Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Zeppelin Attack! - A review from The Bearded Pyro

Oh the Humanity!

Look up in the sky!  It’s a bird!  It’s a plane!  It’s, it’s…it’s an armed zeppelin and it’s going to destroy us!!!

A view of some of the cards in the game
Zeppelin Attack! is a simple deck building game by Eric B. Vogel, produced by Evil Hat Productions out of Silver Springs, MD.  The artwork and story line follow Evil Hat’s Spirit of the Century collection.  The best way I can describe it is a post-apocalyptic/punk, futuristic sci-fi-you-won-my-heart-over-with-this-one style.  Belonging to a steam-punk group myself, I instantly fell in love with the theme.  The individual cards depict crewmembers, zeppelins, or attack/defense events with beautiful, comic-book style pictures. This is one game I can sit and look through the cards for enjoyment and inspiration in itself.

The rulebook starts off with a short story to bring you right into the heat of battle.  Most games I’ve seen do this usual have a lengthy, full chapter introduction to the characters and setting, which to be honest, I usually skip.  But Zeppelin Attack! only has about three paragraphs and sums up the whole entirety of the game.  It plays 2-4 players, and I feel is great with any combination thereof.  My wife and I played quite a bit with just two players, and I enjoyed it as much as being able to gang up with friends in a four player, every man for himself, game.  The rest of the rulebook reads beautifully and as clear as day.  Though the rulebook seems rather thick for such a simple game, it’s full of examples of various conditions that really help with easily understanding how the game-play works.  They also have a QR Code on the box with claiming to teach you how to play the game in 15 minutes.  I will admit I have not watched the video, but for a quick link, click here.

Setup is simple, so long as you keep the cards sorted.  There are four different leaders battling for sky domination; Der Blitzmann, Gorilla Kahn, Jacqueline Frost, and Walking Mind.  Each one has their own Flagship, base deck consisting of zeppelin, attack, defense, and operative cards, as well as an experimental zeppelin with special abilities that must be purchased before it can be added to your deck.

The player's area and the central area containing the
mercenary cards.
There is a store setup in the middle of the players with mercenary cards and experimental zeppelins to be bought with Fate Points.  The manual says to give each player a total of seven fate points, with face values of three and four.  I like to add a bit of “Fate” in here myself and randomly pass out two fate cards to each player, instead of the standard seven points.  The cards range in value from two to five.  There could be a six point difference to start, but I haven’t been able to tell since we decided to try this.  Certain cards have special events with positive and negative consequences when they are acquired.  It took a few games for me to remember to read the events, but they can be a great asset to the game.

These are the personal zeppelins of each of the 4 captains in the game.
There are many ways to gain fate cards; through successful attacks and defensives, playing operative cards on your turn, or events when acquiring fate cards.  There are five piles in the store and at the end of a player’s turn, that player can purchase the top card of any pile, and make multiple purchases so long as they have the fate cards to pay for them.  The mercenary cards have victory points, and when purchasing them, you have the option to purge one of your start cards, which have no victory points, for one victory point at the end of the game, this is done by placing the chosen card face down under your flagship.  You also can take the top card of any mercenary deck, and place it under your flagship for each successful attack you make. You can purchase attack, defense, and operative cards, as well as attack and operative zeppelins.

One of the many zeppelins in the game.
The zeppelins have indicators on them that let you know which cards can be played.  The simplicity of this system makes it a great gateway game into deck builders, though it’s not the most simplistic game overall.  My wife was able to pick this game up with the greatest of ease, and she’s never played a deck building game before, or many other games for that matter….which you might already know if you’ve read my other reviews or listened to some of the podcasts I was lucky enough to join in on.  Any who….back to the review!  The flagship zeppelin for each faction cannot be destroyed.  It can play each type of action card, but can only support up to the highest value defense cards.  If you purchase the highest valued attack or operative cards, you will need to purchase a better zeppelin.  The zeppelins in your starter deck are not that powerful.

A powerful defense card.
The game is played until three mercenary decks have been depleted.  At the end of that player’s turn, the victory points on all cards in your deck plus each card you purged and gained from a successful attack are added together.  The highest value wins.  In the case of a tie, the person with the most fate points in their deck wins.  The box says it takes 45-60 minutes to complete, and I have to agree with it.  Every game I’ve played, outside of teaching people that haven’t played games like this before, has fallen in that time frame.  If I have an hour to kill, I’ll grab this game for ease of play and the enjoyment I get from the theme.

In all, this game is a 10/10 in my book.  The instructions, artwork, and game play are all spot on.  I’ve been spreading word of this game since the first time I played it.  It’s easy to learn, and master.  There is enough variation from the fate cards and various actions to keep each game unique every play.  Did I mention the theme?  It’s grand!  Pick it up, play it when you see it, tell your friends.  Thank you Eric B. Vogel and Evil Hat Productions for this delightful game!

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