It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Neuroshima Hex. I dig the post-apocalyptic theme, explosive yet abstracted theme and how nicely it scales for different player numbers. So once I found out there were other games set in the Neuroshima Universe I was intrigued to try a few. And that is exactly what we have here with Neuroshima Convoy. It sees the Outpost trying to stop the Moloch from destroying what is left of New York. This is a two-player asymmetrical card game with players deploying troops, special weapons and abilities to try and outwit their opponent.
The game is set up with different district boards and the Moloch player is trying to get from the start to the end so that they can win. The Outpost player is trying to make the Moloch player burn through their deck before they reach New York. On each player’s turn, they can play as many cards as they want in any of the districts on the board and once both players have done so there is a battle. You add up the strength of each side and the higher one is the winner. If it is the Outpost then they get to discard cards off the top of the Moloch players deck, and if they lose then Moloch blows up that area and moves onto the next. When Moloch wins they also get to kill off a few pesky soldiers on their way as well. Play continues like this until one side is the winner.
However, almost every card has a special ability that triggers under specific circumstances. This might mean discarding Moloch cards when they enter the battlefield, letting you move locations once per turn or letting you win ties. The key to winning in Neuroshima Convoy is making the most of these abilities and using them to whittle down your opponent. Playing as many cards as you want is a brilliant double-edged sword as you need to pick your moment to unleash furry onto your enemy as the Outpost with soldiers in early locations being left behind. It also means picking your battles as the Moloch as you don’t want to run out of cards but at the same time you need to weaken your enemy for the climactic final confrontation.
One of the things that Neuroshima Convoy does excellently is build up to a final confrontation. By the time Moloch arrives in New York, both sides are considerably weakened and need to maximise everything to make sure that they stay in the fight. This means that the closer you get to that final battle, the tenser each turn becomes until you put it all out there and either win or lose. And this all fits neatly into a good 30-minute experience. So far so, this game is great.
So now for the less good. Neuroshima Convoy can be very ‘take that’ and by that I mean you’ll have both players just doing things that their opponent won’t be able to do anything about and it often feels quite unfair. This is especially true for the first few times you play the game. Once you’ve got a few rounds under your belt and you roughly know what to expect from the cards then you know the scope of possibilities but until then things can feel a little cheap. Due to this fact, you can’t have too much of a long term strategy as the board state and shifts constantly. And while that constant movement is one of my favourite things in Neuroshima Hex, it doesn’t work as well here. The scope of possibility is far larger than Hex and that means rather than knowing your enemy will play two tiles they might play anywhere from 1-6 cards that could do anything. This can mean that winning a game of Neuroshima Convoy feels like it can happen by chance.
Another small gripe is landscape cards. While they are a neat idea and mean that you get some bold pictures and make sense in theory, holding a hand of them is awkward. While this isn’t a deal break it does mean that the game is uncomfortable to play. Will it ruin the game? No. Will it make you twist your neck weirdly and drop a hand of cards while trying to fan them landscapes? Yes.
Having said all of that I still enjoy playing Neuroshima Convoy. It’s a fun, light two-player game that you get more out of the more you play. I also enjoy it as an extension to a Universe of a game I love, and if you are a Neuroshima Hex fan then you might get the same mileage. I don’t think I can fully recommend it but if the positives I mentioned got you excited to give it a shot then I think they outweigh the negatives most of the time, especially as you become more familiar with the cards.
Thanks for reading. If you would like more Neuroshima content check out my review of the base game or the expansions. Alterntively, for more board games here is my review of Kemet.
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