1-5 players, Competitive, Pick up and Deliver Worm Slayer
Designer: Mike Elliot
Artwork: Eric Hibbeler
Publisher: Renegade Game Studios
Overview of Gameplay
Terror Below tasks player with driving all over the game board collecting worm eggs, delivering them to different locations and possibly slaying some worms along the way. After getting the game setup with the first batch of rubble tokens and eggs players will select a starting zone for their individual vehicle minis and take turns playing a movement card. These movement cards will not only allow players to take a certain number of actions but also manipulate the underground worms that are sneaking about.
You see right from the onset there will always be three worm cards on the board corresponding to three numbered tokens. These will show the location of those worms so you can move them around the board depending on what movement card you play. Cards with more actions available will usually be louder and bigger vehicles which, of course, will attract the worms to your location. Whereas small action cards such as boots or a bicycle won’t as much, if at all. Many of these cards even have arrows on them so you can pick a worm to move around according to the arrows, like if you wanted to try to kill off an opponent.
Now the worms will only come out and play after a certain number of movement cards have been played on the board under their corresponding worm card. When this happens you follow the diagram on the worm card to setup a new egg and new rubble tokens. If any player is caught in any of the placement of rubble, then they have to fight! If said player can produce enough damage from cards (weapon or item) then they kill the worm and collect a reward (VP’s). If not then their leader card dies and they choose another leader card from their starting selection of three.
Other than manipulating and trying to avoid (or fight) the worms the main thing players will be focusing on is grabbing those different colored egg tokens. At the very top of the board there are four random laid out objective cards. You will want to try and find a particular colored egg that matches one of those and snatch it up and deliver it to a specific location on the board to gain the most victory points. The first player to 20 vp’s wins!
The components and the game board are all REALLY well done. There are five different wooden vehicles to choose from as player tokens. The plastic egg and rubble tokens look excellent as well. Heck even the cards have a very nice finish on them which keeps them from being slick and they don’t warp either which is just incredible. The game comes with a few cardboard worm standees as well with plastic bases but…….they don’t have any gameplay function at all. They are meant to just be placed around the outside of the board to give the game more ambiance. These bothered me probably more than they should have honestly. When I first pulled them out of the box I was excited, I mean they look really cool and are HUGE especially when compared to your vehicle minis. I was perusing through the setup trying to find exactly how they appeared. Perhaps during an attack? Nope, they never appear on the game board, they are just purely a sideshow ambient effect. Disappointing.
The board is equally as awesome, if not more so. It has a super unique shape of one of those worm eggs and is double-sided! One side has the standard grid map for play whereas the other side has a deep dark canyon emblazoned in the middle of the board, breaking up the grid a bit. This creates an interesting variant on the standard game play where you can “ramp” the canyon at the risk of possibly killing off one of your three leaders. The board also has that nice spot-uv varnish on it, making certain spots shine and look glossy when viewed at a certain angle. Overall I am super impressed with the quality of the components and game board although I WISH they could have incorporated the worm standees into the game.
The box is much smaller than I suspected, which is a nice change of pace as I had a super slim spot that it easily fits in on my shelf. However there is no insert so you will need to bag up all the components and cards. BUT there really aren’t that many components to deal with so even with stuff bagged up, setup is pretty quick, minus the initial seeding of the board with rubble and eggs. The box also has that nice spot-uv finish on the outside which looks really nice.
Visual Appeal /Theme
I mean the game looks great visually and the theme is what really graboid’d me. I remember those movies back when I was younger about those worms that are attracted to noise and would pop outta the ground to eat you. And of course this theme takes heavily from that. The artwork on the cards is pretty good and the worms look excellent. I love the little vehicle minis to mark your spot although playing the different kinds of movement cards like a semi-truck or bicycle doesn’t really make much sense if you are driving around a Humvee mini on the board. But whatever!
The rulebook is ok. It does a pretty good job of explaining the rules in an easy to read manner and there are some picture examples. But over-all there were still some rules omissions and not enough picture examples. I do like how it’s set up though to look like a top secret manual, adds to the ever-growing theme.
Player Interaction/Fun Factor
The player interaction is pretty good as you can actively mess with your opponents. Playing specific movement cards to specific worms on your turn can effectively thwart another player’s game, killing off their leader and forcing them to drop all their goods. Of course on their turn they can just place their vehicle mini back anywhere on the board again and rush over to collect their stuff. It does slow them down though and if a player loses all three of their leaders, they are out and players only get one more turn each effectively ending the game placing victory in the hands of whoever has the most vp at that point.
HOWEVER, surprisingly I just didn’t have much fun with this game. I went in thinking this was going to be a win for me. I love pick up and deliver style games, I love the theme and I LOVE Jeep Wranglers. (there is a tiny jeep wrangler mini in there, well it looks kinda like one anyway). Not only that but the components are all excellent, but the gameplay fell super flat for me. Players will typically blaze around the board snatching up all the eggs they can (which there are only four starting out) even if there isn’t an objective out for them. They grab them just to save for when an objective DOES come out. So the game state dries up pretty quickly until a worm attack and then the most disappointed part of the game is revealed……
No worm actually pops out of the ground for an epic showdown, making those standees that look so cool a complete waste. Since the worm card is tied to a specific numbered token all you do is resolve whatever egg and rubble placement is on the card, draw a new card and place the numbered token in that spot. Boringggggg. It would have probably raised the price a bit and obviously changed the game play a tad but it would have been SO much better if you could place a worm mini where it pops out AND the worm actually stays out so player can battle it. Not only would this make the game more thematic but would actually have the “Hunt” objective cards make sense. As it stands those “hunt” cards only work IF you get attacked. Which means you have to try and position yourself in such a way that you are in the zone of rubble when a particular worm comes out.
I can see a bit of strategy in the game when it comes to playing those movement cards, manipulating where the worms move and all that but unfortunately this game just isn’t a fun one. There isn’t enough variety in the movement cards and worms to really make them stand out so the actions end up falling flat as well. The only thing that really has some variety are the weapon and item cards.
Optimal Player Count/Replayability
There is a solo game held within that has a few scenarios you can play that basically boil down to beating a time limit or a high score. Not my fav kind of solo game but always welcome to have that option regardless. I would say that three player would be a nice player count here as it seems that the more players go in, the faster the board clears out and players are left just wandering about collecting rubble. I didn’t find downtime to be that big of an issue unless of course you are playing with the AP prone. The biggest decision (depending on how much thought you want to put into it) Is which movement card to play and on which worm.
Replayability is so-so. I mean there are quite a few different leaders to choose from that each have unique abilities which change the game up a tad. And the draws of objective and worms will alter the placements of the eggs and rubble and you can also change up the locations of the delivery buildings as well…..BUT none of this really helps the game. You are still plagued with the same old boring egg placement of a board that looks the same no matter where you place anything. The alternate side of the board with the chasm helps a bit. This adds a new interesting “jump” mechanic which has you rolling dice to see if you survive…but that’s a super risk, but yaknow, you gotta risk it for the biscuit.
Positive Final Thoughts
The components are excellent all around and the theme is on point. The game board is one of the most unique and exciting looking boards I have seen in years. Visually, this game hits ALL the right points.
Negative Final Thoughts
The game just isn’t fun, It’s super pretty to look at but that’s about it. They missed a HUGE opportunity with the worm attacks, deflating them into a simple numbered token when they even include standees! The actions are pretty boring, just collecting rubble and moving around. Even the main mechanic of the game, the pick-up and deliver, just fails to deliver. I just cannot imagine myself picking this one up from the shelf to play when I have other games with the same mechanic that are so much better. And sadly enough even the interesting theme and components are not enough to save it.