Gaming Point Of Lou: A “Wicked” Little Strategy Game
TOP O’ THE TABLE – WICKED APPLES
For my first “official” Pint assignment, Supreme Overlord Ganache (heretofore referred to as SOG from this point forward) decreed that I would be playtesting, and reviewing a game entitled “Wicked Apples”. Fearing for the safety of myself, and my family, I humbly agreed to accept this task, and met up with SOG to pick up the test copy for review.
Wicked Apples is created by Almost A Game, and is billed as “Strategic Chaos”, I know this for fact because they put it right on the cover. The game comes packaged in a nicely decorated box, with one of the titular “Wicked Apples” displayed front, and center. Contents include: 4 instruction cards, (which do an adequate job of explaining the game, although, as an alternative, there is also a very well made “how to play” video, along with a full “Appledex” on their website: www.almostagame.com), 5 bucket cards, 5 wicked apples cards, and 22 other unique apples cards. The cards themselves are of a very high quality, with an art style very reminiscent of something you would see in an Edgar Allen Poe book.
The designers state that the game will work with 2-5 players, and take an average of 10-15 minutes per playthrough. While I found the playtime accurate, I have to say, that 2 players is probably a bit low for a game of this type. While the game is certainly playable with two, I feel that it really only comes into it’s own strategically with 4 or more, as it allows for a wider variety of the 22 unique apple cards to be in play at any one time.
(Example of a typical starting hand, you have your bucket card, the matching wicked apple, and three unique apple cards, which not only determine action order, but also modify the game conditions)
Games of this type are infinitely difficult to write up, because they fit into the “easy to learn, hard to master” archetype. You can quickly have 3 or 4 of your friends playing this game competently in approximately 3-5 minutes time, but, the game really excels after multiple playthroughs, once you learn how the various cards interact with each other, and the players can start developing higher level strategies around not only the cards, but the ever changing action turn order. Even after a dozen or so playthroughs with my testing group, we still ended up in multiple scenarios where the whole table died in the same round, and sometimes, strategically, that is your only option, which I love. If I’m going out, I’m damn sure taking everyone else with me.
(Above: The basic setup for a four player game, note 12 of the 22 unique apple cards in play, [16 face down cards, minus the 4 Wicked Apple Cards], this is why I feel 4-5 is the ideal group size, as it allows for more cards in play)
Wicked Apples took home the Audience Choice Award at the 2016 Boston F.I.G. (Festival of Independent Games), and it’s not hard to see why, its combination of simple mechanics, and in depth strategy make this the perfect icebreaker game for your weekly game night, or a great time killer while waiting for your takeout to arrive (which is how we played the first few games) I honestly can’t recommend this game enough. It appears as if, SOG once again, knows best!
Note: A review copy of Wicked Apples was provided to us for testing by the folks at Almost A Game, you can visit them on their website www.almostagame.com. MSRP is $15.00 on their e-shop.