Before I begin I was sent a copy of the game in exchange for an honest review. This is not a paid preview. This will be live on Kickstarter April 28th, though for now you can get more info here. If you would prefer to watch a video preview, you can check it out below.
Fight in a Box games will always have a soft spot in my curmudgeonly reviewer heart. You see that is because at the first convention I was ever given a press pass to, Origins, Seppy stopped me and told me about his game Processing, and ACTUALLY GAVE ME A COPY TO TAKE HOME WITH ME! Me of 45 subscribers at the time, and 15 videos.
Then he say me down and had me play it with a group of 5 or six. It was/is such a wacky bizarre game with a delightfully dark premise. I really enjoyed it, and it was one of the top games I played at Origins that year. Now all of Fight in a Box’s games are wacky and out there, but I was pretty set in my mind that Processing was about as dark as you could go, without ACTUALLY becoming dark (think Tainted Grail, or KDM). Whelp. I was wrong.
You see they have a game called End of the Line (with a soon to be Kickstartered new edition). This, like Processing, is an apocalypse game, but this time, instead of there being a structure to society, it is just chaos and anarchy (which I assume is the name of Seppy’s memoir).
Each player takes on the role of a family in this troubled time. I should note that those who back the Kickstarter will have the option to get non-traditional families, rather than the traditional. It is up to you to make sure that at least one member of your family is the last to bite the big one…or more likely have a big one bitten out of them.
Each round of the game consists of players sending family members to various lines: ammo, food, water, fuel, or the black market. There will have been an event to start each round (this could be zombie attack or an ammo shortage, or whatnot), which will also determine the order that each line will be resolved. Each player will then get to program their deck of cards in a specific order.
When these cards get resolved you will find your family members moving forward and backwards in the lines. Once all cards have been resolved whomever is at the front of the line gets bonus goods (which are how you survive things like zombie attacks), while whomever is at the back of the line gets bupkiss. Oh yeah…did I forget to mention that you are able to set, more of less, arbitrary “laws” on each line?…which might mean that you eat any dogs in the line, or only women can collect at that line, etc.
Invariably these cards, and events result in the deaths of family members. The more members who die, the more lines get closed down, and the faster people start to die. Be the family with someone alive at the end and you win…but most likely everyone is going to die.
So what do I think?
The game is funny. If you play this game and you are not laughing at the utter ridiculousness of what is going on, then you’re doing something wrong. I had the pleasure of playing it via Zoom (yep, my state is under shelter in place orders) with Seppy and Logan from Fight in a Box. We spent so much time laughing as we went, whether it was Logan playing a card that required ammo, after he had jut made everyone get rid of their ammo, me continually putting my cards in the wrong order, or Seppy dying so very often. It is a very funny game.
I also ADORE that they are offering up the option of non-traditional families. To go along with that I really like the huge chunky meeples that you get to play with. They are very satisfying to put them on the lines, and place the ridiculous laws on the lines. Delightful. I will also add that the new bunker edition will have resources that look like what they are, rather than the cubes that the original came with.
Finally, I really like that the game is a take that game without many cards that directly affect other players. Sure you might have a card that will kill whomever is at the end of a line, but there are very few cards that let you just pick a player and do something horrible to them. I think this is awesome, as take that games can result in butt hurtedness on occasion.
The art and layout is solid. The cards are mostly text with effective silhouettes on them that show what you are dealing with. It is not exciting, but adequate.
While I really enjoyed playing the game with three (full disclosure, due to shelter in place, I have not gotten to play with more than that) I think that this is a game that will hit its true height of hilarity at 4 or 5 players. This can be a bit more of a challenge to get to the table due to numbers. So that is something to keep in mind as you ponder the game.
This is not a gentle game. The ONLY way that you will win is if you show no mercy. Alliances are only to be made so you can brutally shatter them when it serves you best, or when it would be funniest. While there is not a lot of directly picking players to screw over, you WILL be screwing players over regularly. This may or may not be your cup of tea, in fact there are several people that I regularly play with that I will never attempt to play this with.
Bringing it all together
End of the Line is quintessential Fight in a Box. It’s wackily dark, fast, and hilariously unforgiving. It has some delightful components, and decent artwork. The kickstarter is offering one of my favorite options that I have seen of late, in non-traditional family meeples. The game is fun at three, but I suspect it shines at 4-5 players, and it is not a game for those of you that are not willing to be just a bit horrible. Ha-ha-horrible, but horrible nonetheless.
Dude. No one reads in the apocalypse
* Ruthless, hilarious, game of survival.
* You really need a group to make the most out of the game
* Awesome meeples, and the new edition is bringing some great new components
* Manages to incorporate elements of programming games, with take that, and just a hint of worker placement
* Easy to learn, plays quickly