Monday, October 26, 2015

Mall of Horror

One of the very first board games I went out and bought when I decided to get serious about board games (which is, admittedly, a weird thing to get "serious" about) was a small game created by Asmodee.  It was in the clearance bin for 25% off, but I snatched it up and bought it without a second thought.

The game is a mixture of horror and strategy as you try to not only figure out your own moves, but also everybody else's moves.  Alliances can be formed and broken in minutes, and eventually you know you'll have to stab an ally in the back and sacrifice them to the zombie horde.

It's quite simply put the second most terrifying game to take place in a mall setting.

There's nothing scarier than fiscal irresponsibility.
This is Mall of Horror.

The players control multiple "characters" each worth a certain number of points.  There are different groups of people based on the common types of people who regularly hang out at malls, like gang members, high school students, cops, and rednecks.

Cops being renowned for keeping little girl officers on duty in case things get ugly at Build-A-Bear.
All of the characters move through six areas of the mall, including such highlights as "bathroom" and and "Cachou," a "sexy clothing" boutique.  Each area only has room for a certain number of people, and the number per room varies.  The supermarket allows six people.  The security room allows three.  The parking lot has room for unlimited people, but it's a zombie apocalypse, people.  It's never a smart idea to hang out in the parking lot.

Characters are distributed via dice rolls through the various rooms at the beginning,  Four zombies are then placed at random in the mall, once again using dice to pick the location.  Throughout the game, players can search a truck outside in the parking lot for weapons and supplies, vote to elect the current chief of security, move a character, and then battle zombies.  More zombies will arrive during these phases, and the number of characters in each area will determine if the zombies can break in and attack.  If there are more zombies than characters, they get in.

Characters have different abilities, though.  "Tough guys" are worth two people when determining how many zombies can be kept out.  The guy with the gun gets two votes during any of the votes (such as who has to search the truck in the parking lot for goods or who gets to be the chief of security).

When the zombies attack, this is where the betrayal comes into play.  The characters, being wise to the ways of zombies, immediately hold a vote to see who gets sacrificed to the zombie horde.  After all, once the zombies eat someone, they just go away, right?  Right.

Any room where the zombies break in needs to vote to decide who gets sacrificed.  Of course, if one player has three of their characters in the room and another player only has one character, it should be pretty obvious who's going to get sacrificed.  The guy with the gun gets two votes here, too.

There are cards that allow you to modify combat.  Weapons kill zombies, thus making it easier to defend against them.  Hardware reinforces doors so it requires more zombies to break through.  "Hidden" simply states that one of your characters hides this round in that room.  They don't get to take part in the vote, but they can't be voted for, either.

Very quickly it becomes a matter of forming groups together, vying for power in each room, and trying to make sure your alliances last long enough for every other player to be sacrificed first.  At the end of the game (either all the survivors fit in one room or there's only a certain number of survivors left), the players with characters remaining add up the point values of their characters to determine who wins (strangely enough the hot blond girl has rules in the game stating that she's screaming the whole time, whichever room has the most in it attracts extra zombies, so she's worth 7 points if you keep her alive).

The game is an absolute blast to play, and there are different strategies depending on how many characters you have alive.  You might want to search the truck often early on for cards and risk losing characters faster if they're trapped in the parking lot when zombies arrive.  You might want to just keep your crew together in a large room so that if anybody else comes in there they're immediately outnumbered.  You might start wheeling and dealing with other players to form alliances, or you might position yourself to sabotage everybody.

The game isn't easy to find, but if anybody wants to try it, just let me know!  I'll bring it over if you have a few more players, and we'll give it a go.

No comments: