Geek Proud, GeekOut.

Game Preview: Death Wish

So, first of all, we want to say massive congratulations to Jason from Sketchy Games on his recent successful Kickstarter campaign finally raising a massive £21,000 from an original target of £10,000 from 654 backers. The  game is due to be printed sometime this year with the copies due to be shipped sometime in January 2017. The print and play version is designed for 2-5 players and has 141 cards which consist of:

  • 18 Outbreak cards
  • 2 Instruction cards
  • 22 Disease cards
  • 33 Afflicter cards
  • 66 Symptom cards

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Now when I say cards I really mean just pieces of paper but that’s because I don’t have the ability to print to cards. If you fancy doing the same I would heavily advise you either laminate your bits of paper or use card sleeves, bits of paper are notoriously hard to shuffle and are very susceptible to water. Still, this was not really the fault of the game design and so did not influence our judgement of it. I grabbed a glass of cider and few volunteers who go by the names of Adam, Joe and Rob and we read through the rules to understand the game.

Setup

The game itself is very easy to setup and there are both downloadable and rules and a great video on the main website. You first of all set up four Disease cards placing the rest of the cards to the left, then just below them four symptom cards and deal four more symptom cards to each player, again placing the rest of the cards to the left. You then deal two Afflicter cards to each player face up and place the rest of them to the right of the symptoms and finally place the Outbreak cards just above them so that you have a nice rectangular setup.

To decide who goes first we had a quick chat discussing what the last major disease that we had. I don’t get very ill very often so there was no way I was going first but one of our group (Rob) had this horrible infection that made his arm puff up and be really huge so we decided he was most qualified to go first. I don’t know if this is the official way to decide who goes first but I thought it was relevant and fun to the task in hand.

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You have four options for your turn which are:

  • Gain Symptoms
    • Collect either one of the face-up symptoms (and replace it with a card from the pack) or two blind from the deck ensuring you have a maximum of 6
  • Become afflicted
    • Collect or swap and discard an Afflicter card, you may only have three at any one time
  • Add a disease
    • Turn over a disease card and place it on top of one in the pool
  • Contract a disease
    • Use the symptoms, and Afflicter to pick up one of the disease cards in the pool replacing the disease card in the pool and scoring points

There is an advanced rule where you can incubate your symptoms which we never got around to playing. When you contract a disease you may also cause an Outbreak. Outbreak cards add some randomness into the game where you can make another player gain some extra life, force them to swap their cards and so on. The winner of the game is the first person to reach the number of points that were agreed upon before starting (we chose 10).

Feedback & Criticisms

The game feels like a bit like the classic board game Ticket To Ride but with diseases instead of trains. After we played I sat and discussed the game with my volunteers to see what they felt, explaining that the final product will contain more cards, obviously better quality and a nice box. The general consensus was that they would buy the game and pay between £20-30 for the final product so pricing for the Kickstarter is just about right. We did have a few moments that we had to quickly house rule which I don’t have a massive issue with but would be nice if things were clearer. I will give you some two examples.

When adding a disease to the pool the instructions read “Place a new disease card above a disease in the pool (max 1 per slot)”. This actually means that you are only allowed one disease card on top of a disease card (making 2 in total). Okay, I admit it’s more about how you read this as a rule but something in me wants this instruction to be clearer. Secondly, there is an Outbreak card that allows you to swap all of your Afflicter cards with another player but does not define if you are allowed to swap one card for three cards for instance. We simply house ruled that it would have to be like for like otherwise it might give an unfair advantage. This is exactly the sort of thing you can generally house rule on the spot without spoiling the game.

Final Verdict

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As we were first time players I expected the game to take slightly longer than the approximate 30 minutes the website suggests, ours was about 40 minutes but I can honestly say that everybody had fun. It was not long before tactics started to rise during play and even a bit of gentle backstabbing so to speak with players messing up others with Outbreak cards. I certainly am looking forward to playing again and receiving my final copy in January. If you’re into card games then I would encourage you to register your interest on the website for a pre-order, in my opinion it’s well worth the investment.

Do you know of any Kickstarter board or card games we should trial out during our meet-ups? If so we would be happy to take a look into them and give feedback. As per usual you can get in touch with us via Facebook, Twitter or Reddit.

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