Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Neuroshima Hex!

Neuroshima HexHi! Today I've decided to share a little about one of our newest games, Neuroshima Hex by Z-Man Games. Angie and I have played this a few times since we gave this for ourselves for Christmas. That is a bit of a story alone!

We had decided to allow ourselves one game for Christmas, but we were torn on what to get. On our list were Steam, Dixit, Neurosima Hex and the new Sid Meier's Civilization board game. We went back and forth on it, and came up with a plan on how to decide: we decided not to decide for ourselves... and get someone from our friendly local game store to choose for us.

So... one of the joys of having a physical game store to walk into is building relationships. Our primary local game store is Evolution Gaming in Eugene, Oregon, where we live. We described our dilemma to one of the owners, and asked if he would be so kind as to make a choice. He looked at our list, and threw the game in a box as we meandered around the other side of the store. He later told us that he picked it based on what he knew we played. This is why local game stores are awesome. Or at least can be, when the people running it have the right attitude. Like at Evolution Gaming, or at Rainy Day Games in Aloha, Oregon.

Anyway... the game. Of course he picked Neuroshima Hex. This made the list in part due to the iPhone app. My wife had been playing it on her iPhone for awhile and was intrigued by it. So she had a few plays up on me, which is fine. But just so you know, there's a cheap way to try it out... if you have an iPhone.

Neuroshima Hex is a cross between an abstract area control game and a tactical combat game. Played on a hexagonal grid, you and your opponents are trying to destroy one another's base. You do this by playing tiles and attacking. Your turns consist of drawing tiles from your faction's supply until you have three, discarding a tile and then playing up to two tiles. Tiles are either going to be a unit, which typically has a melee or ranged attack value in certain directions, a module which gives bonuses to adjacent friendly units, and action tiles. The primary type of action tile is an Attack tile, which you may play at the end of your turn to initiate a board-wide execution of all tiles' attacks according to their initiative value. All players' units participate.

So positioning is everything. When you place a tile, you must consider its initiative bonus in relation to enemy units that are eligible to attack it. Your super melee unit may be adjacent to the enemy base, but it may not get to act before it is eliminated. There are a lot of considerations altogether, making this a very strategic game.

In the base game there are four factions, each with a different flavor. It should be noted that there is a roleplaying game that this was based (called Neuroshima), and the factions draw from the post-apocalyptic world this happens in. One is a bunch of mutant brutes who melee well but lack range. Another focuses on range and mobility. One makes extensive use of modules, and the last is unit-heavy and spreads across the board easily. Pretty balanced. There are also two expansions that add factions to the base game, one of which (Neuroshima Hex! Duel) can be played as a stand-alone two player game.

Neuroshima Hex: Babel 13 Expansion Neuroshima Hex: Duel Expansion
The verdict? We like this game a lot. It doesn't take long to play, and it is very strategic. There are a lot of considerations in the game. Playing the game just as a tactical game will get you stomped, but so will playing it as only an abstract area control game. We're very glad to have this game in our collection.

And a note on customer service. the copy that we opened had a defective board. The board had an additional cut through the center, resulting in a sliver of the surface coming off almost immediately, showing the paperboard underneath. My wife contacted Z-Man and received correspondence from Zev (Mr. Z-Man himself!), followed by a replacement board a few days later. We always appreciate when a game company provides great service. Thank you, Z-Man!

I hope you guys enjoyed this. Have you played this game? Or the Neuroshima Duels? Let us know what you think! And also check out Cool Factor 5 and see what Julian is playing!

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