This game doesn’t sugarcoat the niceties of vigilante justice. Bloody and brutal, Kick-Ass doesn’t pull any punches, especially on the difficulty.
Kick-Ass is a cooperative strategy game with resource management, dice rolling combat and even a touch of deck building. The general goal of the players is (usually) to kill the bad guy. But the game comes with a variety of bad guys, and they all play out really differently.
Each player takes the role of one of the characters from the comic. Each character has resources to manage: items, money, fitness, happiness, and social media followers. Items mostly improve your combat capabilities, money buys goods and services and fitness also improves combat. Happiness is a little more interesting. Fighting and working too hard makes you unhappy. If you get too unhappy, you start gaining Hardships. A hardship can be anything from Insomnia to Drug Addiction. This game gets real, y’all. Gaining a lot of Social Media Followers can give bonuses around town, in which each character having a unique bonus and unique Activation card if they become Famous by maxing out that track.
The gameplay in Kick-Ass is actually pretty straightforward. The first phase of each turn is the Event Phase, where an Event card is revealed and the remaining cards move down the track. Events are challenges the players must overcome, from losing their job to a new hot-shot crime boss showing up on the scene. Each turn, the Event cards move down the track. If they move off the last space, the players suffer the listed consequences.
The remainder of the round is broken into 2 steps: Spawn minions, players do stuff. This is repeated 3 times and that makes up a round. Players use Activation cards to do stuff. Each card lists the things it can do. The main 2 icons are the timer icon, which allows players to interact with the locations on the board and the fight icon, which I won’t explain. Combat is done by rolling dice, adding up icons and hoping you got more than the bad guys.
Once the players successfully complete 3 Event cards, the Final Plot begins. Each Boss has their own Final Plot but all of them play out really differently. Red Mist, being a total coward, triggers a hide and seek style event. John Genovese adds an additional section of the board that the players must infiltrate, and another Boss (whose name my editors won’t let me say) sets up an almost tower defense mini-game with waves of enemies.
Each Boss has their own win conditions, but usually to kill them. If the heroes can do that before City Hall is overrun with minions, they win!
Kick-Ass feels like a natural evolution of games like Pandemic, where it takes the basic idea of the players working together to contain the spreading badness. But instead of curing the diseases with science, you have to beat them up with violence. Plus, the Final Plot mechanic feels very similar to The Haunt from Betrayal at House on the Hill, which gives the game an Act I and Act II, which I really enjoy.
What really stood out to me was the ‘deckbuilding’ element. You only have the 5 cards at any point, so you have to manage those cards really carefully. Your starting cards are often good at gaining resources (happiness, money, social media followers, etc), but the stronger cards usually only spend resources. This mechanic is great because it makes you choose between a healthy work/life balance, or just going hard on being a miserable vigilante who gets it done, despite the consequences to yourself.
Overall, in my playthrough of Kick-Ass, I had a really good time. It’s a game of constant choices, weighing options and mitigating risk and I love that. Also, I hadn’t really mentioned this yet, but this game is HARD! Even Red Mist, supposedly the easiest Boss kicked my ass. Still, I love a good challenge, so I’m ready to jump back in with some better insight as to how to approach the game.
Kick-Ass – $59.99 – Available Now
New York City is being overrun with criminals. The Police Department either can’t handle this new wave of crime, or has been corrupted from the inside and refuses to help. In these troubled times, certain individuals have stepped up to keep the streets safe… while making sure they aren’t late to work, or they don’t miss another dinner date. Saving the day isn’t easy when you’ve got an active social life to maintain.
- 1 – 4 Players
- 60 – 90 Minutes
- Ages 18+
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