Come with us on a journey into a world, that is no longer such, as we know it today. The sun is just a distant shadow of the impenetrable dark clouds. No one has felt its touch for decades, and in addition to blurred streaks in the sky, only heat can testify about its presence.
But it is not just the sun. The planet has become arid desert, where trees grow only at few locations, and most of the dry land is without a modicum of life. When the rain sets in, pouring from the clouds, all living creatures run for hiding, because life-giving water changed into the poisons.
And in all this, the people survive. Several factions compete for the victory and power, some human, other not. The future has come. The constant struggle is their sole purpose in life. There is no money or houses with gardens, the property is limited to, what one has on him. Such is the world Neuroshima.
Our story takes place in this world. Not only a card game 51st State from Ignacy Trzewiczek (review), but also tactical board game Neuroshima Hex. This one builds on an entirely different approach more tile laying style. But behind Neuroshima Hex, there is not only a strong theme and story, but also engine that drives the fight forward in an interesting way.
Welcome into a game of Polish author Michal Oracz. The plan and pieces are product of Jakub Jablonski and already mentioned Ignacy Trzewiczek helped with tuning the game manual. You will certainly be glad, that this Polish game is more reachable than for example City Tycoon (review), which both have the same Polish distribution company REBEL.pl. Our editors got the second, improved, edition of the game with an enlarged plan for more players or scenarios, better tokens and place for monitoring hits dealt to your base.
At first glance, the square black box with robot picture, containts mainly a lot of chips. You must honestly punch them out from the sheets, before you get 35 of them for each faction, a total of 140 hexagonal pieces. Besides these, there is also game board hidden in the box, which could seem a little small at first glance for a game with such great theme. But do not worry, it is large enough. You will notice at first glance, that its graphics is divided into hexagonal fields, just as those pieces you punched out earlier.
The remaining chips are injury and damage, as well as four spare blank chips in case you lose some. It deserves praise, because few people now provides such service. You’ll find also the rules in the box of course. They contain, in addition to basic learning of the game, also detailed descriptions of the various factions and itemized example of the game for ease of understanding.
Unlike the 51st State, you will not have to worry about any material, or income here. Your only task is to confront the enemy and destroy him. Or at least his base, as the basic version of the game commands you to do. Each party has their own headquarters (HQ). You easily get into the role of a general, who leads his troops to war.
Each of the opponents must choose his side of conflict. The choice is composed of gang Hegemony, mutant Borgo, human Outpost and terrible servants of Moloch. The last named have an interesting place in the game. While Outpost and Hegemony are real human descendants, the military Moloch is a giant creature responsible for almost destroying the planet in 2020 and annihilation of mankind. This does not prevent the game to make them a playable side, because the aim here is not a fight between good and evil, but only survival.
After each player chooses one of the parties, each takes appropriate 35 chips typical for this side. There is one token representing headquarters. All other chips are shuffled and create a drawing pile. Each player puts one base damage tokens in his colors on the counter on the board at number twenty. Bases are equally strong, as well as chances to win.
Neuroshima Hex game is basically ready now for the duel of two players. Players first place their headquarters tokens on game board. For its position, they can choose any location on the map.
The actual battle takes place with players having a choice of three chips (from drawing pile), but they have them publicly laid out on the table! There are no secrets in this game, everything is public and the players can plan according to opponent’s options.
During the player turn, he must first draw from pile until he has three tokens. At that moment, he must choose one of three, and throw it away on the discard pile. This chip would not be used in the game. The other two options are for the current round – players can keep both of them for the next round and end their turn. They can also throw more chips away, if they do not fit into current tactics and they need to make a place to prepare for the arrival of better chips in the next round. But this round is also over for them.
The lastest option is much more interesting and most important option, that is only tactically extended by littering and keeping. We are of course talking about playing a token from your hand from possible two to its possible location on the game board. But this may happen only in a case, that it is a positional chip. There are also special chips, that have a one-time effect and they are wasted after its resolution. Pieces types are easily distinguishable from each other – those, which can be put on the game board, have a border.
Chips can be placed on any vacant space on the board. Be careful however, because when it comes to resolution, you must take into account not only their positions, but also the rotation! Each of the six sides of each hexagonal tile can have a close or distant attack symbol, armor or the ability to immobilize opponents with net. All these symbols are directional and they affect neighbours only on that particular side.
Besides these, there is an icon regarding life (durability) of the unit – that is, how much hits will it last, before it is removed from the game. You can also find number on the tokens, specifying the initiative for the order of battle. Most pieces in the game Neuroshima Hex cannot move.Chips will remain by default on their location until their destruction or the end of the game. That makes its location even more important. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule – using a special action token, you can move some units or rotate them.
Players take turns and play tokens until the board is filled or until one of the rivals plays a battle chip. At this point a duel of both parties begins. Units will attack at each other with closed ranged and shooting attacks in order of the initiative – the fight is divided into several rounds according to initiative numbers. All pieces with one initiative number act simultaneously, so if two units shoot at themselves with the same number, both will get injured. Even though the unit was destroyed, it remains on the board until the end of the battle, only turned face down.
The aim of both players is to deal hits the opponent’s base. The game ends either by taking last of tokens or by destroying the opponent’s HQ. In the first case the final battle commences before the end. That battle can help you decide the winner. The player with least damaged HQ is the winner.
Neuroshima Hex is a tactical game, that belongs to the family of games with simple and easy to remember rules. And it offers a truly honest tactical battle, that will not leave you in peace and always will make your brain cells to function.
Each side has unique units and tactics. There even more chips kind in play, which we did not metion while describing the basic rules, such as scouts increasing initiative, officers improving the attack or medics helping with injuries. Special tokens also allow plenty of twists on the board and you do can even use the air strike. You can in fact boost the chips in a row or throw grenades.
The strategy is really hidden in every movement and decision. You can not let your attention off the board even for a moment. You have to watch not only game board itself and intentions of an opponent, but also tokens retained by you and your rival from the previous round. But there still remains a surprise in the form of tiles you draw on the beginning of your next turn. Therefore it is important to stick to the drawing system and really pick the new ones at the start of your turn, otherwise you will damage yourself and help your rivals.
Really great is the separation of two phases – preparatory and combat. Players will not lose your units immediately, when they may be weak unit, without a chance. But power comes in numbers. And with this in mind, you can support each unit by other in future turns and completely change the outcome of the battle itself. Moreover the preparation provides real tension, when you are waiting for the battle to commence. Every muscle of your warriors is strung, waiting for generals battle cry.
Luck plays a role only when drawing pieces. Although this adds some unpleasant coincidence to the game, it brings another tension and expectation into play, especially if you know, what your opponents tiles are and what he can still hide in his sleeve. Generals (players) must be able to work with what they have at their disposal now. Throughout the game, however, they have a chance to use almost all of their units and the chances of winning are definitely balanced. But most important is the planning stage combat, when it comes to initiative – player can destroy more dangerous unit even before he manages to aim with all the guns, because his units are quicker and can react in a earlier stage of the fight.
The game also offers team play in four or fight to the death in multiplayer (in three or four in basic version without extension). Board in new edition brought more space for bigger battles. Play keeps a very interesting strategic touch and is definitely worth a try in a different number of players, beyond the basic two. Each version has something special and the game works well in all number variations.
Individual armies have completely different tactics, which you must get to know and stick to them. One relies purely on the power, then the next attack-retreat tactic. Even from this description it is clear, that the replayability of Neuroshima will be interesting. And believe us, that the game becomes better and better with each playing as you get to know the possibilites.
Game time is favorable, because the players basically just choose, where you play the most interesting token, or order their actions. So usually you will not run into some analysis paralysis or something and everything always runs pretty seamlessly towards the battle.
Processing is graphically good. All the chips themselves have printed all the important information. But all this tiny icons can be difficult for some people to read.
Neuroshima Hex is a great tactical game, that inspires every sci-fi hobbyist. But even players, who love games depending on each turn, will love it. One mistake here is crucial and usually tends to have devastating consequences. Neuroshima Hex invites you with open arms into the world, which we hopefully will not experience on our own, and where is plenty of room for strategy and entertainment.
+ four different armies
+ small board, which makes everything crowded
+ two phases – preparation and battle
+ token rotation is important
+ highly tactical duels
+ constant interaction
+ you can keep tiles for future rounds
+ variant for more players
+ great in two players
- random drawing of tiles can ruin your strategy