Monday, 2 January 2017

The Crow Fire it up board game unboxing and review from upper deck entertainment

Way back in time, in 1994 the film the Crow was released.  It then went on to become a cult classic, and spawn some truly sad Halloween costumes.  It had an epic sound track though with the likes of Nine Inch nails, and Helmet. I liked the film though, I cant say I have seen it recently, well probably the late 90s at least, but I still recall the plot, and I'm sure most people who have seen it do too.

Devils Night in Motor City....
It’s a night of fire and mayhem. Exactly one year ago, a group of cold-hearted gangsters murdered an innocent couple the night before their wedding day. They’ve continued to live their carefree lives of evil, but little do they know an avenging angel has arrived in the city. This Devil’s Night, as they terrorize and burn the city, they are being hunted down, one at a time, by a force of righteous vengeance.

The Crow: Fire It Up! is a board game with two very different sides:
The Motor City Gang player(s) use their gang of Street Demons (T-Bird, Funboy, Tin Tin, and Skank) and Lieutenants (Myca and Grange) to burn buildings and cause havoc around the City, as they work to achieve a secret Objective. Their boss, Top Dollar, waits patiently in his home/office/bar/club – the Pit – until he is needed.
The Crow player uses Eric Draven, The Crow, Officer Albrecht, and Sarah to move around the City, protecting buildings and hunting down the four Street Demons who murdered Eric and his fiancée. But Eric is compelled to kill them in a particular order, and only then can he confront the architect of his misery: Top Dollar.
The game is played in a series of turns starting with the Motor City Gang. Players spend Actions moving around the City, Attacking opponents, or setting Fires (Gang). Plot Cards add a twist to the game as its being played. These cards can be gained by either burning down buildings (Gang) or killing Gang members (The Crow). The Gang must burn down a specific set of buildings detailed on their Objective card before the Crow player works his way through his Death List killing the Street Demons and ultimately Top Dollar.
With the double-sided neighborhood boards, 15 different Objective cards, and a randomized Death List players won’t be experiencing the same game twice.
 lets pop it open and take a closer look and see what we get in the game.

There is actually quite a chunk of goodies inside the box, cards custom dice, thick double sided playing boards and a large but very easy to follow rulebook.  There are some tokens you will need to punch out, but the cardstock used for those and the boards are nice quality.
The game is for two players really, one as the crow, and one as the gang, and each player will get their own board giving a list of actions you can perform, such as move, try to set fire, fight, and so on.  The Crow actions are similar but the gang move on the street, and Eric and the crow move on rooftops adding another level of challenge.  The board is not divided into squares, so how does movement work? well each character has a movement value, and that's the amount of "streets" it can move, so bypassing crossing etc, it took a while to get used to thinking like it, but once I did it wasn't a problem, and was a different way to look at movement in a game.
All actions from setting fire to building to combat are based on die rolls, and each player has this handy little card punch out of what the symbols mean.   The attacker first rolls their attack dice, and any matching pairs of dice count as an attack. The defender must roll one symbol matching the attacker’s pair to defend against it.  You can then have different effects depending on what it was that you rolled, and which side rolled it.  This does allow for a lot of variety for attacks, but it doesn't feel too tactical just rolling for doubles, there are no modifiers you can use to help get those results, so it feels a bit random.
Surprisingly for a company most well known for their card games, the cards where a bit of a disappointment, the art was bland, and very samey, feeling a bit like a poor 90s point and click adventure PC game, so I suppose at least the theme of the right decade was on, also the quality of the cards wasn't great, a little flimsy and thin feeling compared to other companies. There a re a lot of cards though, from random objectives, to the characters and locations so I do feel these could have been improved at least in quality of feel.
The Crow player gets one set of cards to draw from when killing an enemy, and the gang another deck, they do have cool movie quotes on them but, but are so bland, and pretty hard to distinguish from each other.... its a real pity.

The board though IS good quality, and goes together nicely, being double sided it allows some options for variety for replay.

A nice pair of flames needed to start burning down these buildings! with mixed and varied secret objectives for the gang there is a lot of replay in there, even if most of them revolve around burning certain things down, but then that's the limit of what they did in the film, so they are forced to keep that in story.  The crow player must kill the gang members in a certain order, decided by drawing randomly from some tokens, im not a fan of this to be honest, as you can not go after other members until you have killed that one, so even if one is sat next top you.. sorry I can not fight you! no... not a fan of that, thematic as it is to the film.  Plus when the gang player figures out who you are after, its easy for them to pull him out the way and get him surrounded by other members of the gang.

With the standees on the board it looks nice, and starts bringing some colour to the background, and I do like leaving the burning crow images after taking out a gang member, but as a whole th game has has a number of issues that stop it being a great, or even good game, and push it into a mediocre experience....  Its frustrating you can only target certain game members, and some things like Gideon the pawnbroker coming out and the boss are scripted to happen at certain times.  The fact Eric cant be killed, only put the graveyard when he runs out of health until Top dollar appears, it just feels a bit like, why waste my time doing that, he will just be back in a turn or two, and I've got to concentrate on rolling doubles to burn things down.  Even with different objectives and board layout, I am not sure there is a huge amount of replayability in the game.  So all in all... the card below sums it up......
Now don't get me wrong, its not a terrible game, its just.... OK... and that sadly is quite damming of it when it comes in at £49.99, its a lot of money for an OK game, that does not have a huge amount of replay in the box, and frankly, will probably only appeal to fans of the original Crow movie.  If you are a fan though, you will get some kicks out of this, stick the soundtrack on, bring it out, overlook the "what could have beens" and enjoy it for what it is, even if you only play it once every Devils Night.
If you want to grab your own copy, head on over to your local game store and grab it, you may just enjoy it

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