Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Tobias Hall


No. of Players:



G@mebox author Lutz Wildt writes about the game:

Vito Don Corleone, Marsellus Wallace and Auric Goldfinger, who doesn't know them, the infamous greats of fictional crime history. The Godfather, Pulp Fiction and James Bond, these films thrive on their great villains with their elaborate and devious schemes. But what would these crooks be without their henchmen, who faithfully stand by them and get their fingers dirty for them? At the very least, they certainly would not have become so successful and would not have risen to become true underworld giants. But unlike the names of the big bosses, their henchmen are not so well known to the masses. However, they are well known to the true cineastes and connoisseurs of film crime: Luca Brasi, the infernal duo of Jules Winnfield and Vincent Vega, or the bowler hat-wearing Oddjob! Brutal and loyal henchmen, these thugs help their bosses by putting their skills and energy to work for them. They do most of the work as hard-working crooks. As a viewer, haven't you ever felt the desire to slip into the role of one of these criminals? Thanks to the game Goons by Tobias Hall, published by the small independent game publisher ALLORNONEGAMES, that's no problem!


Click on image to enlarge!

In Goons, players try to launch an exciting and successful career as the henchmen of half-baked bad guys with their often half-baked schemes. In Goons, the bosses have euphonious names like Jolly Butcher, Kid Random or Lady Darmondy. Players try to scam as much money as possible in the roles of Dennis, Unni or Charlie in order to rise in reputation in the crook ranking and buy useful equipment for crooks. Players can earn victory points both by participating in successful plans of the bosses, as well as by the collected inventory and the accumulated loot. The player who has collected most victory points after 3 rounds is the most cunning petty criminal and wins the game.

Sounds pretty violent. However, the game is not as brutal as it seems at first glance. Goons comes in a wonderful comic design that reminds me a bit of the depiction of the members of the great comic character band the Gorillaz. The gameplay of this strategy game is comparatevely non-violent, as was also the case with Dictopia, Tobias Hall's debut work. By swapping cubes between the game board and crib boards, players are allowed to perform actions on the game board. However, the possible actions are much more extensive and complex compared to Dicetopia. In addition, in Goons the colours of the cubes and the action spaces on the player board are very decisive for the course of the game. To better understand the flow of the game, I would first like to introduce the game board.


Click on image to enlarge!

It is divided into four districts that have different colours (red, yellow, green and blue) and are home to the corresponding actions. Of course, in each of the quarters there is also a villain who is trying to do his crooked thing and needs the support of the players to do so. Also, in each neighbourhood there is the possibility to participate in small hustle actions to get some cool advantages. However, the crucial element is the central area of the board, which is a square covering all four inner corners of the quarters. It consists of a grid with a total of 100 Action Cubes in the colours of the respective districts, randomly distributed over the entire grid. Before the game can really get started, a quick look at the players' crib boards is necessary. This is where the selected Goon Card as well as the money and energy markers can be placed, and there is also a grid with five rows and four columns. Each row represents a turn in the game and has four cribs in the respective colours of the districts. Got it? Let's go!

The play itself is quite simple at first. A player may take his one available cube from the grid and then place it on any space of the first row of the grid on his crib board. At the beginning of the game, only the cubes at the corners of the grid are available on the board. Subsequently, the neighbouring coloured cubes may also be taken (but beware 20 grey cubes hinder progress, since they simply lie around as junk). As already mentioned, the colours of the Action Cubes and the Action Spaces play an important role here. The player may perform two actions in any order. A first one, which is assigned to the colour of the Action Cube and a second one for the colour of the Action Space. Now it gets a bit more complex! Each colour is assigned to a district and each district has different Location Actions. In the red district you can train in the dojo to get Energy Markers, in the yellow district you can work in the diner to get money for it, which you can spend again in the supermarket of the green district for practical equipment. Working and Crook is a strange combination, but such a baseball bat, which you can buy for the money, can certainly be advantageous for a villain (it definitely earns 5 victory points). In the blue quarter you can visit the nightclub and may swap 2 action cubes on the grid for it. Maybe you can create a little order or disorder on the grid if necessary. But back to the energy that was trained. As you know, there is a boss in every district. For each round there is a Villain Scheme at the Boss, where the players can participate with two Energy Markers, if they can perform the color action of the corresponding district. At the end of a round (i.e. after 4 turns), these Schemes are evaluated and the players share in the proceeds of a successful Scheme. Each of the six Villains has five schemes. Most importantly, each Villain has a different concept. With The Doctor, players get a set reward depending on the number of Energy Markers used, which is slightly different for each plan. With Kid Random, on the other hand, the number of dice rolled is equal to the number of Energy Markers used by all players. If the dice result reaches a pre-specified level, the plan is successful. Players then receive rewards in the order in which they placed Energy Markers. The player who has placed the most energy receives the largest reward. Rewards each consist of victory points, money, energy, or steps on the Hustle Tracks. This represents the last opportunity to perform its color action. On the way up, players can also get the above rewards here. Additionally, players who are at the top of the Hustle Track at the end of the game will receive 5 victory points. After each round, the Villain Schemes are scored and a new plan is revealed. After 3 rounds the game ends, all victory points from equipment, available money, remaining energy and tracks (if applicable) are added. The player with the most victory points wins the game as the best Henchman.


Click on image to enlarge!

I'm really a righteous man, but in Goons I had a lot of fun slipping into the role of a small-time bandit! Visually, the game is quite eye-catching with its great graphics and the huge pile of cubes. The gameplay, however, has completely hooked me. In the first moves you are still unsure what you should and can do. With each new turn this gets clearer, but then again from round to round the possible actions get more limited, as the space on the crib board decreases and you no longer have all the requested colours available on the Action Spaces. In addition, the variety and inventiveness of the Villains' equipment and schemes is enormous. Fortunately, someone has given his creativity free rein here. In Goons, you really have to be careful that you don't get taken advantage of by your opponents, since they can still thwart your plans at the last moment. Goons is a really complex strategy game, in which you have to think carefully about how and where to use your energy. At the same time, you should always be on the lookout for what your fellow players are up to. It didn't end well for Luca Brasi. However, I've always been able to get my head out of the noose so far. So thumbs up for Goons! If you want to be a Henchman too, keep an eye on Kickstarter. There will be a new campaign soon, where you will have the opportunity to buy the base game as well as an expansion to the game. I'll definitely be looking around the colourful neighbourhoods again soon.

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