Monday, May 20, 2024

‘The Hunger’ Is A Quirky Deckbuilder That Asks For Speed More Than Strategy

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As a general fan of all things spooky and macabre, games like The Hunger are the sort that I’m always on the lookout for. Anything with a ghost or a vampire or even a particularly ill-tempered pet? I’m there every day. The Hunger stood out to me, however, as a fun little title with a great look and from one of the most legendary designers our there: Magic The Gathering‘s Richard Garfield.

What’s In The Box?

  • 122 Hunt Cards
  • 3 Rose Cards
  • 6 Starting Decks
  • 1 game board
  • 1 Hunt track
  • 6 Vampire sheets
  • 55 tiles
  • 13 wooden tokens
  • 26 bonus tokens

I definitely want to point out the art by Alexey Bogdanov, Marta Ivanova, Jocelyn ‘Joc’ Millet, and Semyon Proskuryakov which does a great job of looking stylized without being outright cartoonish. The Hunger isn’t necessarily an outright horror game but it does casually involve many dark topics. There’s a genuine creepiness to some of the characters that’s balanced by the exaggerated looks of some of them. It’s all very Addams Family and I dig it. Though they do all have absolutely terrible hairlines.

How’s It Play?

I put The Hunger into the same category as a game like Clank! In Space, where it’s at its core a deckbuilder which uses the cards to dictate movement and action around the board. The goal of the game is to hunt down humans in order to maximize your victory points at the end, adding new vampire powers and doing vampire side quests to make that job easier. As intended by the design, your deck gets bigger and slower as time goes on. The farther away from the safety of the castle you go the better the rewards and hunting, but you have to keep an eye on the time since you must be back at the castle (or maybe a nice mausoleum) by sunrise or all of your work will be for nothing.

The humans you hunt are essentially made thralls, and adding them to your deck is the key to laying out your strategy. The different classes of cards (soldiers, aristocrats, peasants, and the church) lend themselves to different strategies. Aristocrats, for example, are worth a bunch of points at the end but getting them out of your deck requires going WAY deeper on the board than you might want to with the time constraints.

The question of timing also plays out with the hedge maze at the end of the map, which contains in in roses worth many points and which give you some amazing powers to boot. But to get them you better be dang sure you want to commit, because the rose isn’t keeping the sun away.

The Verdict?

Overall, I think that there’s a lot of potential with this game but it falls short in a few places. Like many deckbuilding games (in my opinion most), you really can’t pin down the strategy needed for the game just on one playthrough. Or even a few playthroughs. While there’s not nearly the level of diversity as something like Wingspan, it’s still unclear where the optimal plays are as you find your way around the board. It’s not necessarily the fault of The Hunger in particular since deckbuilders necessitate larger decks with plenty of variety. But since you’re working on a timer you really do barely get a chance to think about goals for a long time since it’s just go, go, go. Which is fine when the strategy is entirely contained to the board but shifts when it extends to the cards in your deck.

I do, however, like the amount of choices you make in this game even once you discount the deck building aspect. The path back and forth is set, but where you go and how you get there is up to you. Stopping for treasure can be a good choice but rapidly loses you time. Taking a ship to bypass a chunk of the board helps you reach the end but miss the goodies on the way. It’s the sort of thing you really don’t get in most deck-builders.

You can grab a copy of The Hunger from the Renegade Games shop, Amazon, or your FLGS at an MSRP of $50.00.

Images and Review Copy via Renegade Games

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