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  • Writer's pictureboardgameoverlord

Anyone for a battle Royale? A Neon Review

Neon from Hobbyworld, feels antagonising close to what Fortnite probably would be like if someone tried to make a board game from it. And the theme feels somewhat borrowed from other space sports games, in the future, today's sport has become obsolete in favour of biotechnology and mechanical upgrades, the area was born.

Over the course of the game, you'll play as a fighter seeking to collect armour and weapons, whilst avoiding the submerging arena as fighters are forced ever closer together to the final fight. The game is played over a number of rounds, depending on the mode you pick either most victory points at the end or last fighter standing (or some slight variance on these e.g. team games).

The turn structure is pretty simple, choose and play games, which feels a bit like gloomhaven in that you'll overlay cards to show three actions. With the top number being the players initiative. The actions vary from moving, searching, takeover, attack, defence, gain energy.

Attacking is relatively simple, pick a target within weapon range, there's no line of sight rules, apply any attack performance effects, roll attack dice. The defender determines the number of dice they have to roll, with the potential to block hits, or fail and gain energy or just fail. For each hit, the defender loses the top most hit point marker.

But you'll need to also search for ammo, and as you discover ammo you'll place it under the relevant equipment. As most gears and some weapons require you to discard a matching ammo card. And each time you search, it gets progressively more expensive. Although a submerging area will remove one search token from the adjacent regions. There's a need to maximise searching and fast to ensure you're geared up for whatever your opponents may bring your way.

After each player has taken all their actions, there's an end of game check before another sector submerges. Which in point bases games is allocating points for bots you've eliminated, health points gained and points for having the first player token.

Each sector does have an ongoing effect which is applied to fighters in that sector. In addition to a bot, which you can attack to add to your trophy hall or later use for the corresponding ammo type.

With two players, your required to play with the automa who is just unfortunately terrible, after the last player the automa will move towards the player with the least health if they at 0-3 spaces away, and that player becomes the target of their attack. This meant early on we both found ourselves able to easily avoid the automa and then game the automa into ending its turn on the sector that was due to submerge, and as the aroma only has 5 health points. An attack from each of us and a submerging sector damage (or three) was enough to mean the automa rarely made it to the midgame. Meaning we were largely left to a game a gearing up, for a final encounter. I suspect a higher player count will play vastly different, but for the time investment of 60-120 minutes, I'd much rather play something else. But I loved, like please someone put it into another game the overlaying of cards to determine actions, it felt like it actually took the gloomhaven mechanism of a top and bottom action that you could pick on your turn and turned this into a you will lock three actions in by overlaying cards.

And, Neon's theme and stunning miniatures had me, hyped and excited. As someone who is only just starting out in Cyberpunk 2077, this feels timely and the artwork is top notch as are the miniatures. I felt drawn to this world and wanted to spend more time here. Although the components aren't without its draw backs, the drop ship is a great center piece but a bit like the everdell tree requires assembly every game and I suspect won't hold up to multiple plays. The cards and player boards also have a weird top layer that makes them really easy to scratch e.g. tokens leave scratch marks.

As you know, I rate games on a

- Buy or play

- Wait for sale or play if you like game XYZ

- Avoid

For me this isn't an avoid, unless you are exclusively playing at two players, then I wiuld strongly avoid. There are vastly better two player science fiction two player games e.g Dreadball, kill team. It's a solid wait for sale or if you enjoyed Adrenaline you may also enjoy Neon, if you've got a group of 4 that enjoyed Adrenaline, I suspect you'll enjoy this. I can't imagine how long the game would take with 6! As there aren't fewer rounds with less players, with two it was between 45-60 minutes, and I imagine 4 players unless you're playing battle royale will be 90-120 minutes.

Overall, Neon's them is ultimately immersive, engaging and one I'd love to spend more time in and there were a few gameplay elements, that I hope we'll see used elsewhere. However, as a two player experience Neon is not a game I could recommend.

Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of Neon for review, I was not paid for this review and all thoughts remain my own.

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