sense of having to plan multiple moves ahead with everyone else causes a
flurry of discussions about the best routes and actions to take and who
best to perform what and when. Although the game offers turns for each
player, trying to play your own strategies without cooperating with the
others on your team can often lead to an untimely death for everyone –
the only way you’ll beat the game even on the easiest of difficulty is
by working together. It may leave the game open to power-gaming in some
groups, though I’ve found it to be more fun as a group puzzle and never
really felt I needed to ‘control’ my turn, even though I of course had
the final say.
A round of the game is ended by all the players
passing, or an event triggered by crowd cards. Then the game enter the
night phase where it’s time to spread the infection. For each infected
card left in the crowd and in the uncontained quarantine you’ll have to
add yet more zombies from the infection draw pile into the population
draw pile – increasing your risks of exposing zombies as you progress.
If the infection draw pile runs down to zero, you will lose the game
Despite a relatively simple puzzle game mechanic,
having to constantly keep an eye on what is in quarantine and spending
an action to deal with it gives a sense of constantly fighting against a
rising tide. With each day and night cycle, the game naturally ramps up
in difficulty, so while at the start you may feel like it’s a breeze to
play, towards the final rounds you’re fully engrossed in this idea your
crowd and city is about to be overrun. It’s rare to feel like you’ve
got everything under control and in those brief isolated moments you’re
all too aware the calm is being held on by a knife edge. These mechanics
make the pacing of a game absolutely perfect for the setting – you feel
like things get worse quickly and you don’t have that lull followed by a
whole bunch of terrible things happening at the draw of a card that you
find in other co-operative games.
Throughout the game you will be
drawing Raxxon cards, usually as a result of using up one of your
actions. Raxxon cards will give story driven events which can ask the
player to make a choice. A lot of these cards either force the player to
accept something that will damage their abilities or move up a Raxxon
track. The Raxxon track marks the influence of the pharmaceuticals
company; if this track gets to the end then you’ll lose the game.
Raxxon cards are where the flesh of the world building comes from, with
flavour text detailing the ultimate cause and effects of the infection
being explained. A lot of the Raxxon cards are triggered by having a
character in play or a certain previous Raxxon card already having been
Because of the removed over the top
setting of the Raxxon world you’re not feeling emotionally guilty for
some of the ridiculous circumstances you’re put in.
one of our games Jamie began to roleplay his character of the mayor
through trying to constantly air strike everywhere in an attempt to
clear out some of the zombie infestations – condemning any civillians in
his way. On paper it doesn’t seem like a fun experience, but you’re
never really too engrossed in the humanity of the situation – something
that allows you to enjoy the game as a fun experience rather than an
emotionally draining task.
When these triggers and characters are
in play, these cards are great fun and offer some hilarious mini-role
playing moments. However, this does have the unfortunate effect that
you’ll often pick up one of these cards only for nothing to happen at
all. It sucks when someone draws a card specifically for your character
but you don’t get to play with it because they came out of the deck in
the wrong order, which happens frequently. You might be able to revisit
the card later, but it does feel anti-climatic.
There are multiple
cards that expand upon the characters that are being played and you
start to get a sense of who and where your characters fit into this
zombie infested world, though at the start you may think ‘Oh hey Brian
Lee is the mayor, that’s cool’, towards the end you might end up with a
sense of self-loathing of this devious politician. Raxxon cards aren’t
always terrible and few of them will sway a game outright, so using an
action that might force you to take one doesn’t feel like something you
want to avoid at all costs, but rather something that can be quite an
enjoyable path to take.
Easy to learn, hard to master
is an incredibly easy game to pick up and learn with the manual
detailing a full turn example along with any questions that might arise.
There isn’t any complexity in the mechanics but rather the difficulties
arise from the gameplay itself; as the old phrase goes – it’s easy to
learn hard to master.
Visually the the cards themselves are
interesting with a good range of different characters, designed in a
monotone inked look. Each card allows you to easily identify at a glance
which is important in a large crowd, and the pictures offer a little
bit more world building – it’s a lot easier to feel sorry for the family
you just killed when you’re staring at a picture of their supposed
The box feels far less inspired though, with an attempt
of some form of militaristic simplicity on show. Plain black with a
dark grey slightly raised logo might thematically fit but on your shelf
it’s going to look uninviting and a little bit dull. There is an attempt
to present it with some aging effects but once again this fall flat
with it looking more like you’ve been using it as a surface to write
some notes on. If you’re at a shop looking at games to buy, Raxxon is
absolutely not going to jump out at you, nor does it do a very good job
of visually imparting the excitement and fun of the game itself.
is a lot of iconography included in the game and while you do learn
them quickly it would be being a nice addition to have a reference card
for all players. Because of the lack of it you’ll be having to pass the
manual around for the first few games, something which is always a
little immersion breaking.