Monster Week: Maximum Apocalypse

  • Players: 2-6
  • Play time: 45-90 mins
  • Publisher: Rock Manor Games

It’s Monster Week and after playing as giant monsters destroying Tokyo yesterday, it’s time to team up and fight back against the monster hordes and other nightmare scenarios. Once a week, we try to play X-Wing in London’s Dark Sphere but a few weeks ago a Kickstarter game we’ve really been looking forward to turned up – Maximum Apocalypse! So after some X-Wing we packed up and cracked open the new game.

I had already read through the rules a few nights before and the game comes with a tutorial scenario to help you learn the basics and I have to say it helped us get started very quickly. We only had one play-through but it was a blast – it’s been a while since I’ve wanted to play a new game straight away as much as I wanted another round of this. Sadly, our time was up.

The game itself is a co-operative exploration game – your team will spend its time  revealing locations, scavenging and trading gear and avoiding or fighting monsters. There is also a hunger mechanic so if you don’t regularly use an action to eat (when you do have some food!) your character risks going into starvation and losing even more health. The tutorial level sees you making your way from a shopping mall across various locations to your van and you must collect enough fuel to get it started so you can drive away to safety.

Arnie Voice: GET TO THE VAN!

There are many different types of apocalypse to play – zombie, alien, nuclear, robot – and we are yet to see how differently they play out, but a quick skim through the rules for the Kaiju Rising expansion described a very different game-play mechanic for battling a colossal monster instead of a marauding horde! And there are more apocalypses on the way as the Gothic Horrors expansion pack has launched on Kickstarter today (good timing for this blog post, right?).

Our tutorial scenario was a good old fashioned zombie apocalypse and the 3 of us decided to play as a hunter, a surgeon and a fireman. Playing a scenario rated extremely easy, we felt like the game was extremely easy with my hunter scouting out tiles before we moved to them, the surgeon stocking up on medical supplies and fireman gathering ammunition for his shot gun. We uncovered a shelter to protect us from monsters, which was next to a farm full of supplies and we quickly started collecting the fuel required to refuel the van and drive off into the sunset. But it turned it wasn’t quite as extremely easy as we though and we were actually getting extremely lucky.

Halfway through the game, our surgeon drew their monster and pulled out a deranged fireman and a zombie horde, two boss cards in a row! This was extremely unlucky for two reasons : 1) it’s two tough cards to draw, and 2) we found out afterwards that we’d read the scenario rules incorrectly when we were setting up and there should not have been any bosses. But who gets the rules completely right the first time they play a game? No one, that’s who! The deranged fireman boss forces all players to discard their items and because of this my hunter began to starve, the fireman lost his ammo, the medic was not able to heal enough to cover the damage she was taking from the zombie horde, and between the surgeon and the rest of the team was a city street that spawned a monster any time you enter the area, making it difficult for us all to rally.

Forced to re-evaluate our strategy the game quickly became about pure survival, using abilities and items to ensure we would last long enough to take a beating and get the fuel to the van. Instead of wiping out the zombies, our fireman drew the zombies to him to soak up any damage. The surgeon made sure everyone had extra actions per turn for scavenging and healing. And my hunter had a stroke of luck and found a crossbow, allowing her to pop some head shots from a distance and clear some zombies. In the end, we made it through our first play-through with no casualties, but it felt like quite a challenge, especially for an extremely easy tutorial (and yeah, next time we’ll read the rules a bit more closely). We are planning on playing this again over the Easter weekend, and all we can say is – bring on the next Apocalypse!

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