11th June 2019.
Gaming Tuesday continues at 'The Sovereign'
Next up is 'Hit Z Road'.
Have you ever thought about what you would do during a zombie apocalypse?
If your first thought was. "Well, I'd design a game about being in a zombie apocalypse!". Then this might be the game for you.
Hit Z Road is designed to look like a game made by a child during an apocalypse, made from bits and pieces of other games etc. Some of these are other actual real games.
So Hit Z Road is a game set inside the game you are playing. Omg! There goes the 4th wall!
In Hit Z Road you play a small band of survivors travelling through a zombie infested apocalyptic landscape towards a safe haven.
What's in a game?
In particular the art direction of this game is superb. Many of the components are designed to look like they came from other games (some real games and some fake). The rulebook looks handwritten. There also human and zombie meeples.
There are 3 different types of currency/resource in the game, (Ammo, petrol and adrenaline. These will be explained below.). The game plays homage to Fallout by using bottle caps as the different currencies and they look cool.
You can't fault the production values here.
How's it play?
Hit Z Road is a relatively simple game.
Your band of survivors travel from left to right dealing with the obstacles encountered.
There are basically 3 phases in a round.
And that's pretty much it for the rules. The game continues until all the encounters have been played and dealt with. Upon which any remaining survivors reach their destination and points are
Points are earned in a few ways.
The player with the most points wins.
Hit Z Road is a fairly simply game (Which is not necessarily a bad thing.) that will give players a couple of meaningful choices to make every turn - which is a good thing. A bad choice of route can cost a lot of resources.
But the game's problem is the auctioning mechanic, to reiterate:
During the auctioning phase, players bid to create a turn order in which to choose which route to take.
Everybody who make a bid, must pay for the bid they made. Thus it's not a good idea to to try and 'run up' another player's bid, (because your own bid and cost would almost be as high.).
The problem here is 2-fold.
Firstly, the player with the most resources can always go first. This means that they can always have the choice of the most optimal route which will gain them the the most (Or lose them the least.) resources. The remaining players will be bidding (And spending resources.) over the remaining sub-optimal routes which are less beneficial. Essentially, they'll end bidding over the scraps.
Secondly, when most of the players have either spend too many resources or realised they can't bid against the player with the most resources. Then they'll stop bidding. And when no one bids, the turn order does not change. This means that the dominant player doesn't even need to spend any resources to stay first or continue dominating.
The results of this is that all the players bar one will be put on to the back foot and will find it very hard to get off it.
This ruins the game. I know why it was done - they didn't want auctioning reduced to 'Auction winner goes first, play proceeds to the left'. But still, it ruins the game.
I've looked online and found I'm not the only person who thinks so. I've seen that this is called a 'Runaway Leader' problem.
This is the harshest I've been about a game in this blog. I've played games I didn't like or care for. But I consider this to be a bad game, no two ways about it.
In the end I look at the game's excellent production values and can't help but think. 'Maybe the designers got their priorities mixed up.'.