Shuffling Horror: Roswell 51

Shuffling Horror: Roswell 51

From: Gamewick Games

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

Shuffling Horror: Roswell 51 is a new Tabletop Board/Card Game from Gamewick Games.

Some time ago, I reviewed a game called Pittsburgh 68 by Gamewick, where through interesting game mechanics, you formed a classic zombie movie and attempt to survive.  The game flowed well, was very fun and different.  Recently, Gamewick has put together a high quality board game based on that same concept, with the theme being classic 50s alien invasion movies rather than zombies.  However, Pittsburgh 68  can also be played on this board game.  This is the first time I have seen a card game evolve into a board game.  I found that fascinating.

From the front cover: “A retro sc-fi B-Movie Board Game”

The game has some similarities to the previously mentioned Pittsburgh 68, except with a classic 50s aliens invasion theme.  There are references to classic movies like The Blob, THEM!,  and of course, Invasion from Outer Space.  However, there are some new mechanics that adapt it to a board game and make it more than just a story-telling game.  It states up front that these rules supersede the rules of Pittsburgh 68, and  the game plays better in this format.  The major changes to the include a Fade In and Fade Out token, as well as the Horror Star token.  These along with other aspects really bring out the feel of making a movie.

The game is surprisingly diverse because it can handle up to 3 to 13 players.  13!! We only play-tested it with 3 players but I can imagine how much fun it would be with more.  Played  cycles between a number of players and a director – a one versus cooperative many.  The players control “Survivors” and the director controls the monsters.  The players cooperatively work against the Director and the monsters and attempt to destroy them all, while the director attempts to kill the players and their allies.  With the wide player range, the game is scaled through various mechanics including the Spoint system and the cards themselves.

The players play one of the 12 survivors in the deck.  Examples are the Colonel, the Scientist, the Robot, and Rancher. They as a group work together to stop the director and the plots he hatches through card play.  The game starts with an opening scene with 3 face-up cards in the center of the board.  Cards can be a wide variety of things – monsters, event cards, equipment, and more.  These completely drive the game. The various mechanics of the game center around 4 phases or Reels of a movie, each reel being a stack of cards on the board.  Each Real, three cards are dealt from the Reel deck to form a scene.  During these scenes players can attack aliens, take items from the face-up, get another Survivor to form groups of survivors (up to 3), Rest or move into a sanctuary.  Their central goal is build up their survivors and keep the director from building up strong throngs of aliens, while at the same time creating a cinematic story of pulp alien invasion.

As a Director, the goal is to keep the movie going by building alien throngs with the cards available on the screen, attacking and killing survivors, and generally making it difficult on the players.  The Director forms the framework of the cinematic story and the players react to it while forming their own individual stories.  The job is one-part blackjack dealer and one-part antagonist to the players.  The dealer side of the director primarily is for the flow of the game, and once the director has that down, he can focus primarily eliminating survivors.  By far, the director is the more involved part of the game. While not a complicated game by any means, there is a lot that goes on in this game, especially for the Director.

From the back cover: “Don’t just play a game.  Play a movie.”

Key to the game mechanics is the resource management.  From equipment or Item cards to Spoints tokens,  the resources available to the Survivors can make or break the game for them.  Meanwhile, the Director can either perform various actions to keep players from getting the items and make them spend Spoint tokens more.  Players need to allocate Items to Survivors that can use them most effectively, as each is different.

The game mechanics beyond the card play involve dice rolling as well as the aforementioned token spending.  Two 6-sided dice are used in combat, and the Spoints can either modify the roll to-hit or damage.  It is a fairly simple combat system where you roll under a particular value clearly displayed on the cards.  There are also some very creative and interesting rules that round out the game that include the Fade In token (the Director chooses who goes first at the start of the each reel after the first), Turning Points and Last One Standing (two ways to end the game), and Pod Players (players are converted to the Director’s team).

The board is brilliantly designed to appear like a drive in theater from the view of a car.  As it turns out, it is less of a board game board and more of a advanced playing mat for the game.  It also can be used with Pittsburgh 68 with the extra cards supplied in the game.

In conclusion,  it is a very interesting and fun game with lots of back and forth between each player and the director.  There are a wide variety of event cards to break of the combat and quite a few challenges the players and the director face as time goes on.  I would imagine with a full compliment of players, this game might take longer but it still could be amazingly fun.  There is a lot that goes on in the game, so every game is different.  This gives it a lot of replay-ability value.  Where Pittsburgh 68 seemed to have a lack of “winner’ in the overall game play, this game adds enough elements to have a satisfying ending.

For more details on Gamewick Games and their new Board Game Shuffling Horror: Roswell 51.  Check them out at their website, and at all of your local game stores.

Codex Rating: 18 out of 20

Product Summary

Shuffling Horror: Roswell 51

From: Gamewick Games

Type of Game: B0ard Game

Game Design & Written by: Larry Wickman

Art by: Ben Crenshaw, Mike Saputo, Donald David, Stephen Blickenstaff

Number of Pages: 21

Game Components Included: The Roswell 51 Movie Deck (56 cards), The Shuffling Horror Shuffle Board (20 x 30 inch deluxe gameboard), (54) Spoint tokens (Survivor Points), (8) Sanctuary tokens, (4) Reel tokens. (4) Dynamite tokens, (1) Fade Out token, (1) Fade In token, (1) Rulebook (with intro and advance rules), (4) Rule Cue Cards. (2) Endgame Cards. (4) Dice, Plus bonus Pittsburgh 68 cards and tokens!

Retail Price: $39.99(US)

Number of Players: For 3 – 13 players (recommend 3-6 players for initial play)

Player Ages:  Ages 14+

Playing Time: 75 minutes