The Six Million Dollar Man: Bionic Crisis

The Six Million Dollar Man: Bionic Crisis

Growing up in the 70s and watching TV was awesome, with shows like Battlestar GalacticaThe Incredible HulkSpace: 1999Buck Rogers in the 25th CenturyMork & MindyWonder Woman, The Shazam/Isis HourThe Star Wars Holiday Special,Happy DaysThe Bionic Woman, and The Six Million Dollar Man.  Parker Brothers was quick to capitalize on the popularity of many of these shows within their own target demographic by releasing games based on each series.  Some were terrible, the board game equivalent of shovelware, but one in particular was a classic – The Six Million Dollar Man: Bionic Crisis.

The Six Million Dollar Man: Bionic Crisis

The Six Million Dollar Man: Bionic Crisis

Bionic Crisis was a game that contained both elements of chance and deductive reasoning.  To set up, each player took one of the four Console Boxes and inserted a Console Card into it.  The red and yellow board pegs are placed somewhere where everyone can reach them. Then the deck of Bionic Circuit Cards was shuffled, and one was dealt to each player, who kept it hidden from his or her opponents.  Finally, the deck of Number Cards was shuffled, with each player given three cards and the rest placed face down for everyone to draw from during gameplay.  Once set up, the play began.

The Six Million Dollar Man: Bionic Crisis

The object of the game was simple: be the first to use the Number Cards to duplicate the Bionic Circuit of the player on your left.  Each turn a player called out a number from one of the Number Cards.  If number was on his left-hand opponent’s Circuit Card as one of the ten red spaces, he got a red peg.  If the number was adjacent to a red space, a yellow peg was given instead, and if the number completely missed the mark, then the player ended his turn empty-handed. (Yes, I realize you now want to chant, “You sank my battleship!”…but control yourself.)  This process continued until the Bionic Circuit Card was revealed.

The Six Million Dollar Man - Bionic Crisis

A shortcut to winning the game was to simply map out the entire Bionic Circuit Card by making a guess.  If you were correct, you won the game.  However, if you were wrong – even by a single circuit – you were no longer able to win, though you still had to answer questions from your opponent.  This consequence were so severe that guesses were rarely worth the risk.  We had a House Rule that granted up to three guesses to each player, which added more deduction and less random chance to the gameplay.

The Six Million Dollar Man - Bionic Crisis

Parker Brothers labeled the box for ages 7 to 14, which is quite accurate, as Bionic Crisis was clearly not an adult’s strategy game.  However, the game still brings back fond childhood gaming memories, and must be judged for what it was: a child’s game based on a television property.  It was fun then, and if you can bring back your inner child, it can be fun to play even today.  Only the best classic games can do that!

Class Struggle

 class struggle - avalon hill

Yes, this is Karl Marx. Yes, yes, he is indeed armwrestling a Rockefeller and both were the stars of an Avalon Hill board game’s box-art. Not any board game’s of course, but a game’s created by New York University professor Bertell Ollman as a socialist alternative to Monopoly. Obviously in the 70s when such ideas were actually allowed (!). This infamous and nowadays obscure board game was (and still is) called Class Struggle.

(Oh, and since it was released in the 70s and then again in the 80s don’t expect the glossy/ultra-polished feeling of contemporary board games.)

Class Struggle manages to combine marxist theory, excellent humor and sheer fun. Each player is randomly (as in real life) assigned as a class and races towards the center of the board (in a spiraling way) in order to win the final confrontation of the classes. Should the workers or their allies win, it’s socialism. Should the capitalists or their allies win, it’s not. The rules are simple, logical and you can check them out here, on Bertell Ollman’s NYU page.

The one most interesting and enjoyable aspect of Class Struggle is the way in which real life is put inside the game mechanics. Here’s is an example of a worker’s Monopoly-styled chance card: ‘If you haven’t washed the dishes or made supper in the last week, move two spaces back’ (which is in game terms a bad thing). On the equivalent capitalist’s chance card you get told to move two spaces ahead (a good thing). Simple as that. Educating too.

That’s an (eight) out of (ten).

Zombies!!!

zombies!!! board game
Zombies!!! is a game about survival, about destroying zombies and about making sure your opponents (1 to 5 opponents; do the math, that means 2-6 players) are serving as undead snacks. You (the model representing you actually) will be running around a zombie infested town (made of 30 beautifully illustrated cards and infested by 100 -yes 100- miniature zombies ), shooting zombies (a 4+ on a d6 destroys them), collecting health and ammo, searching buildings and playing the exquisitely dark and humorous and with great artwork action cards (there are around 50 of those). Your goal will be to be the first to butcher 25 zombies or the first to leave town using the helicopter. It is such a simple -yet so enjoyable- board game. You will probably even get to laugh.

Also check the game’s website. You’ll find free rules, expansions, the cutesy (freeware) Zombies!!! RPG and info on the other games and products in the Zombies!!! line.

As the blurb on the box says: This one’s a no brainer!

That’s an (eight) out of (ten).

 

Space Hulk 2nd Edition

Space Hulk 2nd edition is apparently the 2nd edition of the 1st edition Space Hulk, which was published by the massive miniature making 500lb gorilla, usually referred to as Games Workshop. Thus, the setting of the game is none other than the dark, sci-fi and quite gothic 41st millennium. A time of war, theocracy, aliens and incomprehensible gods, war, famine, war preparations, battles, war and 80s music. And as war seems to feature quite heavily in the imagined year 40,000, a war inspired game shouldn’’t come as a surprise to anyone. The fact that humanity of the distant future is struggling under the boot of a rotting vegetable-Emperor, is quite irrelevant to Space Hulk 2nd edition being a war-themed board game and not a wargame. The Alien, Aliens etc craze that raged throughout the late 70s and 80s should explain the overall feeling/aesthetics of the board game, that are glorified in the following picture (directly scanned from the rulebook):

 spacehulkbox2nd

Silliness aside, the Warhammer 40000 universe, Space Hulk‘s setting, is a very rich in detail and well-portrayed world. An unholy bastard of a fantasy and sci-fi setting it may be, but also one of the better gaming worlds around. Space Hulk 2nd edition (Space Hulk henceforth) is accordingly one of the better board games around. Perhaps the best I’’ve ever played, and one I can’’t recommend enough. It might be difficult to track, but at least it’s easier to find than the really obscure first edition, and it will not cost you a fortune. When it was released, some 10 years ago, it was actually great value for money. You bought an -almost- huge box that contained:

– a 36 page full-color rulebook
– a 52 page full-color mission book
– 10 Space Marine Terminator plastic miniatures of the usual Games Workshop quality
– 20 Genestealer plastic miniatures
– dozens of high quality counters
– almost 100 beautifully illustrated board sections
– 7 dice

Space Hulk‘’s game mechanics are rather simple, but extremely atmospheric and varied (that’’s what a 52 page long mission book is good for). Each player (in this two-player game) controls either the tough-as-nails and hip as anything from the 80s Space Marine Terminators, or the Giger-esque, fast and numerous Genestealers. After sides are picked, the players battle it out using the missions (and dice and miniatures) provided, over the modular cardboard terrain, that represents the narrow corridors of an ancient and derelict spaceship. The rules are simple, simpler than the first editions’’ (no stopwatch, just actions/time units per turn for example), but really interesting and appropriate. For example: the Terminators player can’’t see the Genestealers models, but only blips on his radar, represented by small counters his opponent places and moves over the board. Each counter can stand for either one, more or even none of the aliens; this of course can only be revealed when the Space Marines establish eye contact with the blip. Pure genius and a prime example of how atmospheric Space Hulk is.

In typical board game review fashion let me also inform you, that each game (match?) lasts for about an hour. In not-so-typical fashion I’’ll let you know a small fact: Space Hulk has been successfully ported to video game format. Take a look here. This video game even had a PC and console FPS sequel. Fancy, that.

Oh, and concerning my grading of Space Hulk, I guess …

that’s a (nine and a half) out of (ten).