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One of the greatest mysteries in life is what would occur in the wake of the 2016 split of Games Workshop and Fantasy Flight Games. This union brought monumental titles such as Forbidden Stars and Space Hulk: Death Angel to our tables. For many years both companies had a great thing going, and then they simply didn’t.
Now we’re in a new age with multiple Warhammer-set board and card games arriving from a suite of companies. Devir Games is functioning as the de-facto pathfinder in this regard, offering us our first 40K licensed product in this brave new world. It just so happens to be a mashup of Gorkamorka and Mario Kart.
This small box release comes from the designer duo of Roberto Fraga and Yohan Lemonnier – the duo that birthed the fantastic Captain Sonar. Like Captain Sonar, it has a light and almost whimsical feel with real-time elements and some carefree combat. I don’t think anyone would make this mistake, but don’t come to the proceedings expecting depth greater than a squig footprint.
Gretchinz! is a competitive race that will take roughly 20 minutes to complete. Each player is controlling a cardboard 3D greenskin cart, trying to barrel up a path of terrain laid out by rows of cards. It’s a mad dash to make it to the 7th row of cards while players fire cannon shots and impede each other’s progress.
Each round everyone hunkers down and begins rolling a set of three custom dice. These green cubes of chance feature actions such as moving, firing weapons, and drawing additional cards to your hand. You’ll be rolling your dice as quickly as possible, attempting to massage the results until you get an adequate pool of actions. The rub is that everyone must stop rolling as soon as one player is satisfied and shouts “WAAAGGGH!”
Then the majority of the table groans and everyone starts programming their three actions into their player board. The order bears some significance as you will execute all three of your actions on your turn in the specified order.
There are some small twists such as moving forward only occurs in diagonals. This gives a forward momentum to the game that ensures it doesn’t overstay its welcome. The terrain also is somewhat interesting in that landing on many cards will trigger effects such as drawing or losing cards from your hand. You can even blow craters in the ground to impede players that move through those spaces.
The combat system takes its cue from the modern classic Hanabi. Players hold a hand of options but are unable to view the face of the cards. Each offers attack results such as hits, malfunctions, or jams. There’s an element of risk here as attacking another player requires you pluck two cards from your hand and hope for the best. The game does offer a couple of small ways for you to glean information on your hand, such as the ‘Eye of Gork (or Mork)’ dice action which forces another player to tell you how many hits you possess.
Damage occurs in the form of flames counters which accumulate. If you’ve acquired three, you will miss your next turn dousing the inferno and getting your wheelie death contraption back in line. This can be slightly frustrating but everything moves fast enough that it doesn’t hamper the proceedings too much.
Another interesting facet is the optional player specific powers. The game instructs avoiding these on your first play, but they add little overhead and a tiny element of spice. This opens up the klan ability die result for some more options when frantically throwing those bones down on the dining room table.
For the most part, abilities tend to function as slight wilds. For one particular character, each ability result allows you to move. Another gretchin can utilize the klan ability as an extra attack. This manipulates the odds and alters the result set just enough to give you another option while driving your play in a certain direction.
Overall, this is an extremely light game of dice programming with some real-time pressure and conflict. Being a fan of the 40K setting will help bolster engagement and fortunately, the game will sell itself visually.
Have you played Gretchinz? Let us know in the comments! And be sure to join host Becca Scott on Game the Game every Thursday here on Geek & Sundry to watch the best boardgames played with fantastic guests!
Want more fun in the Warhammer 40K universe?
- 4 Reasons It’s a Sunny Time To Enter The Grimdark: 8th Edition Warhammer 40K
- Roleplay in the Dark Imperium with’Wrath & Glory’ – A New Warhammer 40K RPG
- Explore Warhammer 40K Mythology With G&S Vlogger Dael Kingsmill
Image Credits: Charlie Theel
Editor’s note: A sample of the game was provided by the publisher
In addition to Geek & Sundry, Charlie Theel writes for Ars Technica, Tabletop Gaming, and co-hosts the gaming podcast Ding & Dent. You can find him on Twitter @CharlieTheel