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Review: Who Goes There? (Deluxe Edition)

Who Goes There? What’s it about?

A co-op game until it’s not? What? Ok, let’s get the makers Certifiable Studios to give us the game description:

Far out in the Antarctic, a shape shifting alien was found frozen in the ice. Your excavation team brought it back to camp to study, but the ice has since thawed. Now, a disaster wrecks your camp and that Thing is out there somewhere. You’ll need to work together, watch each other’s backs and fight for survival, but it’s hard to take orders from a leader you don’t trust, first aid from a vulnerable doctor or food from a suspicious cook. Trust is a hard thing to come by when you must be wary of…Who Goes There?

Who Goes There? is a growing paranoia game based on the 1938 book of the same name. It’s a game of strategy, trust and deception where players must work together to survive the Antarctic  dangers and escape from the alien lifeform running loose in the camp. The path players must take to achieve this is fraught with attacks, setbacks and vulnerability.

In Who Goes There?, 3 to 6 players make up an Antarctic research team that is struggling for survival. Players will need to work together to build items and upgrade their characters in order to last until the final round and board the helicopter. Player must venture outside the camp to search for helicopter bonuses which will help them successfully escape.

Every player starts the game as a human and is uninfected. This is a game of growing paranoia. Not a hidden traitor or social deduction game. It’s co-operative until it’s not. During the game, there will be a number of situations that will force unprepared  players to draw a vulnerable card. The more vulnerable cards each player draws, the higher the chances of becoming infected. How does a player get an infected card?

  • They don’t have food to eat during the food round
  • They have to bunk alone during the sleep round
  • The camp door is damaged and broken by reckless players searching outside
  • Players fail a camp event
  • They encounter The Thing and fail to fend off the attack

The goal of the game is to survive until the final round and collect enough bonuses to reach the required helicopter points value and escape! Players must be wary not to let anyone who is infected on board the helicopter or else humanity is doomed. If a player becomes infected during the game, nothing changes. Your goal as an infected player doesn’t change. You still want to gather bonuses and get on board the helicopter. Infected players lower the helicopter points value, making it easier for the humans – but if they get on board, their bonuses count against the humans. If the humans fail to meet the helicopter points value while any infected player is on board, they lose and the infected win. If all players become infected in a rare occurrence, then everybody loses.

But all this is easier said than done. Because the more vulnerable cards you have, the more suspicious you are..

What’s in the box?

Cracking this massive box open reveals a huge amount of stuff. We got the deluxe edition which also contains all the expansion characters, so if you pick up the regular edition there will be a few changes to this list.

1 Rulebook Manual
9 Sculpted Character Minis
1 Sculpted Phase Maker Mini
1 Sculpted Helicopter Die
8 Character Standees
10 Translucent Action Dice
8 Dual Layered Character Boards
48 Translucent Stamina Cubes
48 Translucent Action Cubes
8 Locker Dice
6 Infection Clickers
6 Build Menus
104 Item Tiles
22 Strikes
6 Critical Strikes
50 Experience Gems
1 Came Event Board
1 Inside Camp Board
1 Outsde Camp Board
160 Character Specialty Cards
54 Workshop Cards
54 Storage Cards
25 Camp Event Cards
25 Phase 1 Cards
25 Phase 2 Cards
25 Phase 3 Cards
12 Vulnerable Cards

Phew!

How Does It Play?

The game consists of 15 rounds and each round players will deal with escalating Camp events as well as the Thing lurking outside among the Phase decks. Once the players reach the final round, the game end is triggered. The game is played out on a couple of different boards and with several card decks. Let’s take a look at those elements.

There are 5 spaces players can move to and these spaces are divided into 2 locations: inside and outside. The Storage Room and Workshop spaces are inside and the 3 Phase deck spaces are outside. A player’s location will heavily influence most of the thing that will happen to them. There are also 2 critical utilities that players must look after, the Boiler Room and the Camp Door. If players fail to do so, the effects could be disastrous.

The inside cards decks are made up of the Workshop Cards, Storage Cards and Character Speciality Cards. These cards will go directly into a players hand and these cards are the only cards you can trade with other players.  The cards that make up the 3 Phase decks are drawn when players are outside and are placed face up in the discard pile and immediately resolved.

The game runs on an action point system and the wonderful player boards list each option available to you. More games should do this with their player boards. All the information right there. You know exactly what you can spend your points on without flicking the rules booklet every few minutes. As mentioned, the main aim of the game is to collect the helicopter points and remain human but you will need to craft items to combat the rising difficulty. The better the equipment you have, the more dice you get to roll when rolling for a test. The best thing about the crafting system is that you need multiple pieces to craft the best items. Have a look:

Throughout the game you will struggle to find all the components you need to craft the best gear. This means you must trade with fellow players. But this mechanic allows the possibility of getting infected. Is a player being too pushy trying to give you a piece you need? Are they just being friendly to help you out or do they have ulterior motives? Paranoia time. When you do take the plunge and accept a trade the person you are trading with has the opportunity to infect you (if they are also infected). This is where the ‘clickers’ come into play. A gimmicky but oh so effective infection checking mechanism. Another area of the game that requires discussion is during the sleep phase. You need to bunk with somebody in order to avoid drawing a vulnerable card which could possibly infect or at least make you look suspicious. The thing is though, if you decide not to bunk and go alone you have to draw a vulnerable card..hello paranoia. You sweet thing.

If and when you survive to the final round, it’s time to board the helicopter. For the humans to win they need as many fellow humans on board as possible. For the infected they just need one on board. The team leader will choose who will go and stay. Players can step off the helicopter whenever they want. If players don’t trust the leader they can all vote to remove him from the helicopter. This is a discussion heavy part of the game where everybody pleads their case to be on the helicopter. What choice did you make during the game? Did the other player notice? Did they trust you? What did you do to make them not trust you? Oh boy here comes paranoia again.

Components

Who Goes There? is a fantastically produced game. The artwork is interesting. A cartoon look but don’t let that betray the subject matter. All the components are fantastically well produced. Cards are of a great quality and the dice have a nice weight to them. The clickers are sturdy and the player boards are wonderful. They have taken a page from Scythe by having small pockets on the board that hold the various items all nice and snug.  The box also has a great insert that fits all the components inside the box once you have opened and popped everything. One of the best produced games we have seen in a while.

Overall

Who Goes There? is a great game. It takes the usual hidden traitor / social deduction game and turns it on its head. This game should be played with the same group multiple times. It just gets better each time you play with the same group. From one game to another you just do not know what will happen. This game will easy get to the table when we have a gaming group of 4 to 6. If you enjoy games such as Deception, Resistance and Dead of Winter. Give this a try. It might surprise you. Highly recommended.

Our copy of Who Goes There? was backed on Kickstarter. Certifiable Studios released a very small amount to retail but have since stopped supplying to retail channels due to retailers selling under MRSP. You can buy direct here

 

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GameStart Asia

GameStart Asia

The GameStart team of geeky gamers share thoughts on the latest games, trends and news.

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