Big Bad Overlord

Game Overview: Big Bad Overlord is a card and dice rolling game originally created in the 1980s.  Over the years it has been refined and will be released to Kickstarter on May 31, 2016.  A group of mighty Dukes once carved the world between themselves after shoving the last Dark Lord into a volcano.  None of the Dukes was strong enough to overthrow the others; consequently they all coexisted in an uneasy state of truce.  Then, two of the Dark Lord's mightiest weapons returned to the world.  With these weapons, one of the Dukes might be able to finally overpower the others.  And so, they began gathering their minions in preparation for a world shattering war, to finally emerge as the new Big Bad Overlord.

Box Contents: With the review copy provided, we are not able to comment on a box size and how well it holds the contents of the game.  However, we can comment on the quality of the cards.  The cards are very similar to normal playing cards, which means it will hold up to many plays without any issues.  The art on the cards reminds me of something that you would see with Munchkin.  Nothing fancy, but still well done. 

Clarity of Rules: The manual is a twelve page full color document that does a decent job in explaining the rules of the game and highlights important areas of game play and provides some examples of the game play as well.

Game Play:  Game play begins by each player choosing one of the six Dukes.  The card that they choose has no impact to the game play itself.  Six cards are then dealt to every player.  The rules state that if you receive any Do Gooders in your hand, you place them back into the deck and take another card(s).  This would come up quite often for us, so we decided to keep the Do Gooders out with the initial cards that are going to players, and then we shuffled them back into the deck.  Each card has three combat attributes; Mind, Magic, and Melee.  These determine the winner and loser of each battle along with the rolling of two six sided dice.  When you receive your cards, you determine which three cards are in your army, which are placed face up for everyone to see.  The remaining cards are played into your reserve.  The reserve is important because those cards will double all numbers on their cards when brought into play.  When it is your turn, you draw a card from the deck.  If it is a minion, you add it to your army, with a maximum number of six cards and choose which player to attack.  You may draw one of the Do Gooder cards instead of a minion.  When this happens, you then have to battle them first before continuing your battle with one of the other players.  Battles are resolved in three phases: Mind, Magic, and Melee.  Each minion and Do Gooder card has a number that reflects each of these combat phases.  If the number on the card is red, they can attack during that phase.  If it is gray, they can only defend for that combat phase.  You combine your attack numbers of all of your cards to your opponents defense to determine if you are awarded a modifier to your dice roll for that combat phase.  During both the Mind and Magic phases, a modified roll of 12 succeeds. If you are successful in the mind phase, you steal the card with the weakest mind rating from your opponent and it is added to your cards for the rest of the battle round.  A successful roll in the magic phase, destroys your opponents card with the weakest magic.  During the Melee phase, the highest modified roll wins, which removes the weakest melee card from your opponent.  One important thing to remember during the dice rolls, a natural 12 always wins and a natural 2 always loses.  Once the combat phase is over, you can choose to push your luck by drawing another card and then you choose to attack the same opponent or choose a different opponent.  At any time, if you are not involved in the battle, you can join the attacker or help defend an adjacent player.  Once a players army and reserve has been destroyed, they will be left with the Duke they selected at the beginning of the game.  To eliminate them from the game, you must defeat the Duke.  The Dukes are equal to the army they are facing, meaning there are no dice modifiers.  The one exception is that the Duke may have an artifact which will give him a +4 magic (Mage Skull) and +2 Melee (Doom Sword).   The artifacts also play an important part in the game when the deck of cards run out.  No artifacts, eliminates you from the game.  If you have both artifacts, you win.  If you have one and another player has the other, one final battle determines the winner.

Replay Ability: With getting a different army and reserve each time because of the card draw and the randomness of the dice roll, you will not see the same game twice.

Appropriate Audience: The suggested age of 10+ would be appropriate.  Just be mindful if the younger player doesn't like to be ganged up on, which can happen in this game.

What We Liked/Didn't Like: We liked how involved everyone in the family is when playing the game.  The ooh's and ahh's with the dice roles and when new minions are shown or when the do gooders come into play.  For the game play itself, we like all of the different mechanics that come into play.  You will see the strategy of playing your cards, dice rolls, push your luck by drawing more cards, and the semi cooperative aspect of helping other players.  The one thing we wish was better was the rules manual that we were working from.  At times, situations would come up that were not always clear with how to play them out.  Again, I want to point out that this was a review copy that we were working from. 

Add-ons/Other Releases:  n/a

* A review copy was provided to us.  The contents of the game or rules may change with future releases.  Our review is based upon the game that we received and also take into consideration changes that the game designer noted to us that were not present in the review copy.