A preview copy of After the Virus was provided by Lion Rampant Imports. We would like to thank Lion Rampant Imports for supporting our blog. All thoughts, comments, and pictures herein are our own.
A little while back I wrote a review of Terraforming Mars, the blockbuster hit from FryxGames. After playing, and loving TM I immediately began to wonder what other games the Fryxelius brothers had created. I am so glad that I did because I stumbled upon, what has now become, one of my favorite deck builders of all time, After the Virus.
After the Virus is, as I mentioned, a deck builder for 1-3 players, that plays anywhere from 15 minutes to just about an hour. In the relatively small box there are three identical decks of cards, four character boards, red, white, and green tokens, a rule booklet, and a campaign book. Yep, there is a campaign built into this little game. That alone hooked me, and it hasn’t really let go since. So let me share a bit about the game, and see if it doesn’t hook you too…
The dreaded virus has hit, and as fortune has foretold, the zombie apocalypse is here. The entire world has been affected, well almost the entire world, somehow, you and your group of rag tag friends have somehow managed to survive. The fate of the world now rests in your hands! I know, I know, there is nothing too griping about the premise. Zombie apocalypse is a pretty consist theme in games right now, but I promise, there are some big things that will keep you playing, just be patient. Ahem….. So where was I? Oh yes… After the Virus contains 15 missions that will lead you through the entire story. No spoilers here, so I won’t say too much more about that, but each mission has different set up and goals, helping the game to remain fresh, new, and challenging.
Once the mission is selected (or not, you don’t have to use them) players will be guided through the specific set up. Each player receives their own personal deck, containing 40 identical cards. From this deck they will pull their starting card based on the character they chose. Some of these cards are the same no matter who you picked, like Safe Houses, Run cards, and yep, even this zombies. You knew they had to show up sooner or later, didn’t you? Well, right off the bat some are shuffled into your starting hand, this number varies, dependent on player count. Each character also starts with one, predetermined, card in play.
Once your starting hand has been removed from the deck, the rest of the cards are shuffled and form the “area deck”, more on this later. Zombie cards that were not added to your hand are placed in a “zombie pile” in numerical order. Oh, did I forget to mention these zombies are not alone? Zombie cards range from one to four zombies, with each zombie needed to be dealt with individually. The “zombie pile” will be placed directly below the “area deck”. Below that will be your “draw deck”, the starting cards you built earlier, to the right of this will be the character card. Set up is complete, quick, easy, and now we’re ready to play!
Like any deck builder play begins with a draw phase. Players will draw 5 cards from the “draw deck” into their hands. Any zombie cards drawn this way will be set to the right of the “zombie pile”, this area is known as the “attacking zombies” (aptly named, no?) they are now facing you, and must be dealt with. If there are less than 5 cards in the draw deck you will need to reshuffle, duh, right? Well, not so much. You see, in this game, every time you reshuffle you add more zombies to your draw deck. Gulp!
Next up is the action phase, where you can play an event card, immediately taking the effect and discarding it. You can play a non-event card from your hand, placing it sideways in your play area. It cannot be used until it is prepped. You can scout, discarding one card from your hand in order to flip the top card of the “area deck”, placing it to the right of that deck in what’s known as the “scouted area”. You may retrieve a card from the “scouted area”, placing it sideways in your play area, until it is prepared, discarding the number of cards shown in hand icon as payment. I know, I’ve talked about preparing cards, and guess what? You can do that too, just discard cards from your hand equal to the number of cards below the yellow arrow. Turn the card right side up to show that it is prepared. You may decide to use a prepared card, following the effects listed on it. Lastly, you may attack zombies. It had to happen, they weren’t going to stand there looking at you forever. It’s time to engage! Unfortunately, if you do not have something to attack them, they’re gonna attack you, causing a wound. You may choose where to take the wound, the leg, which prevents you from playing the “Run!” card, the arm, this means you are only allowed 1 prepared item in your play area, as opposed to the normal two. The last wound is the brain, and I really mean this is the last wound, a wound here means game over, can’t live without your grey matter, so protect it! There are cards that allow healing, use them wisely. Game play continues until your objective is met.
Let’s talk about components. The little I have been able to find about this game seems to fixate on the same thing, so let’s talk about the elephant in the room, the art work. Is this the best, falling over, art work that I have ever seen? No. Is it the worst either? No. The art work was done by one of the Fryxelius brother, and I love that they kept it in the family. To me, it is reminiscent of an older game, perhaps from my parent’s time, when games were not so flashy and glossy, and that’s okay. Now that we got that out of the way let’s talk about the other stuff. The cards are nice quality, and have really stood up the the hundreds of reshuffles. The poison, wound, and wave markers are simple wooden disks, again nothing flashy, but they do their job, and that makes me happy. In a surprising twist the player boards are actual boards, nice and thick, and containing a brief bio of the character on the back. Very cool. I was really happy with the components, not a single complaint here.
How does it solo? Perfectly. As a matter of fact this seems like a solo game with multiplayer added on. In a multiplayer game everyone is pretty much doing their own thing, with the ability to help out a friend, if they want to, when they want to. Otherwise everyone is pretty much playing solo, together. So, for me, this is a perfect solo game, and I have mainly played it this way. I admit, I have only played this once multiplayer, and it was much more fun, for me, solo. Although, FryxGames recently posted a new character and a new competitive mode on their website that I am eager to try out! The simplicity of the set up, the small footprint, and the campaign mode has made After the Virus my go-to deck builder recently.
I am not sure why this game has not gotten more love, it has definitely flown under the radar of a lot of people. I really hope that more people take a moment to look at it, After the Virus is a great game. Overall game play is quick, and very satisfying. Don’t get me wrong, this is a very challenging game, I lose a lot more than I win. The difficulty only serves to make those precious wins that much more of an achievement. The rule book does include ways to adjust the difficulty of the game in either direction, so if the difficulty scares you, don’t let it. The zombies should scare you, not the difficulty. Seriously. The zombies. If this sounds like something that you’d enjoy pop over to Lion Rampant Imports for a copy, and make sure to tell a friend about how awesome it (and my blog) is.