When the mutant Bee-human hybrids finally take over there are only two options. Fight until the apocalypse finally takes you, or die so others can loot what’s left of you. So Ded, designed by Calvin Nelson and coming to Kickstarter from Lone Knight Games, takes the recent hotness of fighting in a deathmatch amidst an impending cataclysm and condenses it into a breezy minute filler game with cutesy, psychotic artwork and a whole pile of dice, cards, and meeples.
So Ded is simple in theory: all players are in a fight to the death, with the last one standing declared the winner of the barren wasteland that once was earth. At the start of the game, six oversized location cards are placed in a circle, creating the battlefield. Each of these locations is seeded with “loot” cards that can be taken advantage of later. All players are given a character with a unique ability and a starting deck of cards that they’ll use in combat and for advancing their level. Players roll to see where their meeples start on the map and draws five cards. The game is ready to start and the blood is going to spill fast and loose.
Simultaneously players roll their die. Each location has a movement indicator that dictates in which direction they’ll move. Once the shuffling of meeples is complete players have to assess their situation. If they’re alone on a location space, great! They get the opportunity to loot. They do this by simply taking one of the cards on the specific location’s deck. However, should more than one player share a space, combat commences. All players on the same space choose two cards of different types from their hand and place them face down. Players reveal their cards to see who wins and who dies. The player who has the highest combat value between their character powers and combat cards is declared the winner! While the lowest value in the battle is declared dead… maybe. All other players are unaffected. Should a player lose a combat there are a number of cards and character abilities that can potentially save them to live another day. In addition to looting the location, the winner of the combat also gets to loot up to four cards off of anyone they killed. And so the murder-merry-go-round spins and spins. But wait, there’s more!
It wouldn’t be a good old fashioned battle royale if the map didn’t constrict itself encouraging more frequent bloodshed, would it? After the first turn an apocalypse token is placed on one of the locations, destroying all of its loot and making it unavailable for any of the players to move to. If a player has an apocalypse token drop onto a location they’re already at, they have to attempt to roll to escape. If they can’t they’re dead and the fight goes on for all the rest. As the game progresses the apocalypse, which can either be zombies or bee-human hybrids (dealers choice, really), encourages more player interaction.
As fewer players are left, the spread of the apocalypse quickens until the final three players are forced into an ultimate showdown. Before that however, each player can choose to spend supplies between rounds to advance their level and strengthen their combat. Also the player powers attributed to characters are all very unique and interesting. Despite all this action, it’s a relatively quick little game.
The biggest thing that struck me with this prototype was the sheer number of components. While it’s true, game play is brisk and the rules light, there was a ton of little bits in this box. Between gravestones that you get after killing a player, level up tokens, meeples, dice, cards, and locations, it added up quick. It really isn’t nearly as bad to set up as I was expecting though. The biggest annoyance with it was the starter decks, should they be mixed up, would have to be re-built. This can be a little time consuming. Other than that, however, the instructions and components all kind of clicked together and made sense.
Speaking of components, this was a really nice looking prototype. In particular the art and graphic design direction were a good mix of cute and macabre. All the characters looked like deranged versions of Wreck-it-Ralph sprites in the best possible way. The player powers were thematic and the art design all just kind of jived right in line with each other. The humor, while weird, was appealing and tongue-in-cheek enough for me not to get annoyed at just how prevalent the sight gags were.
Ultimately there’s a smattering of strategy to the game play, but luck plays a big role in So Ded. The dice determine where you move and the loot you find can really only be used in combat. There are particular pieces that let you save yourself or hide from combat, but those are pretty few and far between other than the ones players start within their own deck. The loot cards could be super powerful or just above average. If this were any heavier of a game I’d have plenty more to bemoan, but as it stands; a quick and dirty battle royale gets a bit of a pass from me.
This is exactly the kind of game that you’ll look at and have an inkling of if you’ll like it or not. Primarily it’s not going to appeal to anyone that solely likes strategy heavy thinky games. It has a ton of take-that and luck. But with a short playtime and a high player count, you can begin killing your friends as the world crumbles around you and be done in time to play again or pick up something new.
- Quick playtime means even if you’re knocked out early you won’t be out for long.
- Art and graphic design are top notch and match the theme and vibe of the game well.
- Accommodates a big group of people and allows for reactions and shouts of joyful rage.
- Heavily luck based.
- A few too many pieces to keep track of for such a light game.