The skeletons are coming and there is nothing you can do to stop them. Your only hope is that you last longer than your opponents. It is a battle for survival.
Sit Down! always make simple, yet frantic games and Bad Bones is no exception. Your board is clearing in a forest with a guard tower and a small village. With each turn, skeletons come out of the trees, intending to destroy the peace in your hamlet. With the help of your hero, various traps and your pet dragon, you need to fend off these creatures. But there is no real way to stop them.
Gradually, your board gets overrun by skeletons and you need to start making sacrifices. Do you let them attack the village or destroy the guard tower? The skeletons never stop, so you are never going to defeat them. But you can send them to attack your opponent’s villages…
The chaos really ensues when everyone turns on each other. Each turn 3 more skeletons are added to your village unless someone has catapulted a plethora of skeletons at you. Which will happen pretty much every turn. So very soon, you will have more dead than living people in your village.
The gameplay itself is very simple. It is broken up into four sections:
- Hero Movement
Your hero can move once in any direction. They can defeat skeletons by simply existing in the same space, so the Hero Movement phase is vital. You can get rid of skeletons that are already there, and pre-empt their next move.
- Trap Placement
You can either place or retrieve one trap every turn. They get rid of the skeletons, but can only be used once. If a skeleton touches a trap that has already been used, you lose it, forever. There are far too many traps to explain here, but each has its own effect. My favourite is the catapult that sends skeletons to the other players. Seeing as it is a game of survival of the fittest, it is an effective tactic to launch as many skeletons at them as possible.
- Skeletons Move
Each skeleton has an arrow to show what direction they move in. They move forward one space each round. Simple. But so overwhelming.
- Skeletons Spawn
Add three skeletons to the each of the board along with any skeletons that your sneaky opponents have sent your way. This is where the game gets chaotic. At least you can see where they are going to be next time.
You need to outlast your opponents, but there are two different ways to be eliminated. You are out when you don’t have any houses left in your village or your guard tower has been destroyed. This happens when a skeleton comes into contact with them. So the more skeletons on your board, the more likely it is that you will lose. This is why it is best to send as many skeletons at your opponents as you can.
Once one person has been eliminated, it is the person with the most points who wins. Points come from having villagers, towers and traps left. Manage your resources well while wiping out your opponents!
One of the things I like about Bad Bones is that you get three games in one. There is a basic game that is detailed above, but you can also play an advanced version or even co-operative. Personally, I like the chaos of trying to take out your opponents, but sometimes people want to work together.
In the co-operative game, you are all trying to protect the village in the centre of the board, instead of your own personal one. Rather than being the last person standing, you are aiming to survive 10 rounds of play. Not as easy as it sounds… You have to share all your traps, so you have a limited supply that needs to be utilised carefully. Rather than being able to scupper your opponents by launching skeletons at them, the traps now fire at your teammates. Tactics become very important, very quickly.
Both the co-operative and base game have an advanced level. Instead of everyone starting with the same traps, you have a certain of money to start with and you can buy the ones that most appeal to you. The options grow too. Now you have access to bombs, labyrinths, portals, springs and, my personal favourite, the Hearse. It means that each person can play a more individual game. You can go for destructive traps or ones that fire the skeletons elsewhere. There is the option to be tactical or just go for the traps that make you laugh.
The joy of this game is the chaos that ensues. This means that you have to move quickly. It is not a game for those who suffer from analysis paralysis. It has got to keep moving to have the full impact of games like Magic Maze. It is almost more fun when you can’t keep track of what is going on. The overwhelming onslaught of skeletons is the highlight for me.
However, Sit Down! has clearly worked out that not everyone likes the feeling of being out of control. The fact that there is a co-operative variation means that there should be something for everyone in this game.
There is so much to keep track of that, despite being simple, it is surprisingly tactical. Move your hero too far from the tower and it can take too long to get back to stop it from being destroyed. Place a trap at the wrong time and it will be lost to the next swarm. The skeletons move in very predictable patterns, so you can plan ahead. But that can still go wrong if your opponents throw a spanner or skeleton in the works.
The fact that there are so many variations to this game means that it is different every time you play it. You might think you have a winning strategy, but you can never guarantee it. It is a manic game that keeps you on your toes!