I had the distinct pleasure to meet up with Tristan Hall and co-designer Mark Chaplin on day two at the Travelling Man in Manchester today (having exhibited at ..the day before) for a live demo of LIFEFORM. Not only did I manage to get in a full game, and one where no less than three survivors managed to leave the mining ship in the shuttle we were only to find that the cunning Mr Hall had stowed away disguised as a central bulkhead and pounced upon us all after the shuttle had launched, leaving no survivors to tell the tale…well, how would we know the details to such a tragic loss of crew if that really were the case? No sign of the sip’s cat in this particular game, I noticed…and not enough death, maimimg and mutilation for a player to embody the ship’s mainframe computer either…
It was an absolutely great opportunity get a game in with the designer and publisher of a game and even better to see them forget it was supposed to be a demo-game by getting into their ‘full game-on’ mode! It was fantastic to find out through firsthand game play what stumbling blocks were negotiated in the 5 year or so journey to the current readiness of the game…and great to see notes still being taken about small twaeks as players come across anomolies. Over all, though, a very polished game and in my play, we saw off the wretched thing numerous times with cunning use of flame throwers and the odd use of a mining laser …that just happened to be lying around. (although Judgement Dave did try to pull a fast one by not discarding after use)…and through subtle use od locked doors, we foiled the LIFEFORM enough to beat a hasty retreat to the safety of the shuttle with two minutes to spare…but how were we to know the bally thing had already hidden itself on board!?
There is a really interesting balance?…synergy?…perhaps symbiotic relationship is the chap I search in vain for. Yes we can force the alien back with flame throwers to clear a path to leg it down…but in doing so we seriously piss the alien off (in game terms it gains tokens it can plonk all over the shop to make life so much more tricky) This is not a Marine shoot-em up alien experience. This is a group (or just one person in solo mode) grabbing what they can and thinking about how they can get feom the canteen, having had a ‘last supper’ and making their cautios way to the shuttle. Force has its place but it also has its drawbacks. Ingenuity, cunning and serious use of door locks are in order!
I wasn’t able to get to the Saturday meet, missing out on meeting a number of regularsts to the Hall or Nothing campaigns (such as the great Mr Paul Animal Kellett) but I was still able to enjoy the Sunday frivolities…surprised to see just how much Ninjapup knows about the game too. There is a lot going on on the board, mainly due to its epic size, but tasks, strategy and overall gameplay are not hindered as a result. Turns are quick and there is plenty of scope for witty banter during play without losing focus of the teams goals. It is amazing just how many Carry-On style, ols school English innuendos can materialise from the use of the word vent in a sci-fi setting…and from four adults who should have grown up and risen above such petty humour by now!
LIFEFORM proved to me to be even more tense fun actually playing and significantly more engaging than the video runthroughs demonstrate. After my interview with Mark on he designing/thought process used to develop the solo variant for LIFEFORM (Homicidal Star-Beast) it was great to discuss in more detail solo modes with him in person. Although the solo mode for this project is an add-on in the current campaign, it has a lot of content and will be, in my view, well worth the small additional investment to bring that multi-player experience I had today to the soloist’s table…
Some of the solo AI cards (actions cards are colour linked to various zones and will, no doubt, make life more hair raising and trouser filling the closer the sole survivor gets to the shuttle craft.
…and in some respects it may prove to be a more tense experience as we, the solo survivor, will be the only survivor left trying to escape the clutches of the homicidal alien. No assistance, no sneaky twitching tells from a live LIFEFORM opponent…just a card driven monster hellbent on preventing us from collecting the vitally necessary items to enable our escape.
Link to the Kickstarter campaign: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tristanhall/lifeform-the-sci-fi-horror-board-game-for-1-4-play?ref=profile_backed
Link to Hall or Nothing Productions: https://hallornothingproductions.co.uk/
Live feed footage from the weekend: (link coming shortly)
LIFEFORM on BGG: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/155065/lifeform
Tristan on Twitter:
Mark of Twitter:
Interview with Mark about the solo variant of LIFEFORM: #9gkb…of The Homicidal Star-Beast Horror and The Ill-fated Shuttlecraft Romora (Mark Chaplin)