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A girl's final thoughts of being in a horror movie

Updated: Jan 27


Left: The Hans box of the Final girl game range. It has 'FINAL GIRL' in a red font with a white border at the top, in the foreground there is a cartoon blonde girl with a side parting, she is frowning, has cuts and blood on her face, the tips of her hair look dirty and her clothing is torn, behind her is a forest scene and some kind of cabin  in the woods, an overalled man is in the background holding a metal mallet and wearing a metallic pig mask. Centre: The Final Girl core box. The box is brown and has 'FINAL GIRL' written in a darker brown, with the words CORE BOX underneath in smaller white text. Right: The Geppetto Final girl game box. The background shows a circus scene with a creepy-looking ring master with little puppets and in front an Asian girl who is frowning and has cuts and bruises to her face, neck and upper chest, her clothing is very torn.

Player count: Solo only Ages: 14+ Playtime: 20-60 minutes (if you're lucky!)


Overview

You've probably heard of Final Girl by now if you're in any which way into solo gaming. You're also probably sick to death of hearing about it. Either that, or you're sadistic enough to love its gruesome and gory nature, and a few more murders will only whet your appetite more! Final Girl is a solo-only game from Van Rhyder Games (www.vanrydergames.com) in which you play the final girl in a classic style horror movie, and is based off the card driven mechanics of Hostage Negotiator from 2015. In each feature film box, there is a map and a killer, and your task is to bring down the killer before they bring down you. By playing cards from your hand and rolling dice to determine how successful your action was; you can move, search for items, attack, distract and focus your efforts into saving the lives of innocent bystanders and friends and planting that killing blow. With any remaining 'time' left at the end of your turn, you can buy cards from the card market to be played later in the game.


Then sit back and wait for the killer to come closer...and closer...and ATTACK!

Gameplay

The game is split into an action phase, a planning phase, a killer phase, a panic phase and an upkeep phase. Now that's a lot of phases, but the turns in this game play pretty quickly. The action phase is where you can play any number of cards from your hand to do various actions, then rolling the number of dice as determined by the horror level and resolving it according to how successful, or unsuccessful your roll is. This may mean you don't always complete the action you wanted, and may in fact do damage to you or end your turn early. With a good roll however you will be zipping around the board, saving countless lives (and gaining one time or a permanent bonus from this), and boofing the killer in the face with a machete you just found in a shed before skipping across the lake to safety. Once you have finished playing all cards that you wish to play from your hand, you can move onto the planning phase.


Time is a currency in this game, and this may be gained or lost by playing certain cards or rolling well or badly. With any time leftover at the end of the action phase you may purchase cards from the market (up to a hand size of ten) with various new and more powerful effects. You start the game with a hand of six cards which cost 0 time to buy, so any of these cards may be taken back into your hand for free, but only if they were not played on the most recent action phase.




At the beginning of the game, the killer phase seems like a walk in the park. Each killer has a base action which may be, at the start, just an attack. So if there's nothing in his space, you can just relax and have a cuppa. Once they have lopped a head off a victim however, their bloodlust increases, which in turn increases their movement range, attack power, and may grant them extra abilities throughout the game which turns them into a formidable opponent. With the killer action however at least you can plan accordingly as this is printed on their board...until... the terror card is drawn from a stack of ten (there's many more in the box, ten are drawn each game), which often involves the killer leaping across great distances to reach his beloved final girl, brandishing his weapon at a couple of victims or drawing some nasty dark powers which give them a temporary boost.


In typical horror film fashion, if a kill has been made, once the killer has finished lopping for the turn, every victim left on the map in their space panics. Or you hope, as a die roll determines if they panic or not. Sometimes you just can't account for stupid, and they stand there face to face with Mr Bloodyaxe and take a pass at running for safety.


Along your journey you may be lucky enough to find various items and weapons, and the upkeep phase is where you can rearrange items from your hands to your backpack and vice versa. Apparently the killer won't wait for you whilst you unzip your backpack to obtain your knife whilst in the action phase...how impatient!


Once the stack of ten terror cards is depleted, if both the final girl and the killer are still standing, their finale card is revealed which turns them from a formidable killer to a bloodlusting, horrifying and very agile specimen. The game only ends once either your or the killer's health is depleted.


Production

This game is produced to a very high quality - from the beautiful maps to the terrifying killer artwork, the miniature victim meeples and the chunky dice. It all looks great. The storage system is clever, but I do think there is a problem; I think this game is a very good example of board game bloat. You must have seen the HUGE all in content for season one and the newly released season two, which are very cleverly designed to look like a box of videos and video player - very retro. That's all very well but a lot of people, me included, were only interested in picking up a couple of feature film boxes and not the entire season. The storage for this game is very much designed for people who have everything. My feature film boxes are in the most part, empty, because I do not have the miniatures, and they force you to purchase at least once feature film alongside the core box before you can play the game. This means my core box holds most of the content, and the two feature film boxes I have hold just the scenario specific cards, which take up very little room, but which takes up much more significant shelf space. Despite this however, the storage is a brilliant idea where the killer board and the map are magnetised to the box forming the front and back of the box and keeping the empty air pockets nice and cosy. It does look good on a shelf.



Conclusion

Now how did I like being preyed upon by a mad killer?


Replayability

I have the core box and two feature films from season one; Camp Happy Trails and Carnival of Blood. This gives me the option of playing with four different final girls (two are included in each feature film), two killers, and two maps. These are all fully interchangeable to keep each game feeling fresh and exciting. Each location and each killer also has specific terror cards, setup cards, event cards and item cards, which may or may not appear in each game, and by mixing and matching - this provides quite a variety in experience. The killers do play quite different, for example Hans the Butcher has no additional rules and for the most part just moves and attacks, whereas Geppetto the Puppet Master summons puppet minions on his turn which can move and attack separately to him, whilst remaining within two spaces of their master (they are on strings after all!). Great replayability to be had in a small amount of content for this game...so I remain unsure on the need for more.


Production Value

Excellent quality, but I was put out initially on finding out I had to buy a minimum of two boxes to play. Some may consider the price point therefore too much for this type of game.


Theme

Each game feels and plays like a horror movie, with the story unfolding differently each time and with climatic moments of euphoria and moments that are downright grim. For the entire time I'm playing this game I am on the edge of my seat with agonising decisions about whether to take the time to grab that weapon, save that person, or to stop wasting time and hit the killer with all I have. I feel it and am living it in the moment. The absolute BEST bit about this game I think are the final health tokens. At the beginning of the game you shuffle the tokens together and, without looking at their underside, deal one to the final girl and one to the killer as their final health. When you or the killer deal what is deemed to be the final blow which would finish the other off, the token is flipped to reveal either a blank or a number of additional health tokens! So you may find that your final girl is bleeding out and dragging herself across the floor, the killer swings his sledgehammer and hits her in the back, only to find that the token has two more additional health and she pops back up again after mustering some extra strength! Brilliant part of the gameplay which produces a very exciting game end.


Complexity

Nothing too complex in this game but there are a number of smaller, fiddly rules that may need a number of reads of the rulebook to get your head round them. In addition, each killer and map may have additional and unique rules to keep on track of, adding complexity.


Rules

Pretty clear, especially if you know the Hostage Negotiator system. You may need to re-read them once you have played through once to ensure your movement etc are all correct (learned this the hard way!).


Uniqueness

Of course, putting Hostage Negotiator aside, the card system combined with the dice rolling feels nice and fresh. The theme flows through this game in a way I have not much experienced before. Now, there is definitely some way of mitigating awful dice rolls in this game, but is it enough for everyone I wonder...


Value

Pretty good - despite my misgivings above I do feel I have a good amount of content and replayability with the core and two feature films. This price point may be too much for some however considering the game is solo only. Finally, Van Rhyder have included the ability to create your own final girl and items on their website! Definitely a fun way to expand and customise your game if this becomes a favourite of yours (http://makeyourownfinalgirl.vanrydergames.com/).


A d6 die face showing five pips, each pip the head of Ink the imp, the DOALG mascot.

Rating- 5 out of 6 Rhiannon, Blue Dog Board Games (https://youtube.com/@rhiannonhollands8731)



A note from co-founder Mr Dan Face:

I love this game, so I'm hijacking some of my own comments onto this great review! As a fan of solo games and horror movies, this game was right up my street! Lots of replayability with all the modular components and with their VHS box design, they look great on a shelf! I've only played against Hans so far, so I've barely scratched the surface. But, I look forward to playing against many other iconic monsters inspired from many classic horror movies, such as poltergeists and serial killers who hunt people in their dreams, nasty but exciting stuff! My only word of warning for people considering this game is that you must be wary of the mercy of the dice gods. If you roll badly, the game can seem very cruel and could be frustrating if you are not prepared for it. My advice would be to just try and imagine the game as a literal movie, where the aim of the game is not to just "win". But rather create an awesome story. Where you can cheer on the heroine to survive against all odds! And then shriek in terror as you try to move one space, roll a fail and she trips over her shoelaces and damages herself face first right in front the of the killer. All part of the experience!


A d6 die face showing five pips, each pip the head of Ink the imp, the DOALG mascot.

Score wise, I agree with the above review and would give this a 5 out of 6. DanFace




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