Ever have had one of those days? You know, where it’s the summer of 1968 and you’ve been sent deep into the Vietnamese jungle on a top priority US military mission to track down your Colonel from behind enemy lines. One of those days where the intel that headquarters have given you is terrible so you aren’t sure where to start and will need to track the Colonel down. One of those days where as the sun starts setting, you see dark and predatory shapes appear, rushing out of the jungle towards you.
One of those days where horrified, it dawns on you that these shapes aren’t people but Werewolves, and this jungle is going to eat you alive. One of those absolutely, totally typical days where you’ve been fighting all night, you’re out of ammo and you’re screaming, screaming at the top of your lungs as you fight them off with a knife. One of those days when you hear it, the sound of salvation, the spinning blades of a rescue helicopter in the distance but your team are falling around you and you just aren’t sure if you can hold on until it arrives. One of those… well, you get the idea, we’ve all been there.
Coming to Kickstarter on October 26, Full Moon Jacket by Strangely Games (1-6 players/ 45-120 mins) is a co-operative squad based game where you are trying to find your colonel, gather items, craft equipment and survive until the evacuation helicopter arrives to take him and whoever else survives safely home.
The game board is made up of a randomly generated map, created from six double-sided tile boards with a variety of different terrain, sculpted miniatures represent all the units and the gameplay crosses resource management with dice rolling combat which is a satisfyingly straight-forward punchy affair.
Full Moon Jacket - The Game
You’ll be playing as a distinct set of military characters, from a Scout able to move greater distances around the map, to a Sergeant who reduces the ammo usage of those close to him. These characters all have their own separate abilities and by using their strengths you’ll give yourself the best chance of succeeding.
Abilities range from passive skills (like those mentioned above) which automatically trigger each turn to special actions that can only be used once per game. Think of these actions like the key moments from a movie, that part where the demolition guy runs right into the werewolves den with a bag full explosives, throwing them all around him and blowing it sky high.
Each character has two actions per turn, which could be movement, using items (like grenades or reloading weapons), crafting items or carrying injured characters. Oh that’s right, I haven’t mentioned yet, you only start with two health and if you get injured your actions fall to just one.
Full Moon Jacket starts with a few key locations highlighted on your map. One of them is the Colonel but the others can be enemy spawns. Once you find the Colonel you’ll be stuck with him and like all those characters from video game escort missions, he’s total and complete rubbish. Pick up a gun, man! Fight back! As such he can’t move on his own or defend himself, so you’ll need to spend actions to move him around the map. Luckily the medic can do this as his free action so you’ll need him to be close by. If left alone he can quickly be overcome by the werewolves and whilst player elimination is allowed, losing the Colonel means instant failure for your mission.
Rounds are dictated by event cards and depending on the game mode you’ll be playing through around 6-12 of these. Event cards are the engine of the game and each one dictates key things such as supply drops, the amount of new werewolf spawns, how many werewolves are added and how tough the werewolves will be this round. The supply drops and enemy spawns are added randomly to the map using dice which means although you’ll find safe spaces at times you’re never really quite comfortable on the map.
Your position might be secure for now, but next round it could suddenly become infested with werewolves, the board filling up with more and more angry looking little miniatures, looking to bite you where it hurts most.
Speaking of the map, Full Moon Jacket has a variety of different terrain. This terrain can restrict movement (bridges, rivers, buildings) but can also block your line of sight, preventing you from shooting an enemy at a distance. Get yourself into a position that's surrounded by jungle or cornered in a house and you won’t be able to shoot the werewolves until they’re upon you, giving certain areas of each layout claustrophobic and dangerous feels.
Once positioned on the map, the werewolves have very straightforward AI. During their phases they will be moving towards the nearest possible enemy (or in a tie, the largest group) and if they do reach you, and aren’t dealt with, they inflict instant damage to your team in a brutal show of strength.
The simplicity of their movement is a positive in a game of crowd control and allows you to try and plan or manipulate their movement. You can use team members to split the werewolves up, or lead them through narrow passageways creating key spaces for an ambush, but more than anything it gives the werewolves a sort of mindlessly relentless feel, like they're ripped straight out of an 80's horror movie.
Killing the Wolves
Killing a werewolf is as simple as rolling their strength (or higher) on a dice and the tougher and greater number of enemies you’ll be dealing with, the more dice you’ll want to be rolling. You’ll need to be careful though as each dice used consumes an ammo token.
Larger weapons like a machine gun use more dice when fired, which is great when facing large packs, but as ammo is scarce in this game you’ll need to play smart. Often you’ll want to balance out to ensure you kill werewolves, over when you can take chances in trying to slowly pick them off with smaller weapons like a pistol or even a knife to conserve ammo.
Weapons also feature additional perks, like an extra dice if you roll a six when used in close range combat (ie. the shotgun) or head shots by rolling a two or higher with a sniper rifle. This gives each weapon a distinctive feel that makes sense and you’ll look to position the soldiers in appropriate positions based on their firepower.
Full Moon Jacket has a few different variants, from the quick rush of arcade mode to the longer survival or hardcore modes. The general core of the game stays the same throughout these different modes, however, the longer modes bring in aspects such as scavenging and crafting of items.
The randomised elements like the map, placement of enemies, and ammo dumps will keep the game changing with each play so I can see a lot of replay value here. You can also set the difficulty through the event deck, giving it plenty of flexibility for the brave among you to increase the intensity of your fight.
I was lucky enough to play the arcade mode on a prototype version of Full Moon Jacket (thus why this is a preview rather than a review), so although I can’t talk too much about the finished miniatures or all aspects of the game what I did see worked well, with solid mechanics built around a very present theme.
The most pleasing aspect of this game for me was how fast the tension built at different stages of the game, drama always around the corner and your choices having very immediate effects. The simple game mechanics mean this isn’t for those seeking deep strategy thrills and if winning or losing a game because of a roll of the dice turns you off then this isn’t for you.
However, if the idea of a fun pick up and play game that let’s you create your own trashy action movie sounds like your thing I can happily recommend Full Moon Jacket.
Full Moon Jacket from Strangely Games will be on Kickstarter from October 26, 2017.