Saturday, July 20, 2013

Red November

So, you're on a submarine and suddenly all hell breaks loose! Reactors start to overheat, water starts rushing in everywhere and someone just reported seeing a kraken appear on scopes. Worse, you're all gnomes, and there's nothing you enjoy more than a bottle of grog. There's no disaster so bad that grog can't help. Well, no disaster you've survived so far. This one, however, is looking particularly bad.

Red November is a mostly co-operative game of disaster management on a rusty old submarine. You play gnomes tasked with slowing the constant assault on your metal habitat, lowering flood waters, putting out fires and repairing critical systems. A time track running around the edges of the game board, where your time tokens move to keep track of how long you've spent on your turn. Every Action takes time. some are set, such as opening a door or moving through a flooded room, while other Actions allow you to decide how many valuable minutes you'd like to expend on them, like repairing, or fighting fires. If one of the three disaster tracks fills up before everyone makes it to the end, then everyone dies. Also, that kraken can eat you too. Many ways to die, only one way to win. Man! Co-op games!

I did say "mostly" co-operative, though. In the closing turns, a gnome holding the Aqualung item can chose to abandon ship and swim to safety. If the submarine does indeed sink, then that gnome alone wins. If, however, the remaining crew manage to hold off the rising tide, then they win, the mutinous gnome is executed and everyone apart from that gnome wins! Fun times, and a neat twist right at the end.
This is a fun, fast game. Once you learn the rules, each turn plays out remarkably fast. Players declare what they're doing, then move their pawn for the Action, and a ghost marker moves along the time line to track the expended time. At the end of the turn, the players actual time marker moves up to the ghost marker, encountering any Events along the way, most of which are disastrous!

The game board and pieces are beautiful, and the art is vibrant and funny. I have the big box edition of this game, rather than the first edition mini-box. The submarine board in the first edition is just a thin card, and is hard to make sit flat on a table once unfolded. Unfortunately, I find that my larger scale game board also has difficulty sitting flat once unfolded. A minor quibble, however, and one that doesn't hinder the enjoyment I get playing the game.

Red November is a casual game that runs a little too long to be a night-opener before a more involved game, but it is perfect for an evening with friends who just want to chill, chat and play something light and fun that won't exactly tax your mental capacities, but will definitely elicit a chuckle or two from the players.

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