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Groo: The Game

Publisher: Archangel
Reviewed by Debbie Pickett
Reproduced here with kind permission from Funagain Games.

Groosome

Groo is a typical barbarian; he leaves a long trail of destruction behind him, not because he is particularly aggressive, but just because that's what barbarians DO.

In this card game, based on the comic of the same name by Sergio Aragones, players are trying to build towns, and protect them from the destruction that is bound to come from other towns' armies and Groo himself. Towns are built by rolling six resource dice, which can show either labour, supplies or kopins (the currency in the game); you then spend some of those six resources to build a building which carries with it a number of victory points and perhaps a special power. (Any resources you don't use are available to other players, going round the table.) You can also spend the resources to build an army, which you will use to defend your town against attacks from other players. In attacking, you send your troops against another town, and any that get through the defending army start razing buildings.

Sounds easy? Enter Groo. Groo starts at the town of the dealer, and along with the six resource dice a Groo movement die is also rolled, which will move Groo to another player's town. Why is this important? Because the fourth symbol that may appear on the production dice is the Groo head symbol, which may only be spent on Groo effects cards. Most of these cards pretty much decimate the town and army of the player that Groo is in front of.

Needless to say, the game can get pretty vindictive. This is part of the charm of the game, however; it's simply not possible to take anything in the game seriously, and while there's a little control, long-term strategy doesn't really enter into it. Pretty much anyone could win, given the right cards.

I've never read any of Aragones' long-running comic, but I'm told by those who have that the game carries very much the same flavour as the comic. I imagine there are plenty of in-jokes in the game.

Groo: the Game is entertaining and plays best with four people, though it works with as few as two. Also available is an expansion deck which adds some interesting cards and allows up to six to play, more in a pinch. For good random fun, Groo is a great specimen. Just watch out for those Groo heads.

Room to Groo

To be honest, I've actually forgotten which cards came with the basic set of cards in Groo: the Game, and which came with the expansion; they're all long since shuffled together. This suggests that not only do I have amnesia, but also that the expansion for this game integrates seamlessly with its predecessor.

Ostensibly, Groo: the Expansion allows you to play Groo with up to six players. I have actually played it with nine and it still worked, though it was quite a while between turns (and because you do stuff out of your turn too it's often difficult to remember whose turn it is). The expansion is also fine for as few as two players - it just takes a long time to go through the deck.

Some part of me still remembers that the few games I played before getting the expansion were a little too basic, so on that shining endorsement I heartily recommend Groo: the Expansion!

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