Stand by for action! Danger Zone is a cooperative card game for 2-6 players which replicates episodes from the Thunderbirds TV series from the 1960s. It may be almost 60 years since Gerry Anderson's iconic puppet series first aired but Thunderbirds is still a very recognisable IP, and designer Andrew Harman and publisher YAY Games have brought it to life in this game that's very much based on the teamwork represented by Thunderbirds' International Rescue - the organisation that included the Tracy family, Brains and Lady Penelope.
The game comes with seven playable missions of varying difficulty, each based on a specific episode of the TV series. You can also alter the difficulty level of individual missions by setting higher or lower the countdown marker that acts as your game 'timer' by marking off each failed attempt to meet a mission's resource requirements.
To play, you choose a mission. Shown here on Board's Eye View is the 'End of the Road' mission, which is the easiest of the seven. The mission's three Danger Zone cards each set out the resources needed to resolve the card but before you can attempt a Danger Zone card you need to meet the requirements of the 'Journey' cards that are placed beneath it. Both the Danger Zone and Journey cards set out on them the number of resources required: Fuel, Tech, Knowledge and Team Spirit. The Journey cards also have a randomised token placed on them. This will either show resources, which you can optionally use to count towards the card's requirements, or the Hood (arch-enemy of the International Rescue team), who adds to that card's requirements.
Players each start off with a hand of three resource cards. Again these show a mix of each of the four resources. The player who is designated for the round as Jeff Tracy (the patriarch of the family) decides which resource to go for and which card the team is attempting to tackle. Players each then choose one card from their hand which they play face down. Jeff Tracy chooses which two cards to use and these are revealed. If the total number of resources on the chosen cards exactly matches the required number, it's a success and a token is placed on the appropriate position on the Journey or Danger Zone card to mark off that resource. If the cards show too few or too many of the required resource, Jeff Tracy has the option of trying to meet the requirement by swapping one of the cards for a card in his hand. Succeed or fail, the Jeff Tracy role is taken on by the next player, and all players except for new Jeff draw back up to three cards.
There's more, in that you can use the characters from International Rescue to help meet requirements, and most missions use Pod and Equipment cards which also need to be resourced, but that's pretty much how the game plays. At first it can seem fairly random: tho' it's a fully cooperative game and everyone wants the team to meet precisely the right number of resources, you're not allowed to pre-announce how many resources you're contributing and the Jeff Tracy player initially has nothing to go on in deciding which cards to reveal (in a two- or three-player game, they won't anyway have a choice; with two players a second card is simply taken face down from the draw pile). As play progresses, however, players will increasingly be able to hazard deductions about what resources others are able to play. It'll rely on players' good memory, of course, but when Jeff Tracy swaps a card, the other players know what card he has added to his hand... FAB!
The countdown timer gives a tension to the game that matches the climactic tension of the original series. If you achieve overall mission success it'll usually only be within a tick or two of the countdown. As you attempt the last Danger Zone card requirements with the countdown marker on its final spot, you can almost hear Brains lamenting 'We're not gonna make it! We're not gonna make it!'
(Review by Selwyn Ward)
𝘍𝘶𝘯 𝘍𝘢𝘤𝘵: 𝘛𝘰𝘯𝘺 𝘉𝘭𝘢𝘪𝘳'𝘴 𝘋𝘪𝘳𝘦𝘤𝘵𝘰𝘳 𝘰𝘧 𝘊𝘰𝘮𝘮𝘶𝘯𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴 𝘈𝘭𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘪𝘳 𝘊𝘢𝘮𝘱𝘣𝘦𝘭𝘭 𝘯𝘪𝘤𝘬𝘯𝘢𝘮𝘦𝘥 𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘤𝘰𝘭𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘨𝘶𝘦 𝘋𝘢𝘷𝘪𝘥 𝘔𝘪𝘭𝘪𝘣𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘢𝘴 '𝘉𝘳𝘢𝘪𝘯𝘴'. 𝘞𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘋𝘢𝘷𝘪𝘥 𝘔𝘪𝘭𝘪𝘣𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘭𝘦𝘧𝘵 𝘗𝘢𝘳𝘭𝘪𝘢𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵, 𝘩𝘦 𝘸𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘰𝘯 𝘵𝘰 𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘥 𝘐𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘯𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘢𝘭 𝘙𝘦𝘴𝘤𝘶𝘦 - 𝘵𝘩𝘰' 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘐𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘯𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘢𝘭 𝘙𝘦𝘴𝘤𝘶𝘦 𝘪𝘴 𝘢 𝘩𝘶𝘮𝘢𝘯𝘪𝘵𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘢𝘯 𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘵𝘺 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘛𝘩𝘶𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘳𝘣𝘪𝘳𝘥𝘴!