Wreck and Ruin Kickstarter Review

Wreck and Ruin kickstarter review

Oh what a day! Oh what a lovely day, when a brand spanking new Kickstarter prototype arrives at my door. And it's not for a micro card game, a fantasy dungeon crawler or some form of worker/dice placement, no it's tearing around a post-apocalyptic wasteland in a diesel guzzling vehicle a la Mad Max. Oh what a lovely day indeed.

Wreck and Ruin's premise is hardly new or original, as your gang of petrol heads ventures into the wasteland in search of artefacts and resources from before the big "Pox-Eclipse". You'll manage a small car sales lot in bikes, buggies and big-rigs and face off against one to four opponents as you race to capture the tech. It may not be original, but oh boy is it fun.

Wreck and Ruin Kickstarter review Mad Max

On first appearances, Wreck & Ruin is a very simple game. Each turn you’ll get five activations and you can spend those action points moving, shooting or ramming, all in the aid of getting to an objective before your opponent. I've always said that a good game requires limitations, and this is where Wreck and Ruin scrapes off the rust and shines. During the game you have five vehicles and with only five actions this means you can't move and shoot with every model on the board. Why is this good? Because it introduces the stalwart of great game design; meaningful decisions.

In order to claim an objective your vehicle must sit on its hex and remain undamaged for an entire turn. Which means you can put pedal to the metal and race for the objectives or you can hang back and approach guns blazing, denying your opponent. By keeping the concepts simple and the action points low, designer Mark McKinnon has actually made a game that is surprisingly deep.

Wreck and Ruin Kickstarter review big rig

There are some extra touches that thankfully avoid weighing down the pace but pile on the theme. Vehicles have to use some of their movement to turn, and turning can only be achieved one hex facing at a time, if you end up facing the wrong direction you're going to have to drive round to come back. Also, collecting objectives gives you salvage cards, one time bonuses that you can use to your advantage. These could be laser guided missiles, a knight rider style turbo boost jump or even hacking an opponent's vehicle to send them in the wrong direction. These all add extra sparks of fun and although technically they are giving the winner a further advantage, they are so silly and enjoyable to play you never feel begrudged by them.

But the coolest part of the game by far, is the way that damage is handled. Rather than keeping tabs on reference card or stacking tokens next to a model, damage is managed via flame pegs that get added a vehicle. Not only does this look really cool on the table, it also means that you can check the amount of damage a vehicle has taken with a quick glance.

Wreck and Ruin Kickstarter review salvage cards

When the vehicle is completely on fire it crashes and burns and this is where the fun really starts. At this point the vehicle goes out of control and players roll dice to determine the direction and distance the vehicle travels. From a purely mechanical point of view, it's a method to move vehicles off of objectives, but in reality it adds a splash of delicious chaos to the mix, as vehicles tear off in unexpected directions, ramming into other vehicles and causing a cascade effect of wanton destruction. The result is similar to that point in Roborally where one wrong turn can destroy everyone's careful planning and create absolute mayhem.

It really does exemplify what Wreck and Ruin is about, simple fun, but there's just enough depth here that the game remains full of options. There is a lot of reliance on dice but these never felt too swingy, a motorbike rider wielding a machine pistol is unlikely to turn a big-rig into a smoking ruin but it might just do enough to deny the objective. 

Wreck and Ruin Kickstarter review apocalyptic mayhem

So Wreck and Ruin isn't the most complicated of games, but it's got complexity where it counts, giving you strategy and those all-important meaningful decisions. But it’s the theme and how it executes that theme that makes the game really stand out and the result is downright fun.  If you're one of those people that prefer the term Amerithrash , then Wreck and Ruin is Anthrax, Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer, all on stage at the same time. Oh what a day indeed.

Still not sure? Then why not listen to Andy and I discuss Wreck and Ruin in detail on the Polyhedron Collider Cast.

Wreck and Ruin is on Kickstarter 3rd October.

This Kickstarter preview is based on a prototype version of the game provided by the publisher; the final product may look, play or smell different to that used in this preview.
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