The Big Lockdown

2-4 players, Competitive, Take-That Hoarding Hijinks

Designer: David Cooper, Madeleine Frank

Artwork: Madeleine Frank

Publisher: Porthos Games

Release Year: 2020

Origin Story

This card game is an upcoming Kickstarter release! I will be going over how to play and my standard thoughts about all aspects of the game after that. The basic premise of the game hits very close to home for pretty much everyone in the world right now, the lockdown. Although the game does take some liberties into a post-apocalyptic world rather than how most people are living I would say. Read on to capture my thoughts!

Overview of Gameplay

In The Big Lockdown up to four players will be simply drawing and playing cards on their turns to try and collect as many supplies as they can before one of the three decks of cards is exhausted. Whoever has the most valuable collection of supplies when this happens is the winner! Ok let’s dig into the details!

Right at the beginning players will take a double-sided Indoors/Outdoors card and place it with the Indoors side face up. This card can be flipped at the end of each players turn to determine if they will be staying indoors OR if they will be venturing into the outside world. Now, depending on which choice they make drastically changes the outcome of how their next turn will unfold. Players will also take one card each of Toilet Paper, Food and Infection Prevention. And that’s it! Setup complete.

On a players turn you get three actions in any combination of playing cards or drawing cards. There are three decks of cards to draw from, an Indoors, Outdoors and Supplies deck. You will ONLY draw from the deck matching the face up side of your starting card and these cards will dictate if/when you can draw from the luscious Supply deck, which is the ultimate goal. There are a variety of cards when you draw from either deck but each deck is slightly different which is where the strategy comes in. If you stay indoors you are more likely to draw “Effect” cards that protect you from other players attacks, however there are also “Impact” cards that negatively impact you which usually results in you having to discard a particular supply card and if you can’t you have to immediately go outdoors. There is also a small touch of supply gaining cards and a couple of the dreaded “Infection” cards that are what players are trying to avoid. These nasty beasts, if drawn, will cause the player to discard their super valuable “Infection Prevention” card to avoid it. If the player doesn’t have an Infection Prevention card then they must draw the next card from the corresponding deck to “test” for infection. If a “-“ id drawn you tested Negative and are fine…for now. However, if a “+” is drawn you have tested positive for Infection and are out of the game!

On the flip side if you choose to go outdoors during your turn you will have much more success gathering supply cards BUT you have a higher chance for infection. Outdoors you will also find a plethora of Effect cards that “attack” other players for their supplies. But keep in my the outdoors is much riskier, ESPECIALLY if you don’t have a spare Infection Prevention card on hand. Speaking on that a bit that is actually another way you can win the game. If all the other players have been “knocked out” due to infection then the remaining surviving player wins!

Components/Game Board

This is a pure card game so there is no board to speak of but the setup is super easy. The card quality is good with the cards having a nice thickness to them and NO WARPING! This one is huge for me as I am always coming across card warp it seems. If there was one thing that I would request it would be some kind of marking on the front of the cards to show if they are Indoors, Outdoor, Supply cards. When playing I could constantly have to check the back of the card I was discarding to put them in the correct discard pile. You technically COULD just drop them all into one pile but that just increases cleanup/setup time later on.

Visual Appeal /Theme

Visually the artwork makes this game seem more like a lighthearted take on current events. HOWEVER, after playing it a few times I have been really getting a post-apocalyptic vibe from it. I mean there are NUMEROUS cards that basically harass your opponents by stealing their supplies, discarding their supplies, making them go indoors or outdoors. There are also cards that reflect attack cards back on the attacker, completely negate attack cards and protect against attack cards. Because of these cards alone I feel like this game would work amazingly as a post apocalypse re-theming.

Rulebook

The rulebook is very well done with picture examples and nice formatting. The pages are full of color with no wasted space and is easy to understand. They also have a dedicated website with an easy to follow explanation of everything in the game and how to play.

Player Interaction/Fun Factor

There is a TON of interaction as I kind of touched on above with the attacking/defending cards. That said, how much fun you will have is entirely dependent on what kind of player you are. I found this game to be VERY high on the luck factor and Take-That mechanics. Myself, I enjoy a bit of luck in games and going in I knew the game to be a shorter card game that could be won in 15 minutes or so. So, the idea of player elimination isn’t that big of deal here. This game is MEAN though. During one play I had played a card on a player that was outside that made them discard their ENTIRE stock of either toilet paper or food. When I played that card I even felt mean since it was MY choice of which they discarded and of course I’m going to pick the higher amount. That is HUGE. Now, of course after a few games players will come to understand the importance of collecting a few defensive cards JUST for those moments.

Optimal Player Count/Replayability

I think the game would excel at higher player counts primarily to more evenly distribute the attacks. When I played with 2 players it was just a back and forth attack fest of trying to steal supplies. And if you just stay indoors the entire time you won’t nearly collect enough supplies to win. This is a prime example of how you need to constantly weigh the importance of staying indoors or going outside. Replayability is so-so. There are only three different kinds of supplies you can collect BUT there are quite a few different kinds of “Effect” cards and the text on the cards is always entertaining to read. I would say that you would definitely want to play a few games to test out the different strategies of going outdoors or staying indoors.  

Positive Final Thoughts

It’s a quick to play card game that has a bit of intrigue on the choices you make. Do you risk going outdoors to gather more supplies or stay indoors where it’s safe and hope everyone else gets infected? Or, do you mix it up (which you will eventually have to). Card quality is excellent and it’s a very tongue in cheek theme.

Negative Final Thoughts

BUT I think the theme fits much better with a post-apocalyptic vibe. Personally speaking I think I would be drawn into this game MUCH more if the artwork reflected that. Granted there are already an abundance of post-apocalypse games out there, this would be a quick-to-play post apocalypse game. Also, if you don’t like luck or Take-That mechanics then you might want to pass on this one.

The Bottom Line

I think this is a fun, tongue in cheek card game that simulates some of the life hardships that some of us might be experiencing right now (minus the looting, hopefully). It’s not for everyone but plays fast enough that players can jump into a game quickly.

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