Gretchinz!

Whilst taking some time off from being kicked around by their Ork masters, the Gretchin are having a bit of fun: a race across the wasteland with a splash of casual violence for good measure, all for the entertainment of the Ork Klans.

Gretchinz! from Devir games, designed by Roberto Fraga and Yohan Lemonnier, is a fast and entertaining game set in the Warhammer 40k universe. 2–4 players (or up to 8 with two copies of the game) each take their hand of cards and Klan player board depicting their unique special power. They then line up their buggy on the start line... The starting gun fires towards the cheering crowds: it seems that public safety is not the number one priority! Engines roar to life. The race is underway.

There are no turns, at least in respect of the dice rolling. Players frantically, simultaneously, roll their three dice repeatedly, storing on their board any rolls they wish to keep. The first to collect all three results they want screams their best Ork 'Waaaaagh!' and all players must keep the results they currently have. Each player then resolves their dice in turn, in the hope of traversing the random terrain cards toward the finish line without exploding along the way.

The game makes clever use of its double-sided deck of cards: one side depicting the different types of terrain that are randomly placed whenever a buggy reaches the edge of the map, and the hidden side (from the player but not their opponents) showing hits, problems or explosions. You are holding cards in your hand with the crucial content facing away from you, just like in Antoine Bauza's Hanabi (Abacusspiele). And there's a peculiar pleasure in knowing that an opponent is unwittingly heading for disaster. Different terrain has differing effects on card draws and continued movement, with some special terrains even letting you steal opponents cards.

Depending on the dice results picked, the Gretchin will either advance, swerving to the left or right (these rickety old buggies don’t do straight ahead), attack another buggy or destroy terrain by playing cards from their hand and hoping they’re hits; problems and explosions cards set your own buggy on fire. They may also perform their Klan ability or use The Eye Of Mork, which requires their opponents to tell them how many hit cards the player has in hand, thus giving them an edge in future combat.

Once all dice are resolved the round begins anew, with more dice rolling and cries of 'Waaaaagh!' As you might expect, the winner is the first to cross the finish line.

The length and width of the track is up to the players so game time is variable, but even the longest of games with one deck would not run much more than 30 minutes. There’s a fair amount of luck in the cards, both for terrain and combat, and your best laid plan for the coming round will rarely come to fruition. We found the leader will always be picked on and probably spend a few rounds putting out the fires in their buggy. However a lead of more than few rows of cards is hard to best, and it would have been good to have had a better catch up mechanism, maybe by changing the mostly pointless clan abilities.

Overall, Gretchinz! is a fun filler game that can be adapted to the time and play area you have available. It will definitely have extra appeal for Warhammer 40k fans and the 8+ age group at which the game is aimed.

(Review by Greg White)

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