrash Car and Dumpster Brawl. Designer Dave Killingsworth has aimed squarely for the light, casual, family gamer crowd and hits the target with this dice and card, push your luck, side scroller mash-up that’s both easy to play and teach, making it solid fun for everyone.
The challenge and goal in Nightmare Forest: Dead Run is simple, to survive your flight through a column of seven cards of ever increasing toughness. You’ll pick up gear, bust through obstacles and even make allies along the way before taking on the big bad. The thought of facing the likes of Bigfoot, the Chupacabra, a Grizzly or wolf are scary when alive but even worse when they’re zombie’s!
If you can get past the boss monster, you’ll escape to the highway, flag down a passing car and get away from this deadly circus sideshow gone bad. Yea, you’ll be leaving your friends behind but this whole camping thing was their idea anyway!
It’s push your luck, dice chucking fun for everyone in Nightmare Forest. No big head scratching strategies, just power through the perils and make it out alive. You begin with your choice of character card, 4 dice and one gear card, gaining one extra die and a new gear card in every zone that you enter up to a total of 7 dice and three gear cards when you face down the boss. If you’re still alive that is.
Your first option on turn one and a wise one to take, is to search for gear. Roll as many dice as you want to risk and for every success you draw a gear card and if you roll two successes, you draw two cards but may only keep one.
After you’re done searching for gear, you flip the card in front of you to see if it’s a zombie, obstacle or an ally. Zombies and obstacles are handled in the same manner while allies work similar to gear cards, buffing your attack or offering you defense.
Once flipped, you must fight the zombie, so make sure you have at least one die but preferably two because zone one creatures have a maximum of 3 hit points. While you can roll a double hit on your attack die, without a gear card to assist you may well end up getting you a wound if you’re unable to defeat it.
Attacking a zombie is very straightforward; you either beat it or you don’t. You first declare how many dice you are rolling and any gear you’re using to bolster your attack number. If your combined attack meets or beats the zombie’s number, it is discarded and you move your character card to the slot the zombie was in. You’re now one step closer to safety!
If you lose, you take a wound and on your fifth wound you’re dead. If you have any dice left you can risk flipping the next card and rolling in another attack or you can roll those to search for more gear, up to a maximum of three gear cards. All dice used are exhausted for the turn; you don’t get them back until your next turn.
Most gear cards give you extra attack points to add to your dice roll and some gear can automatically kill a zombie without even needing to roll, but be careful because some weapons are noisy! If your gear is noisy, there is a chance you will attract a zombie to your location, causing you to have to fight two zombies in order to move forward. Other gear adds to your defense or to steal gear from other players and some gear can even be combined to create some devastating weapons. It pays to search or steal, there are no friends in Nightmare Forest!
If you find yourself behind one of your friends you can toss a piece of gear at them and try to attract another zombie to their location, unless there are two already there. It’s a bit of a slowdown mechanic but it comes at a cost and with a risk, is it worth throwing a piece of good gear away that you may need to possibly slow them down and make them fight an extra zombie? Then again, if they don’t they may get away and leave you to become zombie critter chow.
The gameplay of Nightmare Forest: Dead Run is fast, furious and a lot of fun. The spread of creatures you’ll face is nicely balanced and flipping that next card in front of you always brings nervous anticipation. What creature or obstacle will you face next or can you find an ally?
unDead or Alive?
SolarFlare has done a great job here in creating a light-hearted and unique take on the zombie genre but don’t mistake that light heartedness for being easy on you. Careless risks will punish you but risks must be taken in order to be first out of the woods and win the game.
I’ve played Nightmare Forest: Dead Run numerous times and everyone from heavy gamers to casual or even non-gamers has enjoyed this quick little filler that has some serious bite. The game’s premise is handled in a safe and campy (pun intended) way, making it perfect to play with kids, providing some thrills while also teaching them lite decision making skills and the risks necessary in order to succeed.
This game is a relaxing way to wind down at the end of a long night of gaming with your friends or after dinner with family. It does what it sets out to do and does it well, providing an entertaining and very thematic experience with some lite decisions and push your luck challenges that are sure to produce some laugh out loud moments around the table.
If you’re looking for a quick little card game that you can play with your gamer or non-gamer friends, Nightmare Forest is a sure bet to get.
Company Website: http://solarflaregames.com/
Company Twitter: https://twitter.com/bravefrontier
Note: A preview copy of this game was provided to me.