Games Item ID: #15
No-Go-Zone is a miniatures boardgame from Warm Acre, the makers of Hour of Glory.
In Brief: Binge Britain, Booze Britain, Police Camera Action… there is no end to the list of tv shows that make the most of today’s culture on the streets of Britain. Watching the police take on the football fans, prostitutes and vandals in a fight for the streets is apparently almost as much a part of daily life as taking part in those fights. Under 18s may have taken the brunt of government reforms but they are not alone, as Warm Acre says “On the streets, a war is raging…”. Now we get to take it to the table.
The majority of modern day wargames are focused on current warzones such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Palistine. The streets of Britain are not the first thing to spring to mind when looking at this genre. For Warm Acre however it is exactly what came to mind and they set out to make it happen. This is not about oil, terrorists or religion, this is about Law and Chaos. Some gamers feel that it is inappropriate to play modern era wargames as it is disrespectful to the men and women actually losing their lives in these conflicts. If you are one of these people, this is not going to be a game for you and it is time to stop reading this review. Similarly objections raised regarding this game, it seems to glamorise the live fast, die young lifestyle that can be seen all too often on the streets of Britain on a Friday/Saturday night with vandals, hooligans and prostitutes clashing with police and even medics on a weekly basis. Ultimately these games are about the here and now, they can show how hard it is to find a solution that works, what is at stake in these conflicts. This game also contains explicit language and deals with binge drinking, prostitution & violence; definitely not for those easily offended.
The actions each side can perform are dependent on the threat/force levels that are currently in effect. As these levels increase, the stakes are upped and the more powerful characters each side can use. The aim is to gain respect through a series of actions that depend on which side you are playing, for law the aim is to arrest criminals and use your presence to prevent crimes, for chaos you want to vandalise, keep the prostitutes employed and attack police/citizens. If one side loses all it’s respect, then they loose. New models enter play through different entry points, vandals arrive through late shops, hooligans through pubs and police in vehicles from road ends. The most creative aspect to the game is the method of determining outcomes, instead of using dice as is usual in wargames or even drawing cards which has also been successfully implemented in some rulesets, the game uses a variant of rock, paper, scissors which has five hand signs (each one beats 2 of the others and loses to the other 2). Although initially complex to learn, this makes for an interesting game where you have to read your opponent in order to make the best outcome. The game also has special abilities for different characters such that if they win using a particular hand sign, they get a bonus to their outcome (eg double the respect).
The rules can be bought as a full-colour softback for £10 or as a pdf when you buy the complete rules and miniatures set for £40. The book provides all the rules you will need to play, and also include the tokens and road pieces as well as card cut-outs to construct very detailed 3D card vehicles for the patrol car, police van and ambulance. The inclusion of these extras is a very nice touch and although paper vehicles are not most people’s first choice, it’s a good start. The book has a couple of typos in it, however the rules are well presented and clear to follow. Checking rules during the game is hardly necessary, even in the first game and on those rare occasions it is required, the relevant section can be found straight away.
The miniatures that Warm Acre produce to go alongside the game are very well sculpted ‘true’ 28mm figures and come with a sculpted metal base and a plastic base.
No Go Zone is one of a kind game with creative mechanics and fun play that feels a lot less luck dependent than other rulesets as you constantly try to out-guess your opponent. This is a game to look at.