Monday, January 8, 2018

Kotas Reviews Mixtape Massacre

Ah, love that new year smell! It smells of cheap sparkling wine and flannel for some reason. So! With 2017 behind us, I will repeat my oft broken goal of "try not to review so much damn food this year" and then proceed to not review food. Today we tackle something a bit different. Ladies and Gentleman, let's get back to the 80s with Mixtape Massacre.

A face only a legally distinct from Jason Vorhee's Mother could love.
Mixtape Massacre is a board game by BrightLight Games, that began life as a Kickstarter project back in 2015. An expansion for the game, Black Masque, was also Kickstarted this past summer. It has decent reviews and a really striking presentation. I mean, look at that box art! The conceit for this game is that you play as one of several 80s horror movie inspired killers, stalking the citizens of Tall Oaks and brawling with your fellow murderers in a gleeful tongue in cheek spree of a game with the goal to collect 10 kill trophies and thus become the Master of Massacre. 

Nostalgia for 80s horror (and the 80s in general really) drips from every component, from the "knife" health counters to the fact that the back of the various cards are styled like VHS and music tapes, this thing gets 5 stars out of 5 for presentation. I was super hyped to play this game and gleefully cackled as we set up the board. My particular avatar for this bloody fun? The Legend, a weird mashup of Michael Myers and Jason Vorhees. Truly this was to be something special.

The glory of Tall Oaks, I guess.
Then we actually started to, ya know, play the game. OH HOW MISLEAD WE WERE. So, the idea is that you start on a square with a knife on it, and move to a location to have an encounter with a victim, then roll to murder them. So the first few turns progressed like this. Roll to move, maybe hit a Bonus Square. If you do, draw a card. Take two unavoidable damage for...reasons. Next turn, roll to move, almost make it to murder someone. Next turn, finally get to a location, draw for victim...bam, hit by a car, take two unavoidable damage. It was literally 4 turns before ANYONE got to roll to murder someone and then...they failed and got sent back to start. Wash, rinse, repeat. After a few more rounds a couple people had one or two kills, but most of us were down to half health due to various unavoidable damage from card draws or bad rolls, and most of us were on or near our starting squares. 

Finally someone got on a lucky roll and started a Killing Spree. So, when you finally murder someone, you can go on a Kill Spree. Your movement roll is doubled, and as long as you keep killing, you keep taking turns. Up to this point most sprees had lasted all of a single roll, because the distance to one location was fairly far away. This time our intrepid hero killed someone in the middle of the board, which has several locations within 3 squares of each other AND this person managed to avoid all the shitty draws, probably because we drew them all already. So they end up winning the game. What was nice though was that while they were on the streak, it actually felt like a killing spree rather than slowly podding around, getting hit by cars or shot in the face by police before your inevitable return to the starting square. This was the only time the game actually felt something that resembled "fun". 

My group decided that maybe we just had a run of bad luck, so we reset, reshuffled, and played again. Things went slightly better, but it was still just plodding around, trying to get lucky enough to go on a kill streak and just win it. There is not a lot of complexity to the rules, nor much interesting to do. Each character has a special ability, but they felt super not impactful or interesting at all. Mostly, we just tried not to get hit by a car and be hopeful a bunch of nerds would show up in our draws so we could end the game faster. I ended up on a spree and winning that one, but instead of the satisfaction of slaughtering a bunch of sexed up teens, I had the relief that it was finally over and the disappointment that I even wasted time playing the game a second time. 

On the FACE Rating System, Mixtape Massacre gets 2 Frowny Faces. The theme is super entertaining, but is not reflected in the actual game play. The game mechanics themselves are simplistic at best, and downright boring at worst. What is really disappointing is that with a bit of playtesting and polish, there could be a decent game here. I went into this expecting the amazing fun of Friday the 13th, and would have even settled for the hilarious badness of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, but what I got was the plodding boredom of The Ring 2. I really wanted to like this, but I just can't. What really boggles me is how well reviewed this is! I guess it could be fun if I were like, super drunk. Please don't buy this, but if you can play without paying and have a lot of booze, you might consider opening the box looking at all the awesome and hilarious artwork, and then going to play something actually fun.

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