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3 New Games to Help You Survive the New Year

Well my dearies, we made it. A bit grizzled, slightly traumatized, and I personally noticed a bit of a tremor in my hand while taking my first sip of coffee this morning. But we made it! 2022 is at last behind us. 

I imagine that, like me, you’re staring at the unfamiliar landscape of 2022 with a bit of trepidation and lowered expectations. After all, 2021 was supposed to be the return to normalcy, and yet here we are. Who knows what could be lurking in 2022? Personally, my money’s on self-driving cars and the singularity, though I’ve also been stockpiling harpoons in case my “plague squids” theory comes to pass. But for those of you less prepared than I, this week’s games are here to hone those survival skills and get you prepared for whatever 2022 brings. And what better way to teach you survival lessons than with the help of everyone’s favorite cautionary tale: dinosaurs.

Dino Dodge – Kickstarter

Trademarks and visuals belong to their rightful owners.

Huge and mighty as they were, dinosaurs let themselves get complacent. They spent all of their time chewing on leaves and each other when what they should have been doing is learning about rocket propulsion to divert incoming asteroids. In Dino Dodge, you get to rectify this (minus the rockets). 

Dino Dodge comes to us from Blue Gear Games (Knights of Glory) who specialize in simple, fast, high-intensity games. In this latest release, 2 to 5 players dodge around a board trying to not get squished by meteors. Even if it means shoving your opponent into harm’s way.

Those are some cute dinosaurs ya got there. Be a real shame if they exploded in a fiery cataclysm.
Trademarks and visuals belong to their rightful owners.

For anyone who remembers Boom-o, this game has a very similar feel. At the beginning of each turn, the active player places a meteor above one of the Land Cards which make up the board. Each meteor has a rotating timer counting down to impact when it will squash any and all dinosaurs underneath it into Jurassic jelly. The active player can use Action Cards to dodge out of the way of meteors, but playing nice will only get you so far. Remember, this game is here to teach YOU how to survive. And sometimes that means making hard decisions. Like pushing your friends into the path of an oncoming meteor or diverting said meteor away from you and towards your “friend”. However, this is a game where the fittest survive, and other players can use their Action Cards to thwart your plans.

Only the strong survive.
Trademarks and visuals belong to their rightful owners.

Should you find yourself under a crashing meteor, all hope is not lost. You may still draw an Action Card and possibly save yourself. However, every time a meteor lands, it leaves behind a sea of fiery lava. Active players who end their turn on a lava land are automatically defeated. Anyone caught on lava when a meteor collides is in double-trouble and so must use 2 of the same Action Card if they want to save themselves. So play smart, plan ahead, and don’t go extinct.

Run For Your Life – Kickstarter

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Known originally for their 1940s themed live escape rooms,  Run For Your Life publisher Escape Plane Ltd now has a game publishing arm that focuses on some very unique games of social deduction and “Take that”. They premiered with Stop the Train in which players have to, yep, stop a train from crashing into the Paris Station. The only problem is that 2 of the players have a vested interest in seeing the train crash. Over the course of the game, players will play cards to adjust the train’s speed, achieve their secret character agenda, or steal travel permits from other players. They also have to contend with tight curves, steep hills, and dark tunnels where anything can happen. And of course, looming at the end of the track, is the Paris Station. If players pay close enough attention to discover a saboteur, they can have an emergency meeting to throw them off the train and stop it from crashing.

Paris Station is in le danger.
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In their second game, Hit the Silk, players are desperate criminals trying to rob an airplane. Only problem is that the pilot has shot out the engine and bailed out, leaving the now understandably frantic criminals to find the loot and parachutes before the plane hits the ground. But bail out before you find enough cash, and leg-breaking debt collectors will be waiting for you on the ground. To get out with money and a ‘chute, you must share, bluff, threaten, attack, and handcuff other players until you’ve got what you need. Once the majority of players have what they need, they can call a vote to bail out, leaving their partners-in-crime to a fiery end.

Lotta handcuffs. Makes you wonder what was going on in this plane pre-heist.
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The latest installment in the “How Many People Can You Make Hate You” trilogy is Run For Your Life. While still in early testing, we do have a few clues as to what this game is all about. For starters, the game is saying goodbye to diesel and steam and hello to teeth and claws because again, dinosaurs. This time you are an explorer laden with precious gems trying to get your haul out of the jungle while avoiding a rampaging dinosaur. They wouldn’t be so difficult to escape normally, but those precious gems are weighing you down. As I said, the rules are spares, but I do know that the game uses push-your-luck mechanics, likely around the aforementioned gems. The more items in your pack, the slower you move, so how many gems can you make it out with and not get eaten? You also have item cards that are useful but can slow you down, and other players can slip heavy objects into your pack to further slow you down. So plan ahead, but be flexible.

“Run, run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me, I’m -”
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Escape Plan has taken this lesson to heart. As a company, they’re thinking about survival in the long term by focusing on producing eco-friendly games. Among their environmental goals is the commitment to use recycled materials in game components, contract with manufacturers who use predominately renewable energy, and to avoid plastic wherever possible. Determination and out-of-the-box thinking, the hallmarks of a true survivor.

Jurassic World: The Legacy of Isla Nublar –  Kickstarter March 2022

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When Michael Crichton wrote Jurassic Park, he gave us not only one of the most influential sci-fi novels ever written but also a 400+ page list of survival nonexamples. If you’ve ever watched one of the movies, you undoubtedly found yourself shaking your head at the poor decision-making skills on full display.  So if you learn nothing else from this week’s article, just remember that cloning dinosaurs is a terrible, terrible idea. Many people remember Dr. Ian Malcolm’s famous “Life finds a way” quote. But almost no one knows that the full quote was intended to be, “Life finds a way…to eat you.” But fortunately, we will be given the chance to avoid all of the mistakes made by Jurassic Park’s original creators in this new legacy game from Funko Games. 

According to lead designer Dexter Stevens, Jurassic Park is the perfect fit for a legacy game because it is a legacy in and of itself starting with Jurassic Park and continuing into Jurassic World. And this is exactly how this 2 to 4 player legacy game plays out over its 11 scenarios.

Clearly Funko spared no expense. 
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Before we go any further, I just want to call attention to the pulp-comic design of each scenario booklet because it’s perfect. The first scenario starts you off with some of the original characters like Robert Muldoon, John Hammond, and Henry Wu trying to restore order to the park. From there, though, players will make changes to the island and its inhabitants that, because it’s a legacy game, will almost certainly come back to bite you in the ass. Possibly quite literally.

Who knew Isla Nublar had such strict zoning laws?
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As play continues, you can unlock up to 21 playable characters and 12 different species of dinosaurs. So far, Funko has been pretty tight-lipped about just who and what the game will include, but here’s what we do know. Confirmed playable characters so far include many old fan favorites like John Hammond, Dr. Henry Wu, Robert Muldoon, Ellie Sattler, and Ian Malcolm. While I haven’t seen anything on Alan Grant, we can assume he’ll be in there as well. There are also some big names from the Jurassic World series like Claire Dearing and possibly the world’s worst pilot, Simon Masrani. Which means it’s probably a safe bet we’ll see Owen Grady as well. There’s also deep-dive character Gerry Harding, the vet seen treating the stegosaurus/triceratops, and completely original character Alejandra Solano the park planner. Keep in mind, though, that horrific injuries are just part of the job when working with dinosaurs, and your characters might not come out of each chapter wholly intact. So just like the park’s dinosaurs, you’ll have to evolve and adapt. As for the dinosaurs, only the T-rex, velociraptors, triceratops, and brachiosaurus have been confirmed with Funko being purposely taciturn on the subject. Probably don’t want their secrets being poached by Biosyn. Again.

by Zane Messina

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