Playing a player elimination game has one of two outcomes. You'll play it again and again or you'll never touch it. Being out hints at doing nothing, being out and missing the action. Of course that's not the case, but it's a preconceived idea of many. It also prevents them from accessing some top quality games: King of Tokyo, Nemesis, Werewolf... the list is endless and each game is incredibly unique! Recently we've had the chance to try out an expansion to the player elimination game Beasts Edge of Extinction: Revenge of the Dodo by Riftway Games. This is an expansion that gives those eliminated players a life line and a new lease of life... and even scope to still win!
Revenge of the Dodo changes the game from 2-6 to 3-6 players but does not change game play time. The game of Beasts Edge of Extinction still plays the same and requires the same result - be the last beast standing. Revenge of the Dodo adds something more for those who aren't the last standing. Those who fall suddenly get a new lease of life and are able to do things to manipulate the game. They introduce a variety of new Dodos who do a variety of things... all of which are detrimental to the survivors.
When you're eliminated, you become a Revenge player. You lose your character card and resource cards, but keep your Lure cards (you can still hurt other players in this way!). You draw two revenge cards and shuffle the Zombie Dodo into the resource deck. That's it! It adds little downtime with its introduction and gives a new lease of life to the players who become extinct. On a Revenge players turn, they can only take one action instead of the usual two. They can draw a revenge card, attack a player (with no buffs of course), or play a revenge or lure card on a beast player. Should all revenge cards be exhausted from the deck, shuffle them and continue as necessary. If the Revenge players eliminate both both Beast players at the same time, the Revenge players win!
How It Handles
Revenge of the Dodo adds something to Beasts Edge of Extinction which increases its appeal. No longer is the eliminated player out, but now they're out... for revenge! All Revenge players are effectively on a team, meaning that you'll all win if you end the Beast players simultaneously. This suddenly adds a heavy level of cooperation into the game, and we even went as far as to craftily show a card or two to other revengers.
We always find in games with take-that you can't target just one player. It's an unwritten rule. If you go for just one player in an unjust manner, you're likely to ruin their experience. Games are supposed to be enjoyed by all, winner or loser, and cornering a player into elimination won't enhance anyone's experiences. In Revenge do the Dodo, it's not the same. You'll never feel guilty for your underhanded revenge tactics. Something about knowing you were taken out gives more warrant to play underhandedly. It doesn't matter who the culprit was, they deserve it. The thing is that you can't just target them wildly, as you need a simultaneous kill. You've got to be tactical and play a numbers game of "who's got the most health" and "how can we level the player field for a big hit?".
Will the Fighting Ever End!?
Beasts Edge of Extinction ran on a hit points (HP) system - you run out of HP and you're out! It was important to heal up as needed, and healing items were plentiful, so sometimes a clever player could go from low to high HP quickly. The game never lasted too long, but being eliminated early meant watching for longer than wanted. Revenge of the Dodo makes it so that the game will end sooner than in the core game, but also so that no one is sat twiddling their thumbs. The simple idea that Revenge players will be sending waves of warped Dodos to the surviving beasts means the Beasts will be on an uphill climb to heal... and more Revenge players mean the downhill tumble of HP and will undeniably cause panic.
On the Raw End
Being a Revenge player sounds lots of fun and has lots of opportunities within it. You're out, but you can joint win. Sadly, I'm too competitive in take-that games to share a win. And that's okay, but it took me a lot of getting used to. Coordinating our strikes was a skill in itself, particularly when you're also trying to time the simultaneous kill! Each Dodo does something different and isn't always pure damage, and sometimes being a hindrance is more suited to the situation than going for the jugular.
So what's it like being against the other beasts and a growing community of ravenous Dodos? Difficult. No longer can you heal, you now need to act. Upgrades will be as on the fly as you can imagine and won't necessarily be planned for. What will be planned for will be the number of massive attacks you'll be wanting to make against the clock. The clock of course is the number of Revenge players throwing lures and revenge cards at you. It's incredibly difficult, but even more rewarding. So long as you remember it's still a free-for-all, you won't get lost in it all.
The Colour of Revenge
Beasts Edge of Extinction already was gorgeously illustrated and ran an almost comic like art style. It was gorgeous, it popped, and it was inviting. Every element of it screamed fun combat and competitive beat downs. Revenge of the Dodo naturally follows this theme, but centred wholly around the Dodos, because.. well.. every card is a variant of the flightless, beaked terror. The Dodos fit the theme of their names and are illustrated accordingly. We ruined the surprise by looking through every card first but it resulted in a good laugh. When we then played with new players they got that chuckle with every play, which was far more rewarding.
Revenge of the Dodo adds to Beasts Edge of Extinction a few things. A removal of the terrifying player elimination element which puts many players off. An element of cooperation for Revenge players. And a superb element of play. We very much enjoyed Revenge of the Dodo and found it to be an excellent example of how a game can be enhanced without a massive overhaul. A lovely addition to a game that's quickly becoming one of our favourite take that games. Keep an eye out for the Kickstarter later in the year!