The Grizzled

RRP: £24.99
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RRP £24.99
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The Grizzled is a cooperative game about survival in the trenches during the first World War where players win or lose together. Each round, the current team leader will choose how many cards every player draws. Then, going around the table, players must either play a card in their hand or back out of the mission. Each card represents either threats to the team (such as mortar shell…
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Category Tags , , , SKU ZBG-CMNGRZ0001 Availability 3+ in stock
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Awards

Value For Money

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • It’s war. It won’t be for everyone. But it deals with it in a sensitive way.
  • Winning feels great. You fully earn your victories.
  • There is a real puzzle to unwrap here.

Might Not Like

  • It can be hard to win. And loses can be seen coming for a few turns.
  • It can be brutal. A lot of cards hurt you.
  • Sometimes your only options it to do a bad thing.
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Description

The Grizzled is a cooperative game about survival in the trenches during the first World War where players win or lose together.

Each round, the current team leader will choose how many cards every player draws. Then, going around the table, players must either play a card in their hand or back out of the mission. Each card represents either threats to the team (such as mortar shells and weather conditions) or negative personality traits (such as frightened or obsessive). At the end of the round, more cards are added to the draw deck. The game ends only if the players can deplete the draw deck as well as their hands without letting time run out.

If one threat shows up too many times, the team fails the mission. The team must play their threats correctly in order to gain any progress. However, most of the information in a players hand remains secret throughout the game.

Planning, teamwork, and a little luck are the tools you'll need to win this cooperative game for two to five players.

Welcome to The Grizzled… War is a sensitive subject in any form of media. For the seemingly trivial matter of a small box card game, it could have been quite easy for this game to overlook the enormous subject matter it was tackling. However, it doesn’t. In a simple yet beautiful manner, it restores the humanity to this massive topic. It focuses on the friendships, camaraderie, and relationships that formed during this harrowing period, sustaining those involved each day. These bonds provided hope for all those people and the brotherhoods that helped them endure.

The game was created by a group of individuals whose ancestors fought in The Great War. This game was crafted to honour their memory. On the front cover of the box, you can see the soldiers you’ll play as in the game, some of whom are based on the designers’ grandparents. The rule book features a subtle drawing depicting these same men outside of war, presumably as friends before the war, going about their daily lives, unaware of the horrors about to befall them. This drawing is a touching and subtle reminder of this game’s gentle treatment of this terrible era in history.

The Grizzled is all about enduring. You don’t win a war, and you don’t “win” this game. You endure it. And if you can endure it as a group, you can find success and victory, and yes, technically win the game. However, it doesn’t feel that way. It feels fitting and in line with the game’s theme. So, on those rare occasions when you do triumph in this game, it’s not just a victory; it’s a celebration of survival. The game’s conclusion somewhat resembles The Mind to me. The challenging journey makes reaching the destination even more satisfying. This feeling is heightened by the fact that you accomplished it with your friends and family.

The Teach

Learning and teaching The Grizzled is remarkably simple. So much so that I’ll attempt to explain the game in the next five paragraphs. Convenient, isn’t it? In the game, there are 57 trial cards. During setup, 25 are placed face up on the Dove card, and the remaining cards on the face up Statue card. These two decks are placed in the centre of the player area, and your group’s task is to get through the 25 cards on the Dove card before the rest on the Statue card.

Each round, one player is designated as the Mission Leader. Their responsibility is to decide how many cards will be drawn from the Dove pile for distribution as equally as possible, starting with themselves. In a three-player game, if seven cards are chosen, for example, the Mission Leader will receive three cards, and the other two players will get two each. However, you can choose as few or as many as you dare. Picking many cards is advantageous, as you aim to progress through the Dove deck to win. But taking too many can increase the chances of failure.

Starting with the Mission Leader in The Grizzled, players will then execute one of four actions in sequence until the mission either succeeds or fails. The primary action is to play a card from their hand in front of them if it’s a Hard Knock card (the ones with the red lightning symbol), or to place it into a central shared play area for any other card. The Hard Knock cards usually introduce rule changes that make things significantly tougher, forcing players into undesired actions. It’s reminiscent of the hardships of war. Cards played in the centre will display one or more symbols and/or weather conditions. There are six in total: Rain, Snow, Night, Gas Mask, Whistle, and Bullet. If three or more of any of these symbols are present in the central area, the mission fails. Your other options include using your player-specific lucky charm. This requires flipping your player card and removing a matching symbol card from the central row. You can also play a Speech token (obtained when rounds end and the Mission Leader marker is passed). This token allows the player who plays it to choose a symbol, announce it, and then all players with that card can discard it. The final option is to withdraw. If you can’t or don’t want to play a card, withdrawing to the safety of the trenches might be the right move. However, this means you’ll finish the mission with cards in hand, which doesn’t help.

After the mission ends, if you fail, all cards are shuffled back into the Dove deck, and the players must try again without removing cards from the game. If the mission succeeds, all played cards are removed from the game. Players then move to the Support phase where they use one of their three support tokens. At the beginning of the game, one token points to the player on their right, another to the left, and the third is randomly assigned. Players make their selections without discussion, aiming for a majority decision. If a majority isn’t achieved, nothing happens. However, if a majority is reached, the player with the majority support, with their friends’ assistance, can remove one or two Hard Knock cards in front of them or flip their player card to reveal their lucky charm again.

The round concludes with the team’s morale dropping. This entails transferring cards from the Statue pile to the Dove pile. At least three cards must be moved each round, meaning the Dove pile grows if you don’t clear at least three cards. More cards might be added if players were left with cards in hand due to withdrawing or the mission failing before they played all their cards.

The Conclusion

There you have it, explained in five paragraphs. The game is easy to learn, teach, and play, but it feels challenging while playing due to the nature of every card being unfavourable. Well, almost every card; there’s one good card. There’s a Hard Knock card that lets you remove another Hard Knock card – the Christmas Day card. However, it rarely comes up. The rest are all detrimental. You’re consistently faced with choosing the card with the least negative impact in the current situation. It’s gruelling. Players will sometimes make choices that might puzzle you. While it’s a cooperative game, you can’t discuss your hand or offer advice. Plus, one Hard Knock card forces complete silence. However, when a player plays a particularly unfavourable card – one that you can’t fathom – it’s likely the other options were even worse. The game incorporates clever mechanics that lead to these situations occurring more frequently, which enhances the value of the rare victories. These are instances when players must play their entire hand no matter what, with no option to withdraw. This compels players to push missions to failure – a stark reminder that war is never easy.

There’s no denying that playing The Grizzled can be tense at times. Winning can be challenging, especially with new players, and the game can feel like a genuine struggle. Yet, great victories arise from significant hardships. For me, the payoff is rewarding. However, I also find enjoyment in the journey itself. The tension created by the game’s mechanics adds to its appeal. The balance between the number of cards you need to complete and the number you can manage to complete is just right. You can adjust this balance as your group improves and add more cards to start with. Less can be added for a two-player game. Therefore, the scaling for player count and ability maintains a Goldilocks level of tension throughout.

That concludes our thoughts on The Grizzled. Do you agree? Let us know your thoughts and tag us on social media @zatugames. To buy The Grizzled today click here!

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Its war. It wont be for everyone. But it deals with it in a sensitive way.
  • Winning feels great. You fully earn your victories.
  • There is a real puzzle to unwrap here.

Might not like

  • It can be hard to win. And loses can be seen coming for a few turns.
  • It can be brutal. A lot of cards hurt you.
  • Sometimes your only options it to do a bad thing.