28 Feb A review of Raxxon
Crowd of Fools
A Review of Raxxon
One of the fun things about games is playing around a table with someone whom you’ve played with before but who is still hesitant or skeptical about the whole board game experience. Let’s call these folks UP’s- undecided players. Or, how bout PYUPs- Participating Yet Undecided Players.
Seems like a lot of work for downtime, they might think to themselves. I don’t get it, they may offer, cynically. But, they’re trying it out anyway. They’re just not sure it’s for them.
Then it hits. It occurs to them. This is fun!
The exact combination of factors that nudged them over the enjoyment threshold is unknown. Was it the people around the table? Were they more into a storyline or a game mechanic? What clicked this time?
Raxxon, a 1-4 player cooperative card game with player action mats, has provided this a-ha! experience for a couple people I’ve played with.
Zombies are low hanging fruit as far as narrative structure. I’ve tried Zombicide, Dead of Winter, and Escape from Sunset Island. Each has benefits. Each creates a sense of a contained world, within which the zombie scourge ensues. The mechanic in these games feels virtual as you observe players be chased, cornered, or confronted.
Raxxon stands out because it attempts to convey a sense of rising pressure without the use of zombie figurines, dice, or a board to move around.
The crowd is a set of cards arranged face down in a grid. Flip an infected person or group of persons, try to get them to the quarantine pile using one of your actions. Flip an uninfected person or group of persons, try to get them to the evacuation pile using one of your actions.
Your goal, as rescuers, is to reach 20 or 30 evacuees, depending on the difficulty level you choose.
If you don’t take control of the crowd quick enough, through your actions, nightfall may come. This means the infection spreads. The quarantine piles are dispersed. When day breaks, you begin again with more of those nasties- volatiles, carriers, infected and the like.
I can’t remember the exact moment in this game when the PYUPs set aside their doubts, but I think it is when the rhythm of the game sets in. One need only work on one major objective together- evacuate, consequently the rhythms of game play are always directed to this ultimate end- flipping cards, choosing actions, setting strategy. There are twists to this plot in the form of a Raxxon event deck.
The beautifully designed illustrations, paired with the campy Raxxon company PR lines make for a pleasing and humorous game experience.
When we played, we had some chocolates we were enjoying at the same time. We rationed them, just as one might in a true zombie apocalypse. We could have 8 chocolates before ‘nightfall’, or 9 if we were having a particularly difficult day. Coincidentally, we found every day was difficult. So difficult.
The fun things about victory are that you’ve outsmarted a corporate overlord- the Raxxon corporation, in addition to digging out enough evacuees from underneath a pile of zombies.
Raxxon’s PR is a haunting presence in every aspect of the game, from its original promotional campaign, to the box itself, to some of the characters of the game, and the event deck. You are constantly fed the company’s bottom line while you also deal with the zombie outbreak of Raxxon’s doing.
If you are ok without zombie figurines, and feel that cards and beautiful illustrations can be just as pleasing, and if you are a player who appreciates some creative game mechanics, such as crowd control, that help construct a sense of a zombie crisis, try this game, and give Raxxon a run for its money. Invite along a PYUP too, see if they’ll join you in organizing a crowd of fools for their own good.