EBOLA MONKEY HUNT (Placebo Press)


Each player has to capture four monkeys in the lab, and get them to the "Cold Zone". The board is a piece of paper with squares on it, with a maze-like load of walls drawn on. In games like these, all buildings have maze-like lay-outs.

Each turn, a player rolls 1d6, and moves that number of squares towards one of the four places on the board where there are monkeys to be collected. First one with four monkeys in the cold zone wins.

So far, this seems to be like Ludo, and rather dull. What makes the game fun, is the cards. If a player rolls a 1 or 2, he picks up a card, as well as moving a small way. Bad die rolls for movement, therefore, mean more cards. The cards allow players to mess things up for each other. Cards allow players to do things like puncture each others' bio-suits, and release airborne viruses. They also allow players to defend themselves, with such things as puncture repair kits and switching on the ventilation systems to rid the air of the viruses. Viruses, lack of oxygen, and a few similar predicaments, mean that a player will die in three turns, unless he can remedy matters, which when I played, he usually could.

Making things even more haphazard, is a second set of cards. These are the monkeys themselves. When a player picks up a monkey, only then does he find out what sort of monkey he has. I was playing with an expansion set which included lots of "power-monkeys" which were advantageous to have. Most monkeys, though, make things very difficult in a variety of ways, for the carrier.

There are many ways, therefore, in which one player can make things tricky for another. Each player is also equipped with a dart gun, with which he can stun his fellows for a turn at critical moments. A good time to do this is when the victim is just about to deliver a monkey to the cold zone. Stun him and steal his monkey (but will he hang onto it, using his "kung fu grip" card?).

Naturally, when one player has delivered three monkeys and is about to deliver his fourth to win the game, the other players all gang up on him. This is fun, but it means that the game can take a long time to resolve.

The components are of tolerable quality. The drawings of the monkeys and men in bio-suits are so bad that one wonders whether they were the roughs given to the artist, who instead of re-drawing them, just pasted them onto the designs. Players have to supply various counters for bookkeeping, and pawns or figures for their bio-suited characters.

The game is simple, fun, a bit too long, and has enough tactical skill to it to entertain a gamer for a few games. You wouldn't want to play two games on the trot, though.



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