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Wreck and Ruin: Can You Survive the Wastes in This Post-Apocalyptic Board Game?

Wreck and Ruin
(All photos of Dream Big Games product were taken and edited by KristaG unless otherwise stated)

In the vein of Mad Max (and all of its sequels), Doomsday, or many other movies of the Post Apocalyptic genre, Wreck and Ruin brings a similar experience to the table top. This 2-4 player miniatures board game allows players to take command of one of four factions (Salvoes, Reapers, Ruin Army, or Desertkin) and pit them against one another while also trying to survive environmental conditions, random events, and compete for resources and salvage. Amidst the skirmishes and flaming wrecks, players will also test their salvaging, shooting, and driving skills. At the end of the day, it’s just another typical day in the Wastes and everyone is just trying to survive!

The painted sculpts being offered as part of the Kickstarter campaign.
(photo from the Wreck & Ruin Kickstarter, miniatures painted by Michael Mordor)

Wreck and Ruin launched on Kickstarter in May 2018. The campaign has been fairly successful compared to previous attempts. The game itself was designed by Mark McKinnon of Dream Big Games and even features his own artwork! As stated above, it is for 2-4 players. Wreck and Ruin also utilizes a modular board with a hex map, a little bit of hand management, and some one-use player powers that are determined by both a player’s faction and the faction card they are given. Though classified as a board game, in the mind of this reviewer it is really more of a blend between a board game and a classic skirmish game such as Battletech or Epic. I say this because I feel there’s more involved than in your typical board game, but Wreck and Ruin doesn’t feel like a full-on war game either due to the scale.

An example set up for a 3 player game.

Setting up a game of Wreck and Ruin depends on the player count and the map layouts are included in the rulebook. The main difference between the setups will be the placement of the “set up tiles” and how many random tiles will be used to create the 6-tile map. Set up tiles are the tiles upon which a player will deploy their troops once the game begins. When placing the central tile, however, it is very important that certain hexes are free of hazards and terrain as that is where the starting piles of salvage will go. The Turn Marker can be tucked in pretty much anywhere on the edges, but the rulebook shows it to be placed on the left side of the map; the “Bullet Marker” needs to be facing the “1” at the top of the round marker during set up. To finish getting the map ready to play on, 4 Salvage tokens are placed red side up in the spaces that are marked in the rule book. Once the map is set up, all of the cards should be separated into their respective decks (Event, Salvage, and each individual faction) and shuffled accordingly. Each player will then choose which faction they would like to represent. Each player will draw one card at random from their respective Faction deck (the others will be returned to the box) and collect their color-coordinated crew of vehicles and dice (Desertkin = yellow, Ruin Army = green, Reapers = red, and Salvoes = blue). Each crew is made up of 5 vehicles: 1 Big Rig, 2 Scouts (motorcycles/bikes), 2 Buggies, and 1 Wrecker. Players will also each get 5 Action Point (AP) tokens.

The first round of the game is actually the “Set Up Round” or deployment round. Each player gets a turn to deploy their vehicles in their starting zone, the Bullet Marker is shifted to “Round 2”, and then the actual gameplay begins! As the beginning of each round, an Event card is revealed by the first player. The card is read aloud and placed face up for everyone to see. Each event also stays in play for the entire round and is resolved at the start of each player’s turn (this can lead to some very brutal earthquakes!!). Once the Event has been resolved on a player’s turn, that player may then spend up to their 5 AP tokens to perform actions during their turn. There are a total of 7 different actions that can be performed during a players turn: Moving a Vehicle, Attack a Target Within Range, Ram an Adjacent Vehicle, Search a Wreck for Salvage, Search the Area for Salvage, Attempt to Repair a Wreck, or Bring a Vehicle Back on the Board. Each action only costs 1 AP. However, there are certain rules that apply to performing these actions. For example, vehicles are only able to spend 2 AP each and each of those AP must be spent on a different action so actions such as moving, attacking, ramming, or searching wrecks can only be performed once by each vehicle during a turn (not that you would ever have enough action points for all of your vehicles to get to do this). The remaining actions, though, are not performed by the vehicles and can be performed more than once in a turn. Each action is explained in depth in the rulebook. As the game progresses, players will have earned Salvage. When a player collects Salvage, they not only end up with a victory point at the end of the game, but they receive a Salvage card from the top of the Salvage deck. Salvage cards will tell players specifically when it can be played as well as what they do. For example, “2 For The Price Of 1” can only be played when bringing a vehicle back onto the board, but will allow that player to also return a 2nd, lower classed vehicle for free. The game lasts until the Bullet Marker hits the Round Marker designated by the player count (4 player rounds only go for 4 rounds, but 2 player rounds last for 6), but there are ways to shorten or extend these rules as well as several other gameplay variants including team play or last man standing!

Desertkin = my current favorite faction to play as!

Wreck and Ruin is a game I have personally been interested in since it’s first campaign attempt in October 2017. Getting to actually play it has made the wait worth it! The only concern I have is that people may try to take the events far too seriously. This is not the typical heavy, deep strategy, super kill-y, number-crunching war game that myself and several others that frequent my game group tend to play. Instead, this is a game that I would take down to my local pub, bar, or cafe and play while just hanging out and having a good time. If you try to take this game super seriously, you may end up frustrated as all of your plans quickly unravel with a well (or poorly) timed earthquake goes off and decimates your crew in a round. For me, though, that’s all part of the fun. There is a little bit of math involved when it comes to figuring out combat, but it’s really light in comparison to so many other war games. In fact, I would probably even use the math involved to help younger players work on their math skills. I’ve now played as several of the factions and I think my favorite ones would have to be the Desertkin followed very closely by the Reapers. Though they play very differently, both work with the play styles that I tend to use and, with the Desertkin, I can usually pull off a few extra victory points than when I play as other factions. I also really love the “Unpredictable Wastes” variant! It is such a small rule change, yet can create a huge difference in the game depending on what gets rolled on the dice! I think my only real complaint is that the rulebook is very daunting when it comes to trying to get your first game put together. Once you’ve played your first game, however, the layout and the wording all makes perfect sense and it even makes future games far easier! The campaign for Wreck and Ruin ends on June 28th so I highly recommend checking it out if this is a genre that appeals to you!

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