Board Game Night - Looterz

Number of players: 2-6 (best: 3)
Playing time: 15-30 minutes
By:  Fel Barros, Marco Portugal / CMON Limited
Rank on BoardGameGeek: 5769th

This small game was a Christmas gift from oHOTmu or NOT's Elyse, without a doubt the boardgamiest member of our cabal, as a good ice breaker for our various board game nights. For some reason, I've since only used it as a FINISHER. You know, when there isn't that much time before people leave, and everyone's getting kind of brain dead. Not to say there's no thinking involved...

Gameplay
In this simple card game, you play or draw a "looter" (essentially a "D&D"-type monster or character) in the recruitment phase, then activate all the looterz you have in front of you (rolling dice either for gold pieces or to remove hit points off opponent's looterz, or else using a special ability), which is following by another recruitment phase (but no activation phase), and finally a discard of any looterz above the four you can legally have out in front of you. Some looterz trigger an effect when they are played, others you must activate, and other still are triggered when they are discarded/destroyed. First player to 7, 10 or 15 coins (depending on number of players) wins.

Now, there's enough variety in the pack to justify many strategies, but a lot of chaos as well. Some cards basically prevent the necessary act of looting, while others just blow up the table and make everyone start from scratch to counter that nasty ability. So your strategy at any given point isn't necessarily sustainable. It's very much a game "of the moment", where your success might depend on the order in which you drop your looterz or combine them. The first time you play, it may seem like the game is "broken" because some cards are overpowered, but in reality, there are several counters to even the most powerful of cards and you'll eventually get a card in hand that undoes the curse. Get cursed too many times, however, and it may be hard to make a comeback.
Theme
The basics of the game are fine - recruit looterz into your party, then have them loot, steal, attack and otherwise build your hoard. But the characters on the cards don't necessarily make sense AS looterz. Why are there Kings and Queens in addition to Archers and Thieves? Would these really go down into a dungeon? I guess monsters can loot (think of Smaug), but your team will be an uneasy alliance of heroes and monsters (and monarchs). Where there definitely is some thematic flavor is in the cards' special abilities. They're not ALL great (why does the Phoenix resurrect ANOTHER creature, for example?), but most are quite fun (the Gelatinous Cube eats another looter and adds its hit points, for example). Certainly, the booklet's many tips and examples have fun justifying the game effects in "real world" fashion. As a D&D experience, the fact that characters have hit points and a roll-under mechanic (albeit a single Attribute/Skill) isn't lost on this old gamer.

Components
The pictures on the cards have a fun enough design, like clean deco manga or something, though they're not quite as humorous as their cartoonyness would have seemed to allow. The rules booklet takes it from fun to funny. The dice are a nice sumptuous purple. The coins really have two sides (crown and sword) and pleasantly clink despite being light plastic. And then there are the heart tokens meant to represent hit points. Hearts? Yes. But I've never played with people who didn't immediately compare them to testicles. Upside down testes, but testes nonetheless. Perhaps a flat heart token might have been a better choice? Though these are eminently easy to grab off a card.
House Rules and Expansions
The game specifies that the specific number of coins victory goal is only a suggestion. You COULD play for more, or until none were left in the pot.

In conclusion: Not to be taken too seriously, Looterz is a wild, chaotic game that rewards adaptability. You just can't run a long-term strategy and there's too much luck involved anyway. But a fun and colorful half hour to kick start your evening or to wind it down.

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