Published on February 17th, 2016 | by Nicole Jekich0
Using Teamwork to Defeat VENOM
A Great Cooperative Deck-Building Game on Kickstarter
If you used to spend Saturday Mornings glued to the television watching spunky teams defeat the bad guys, VENOM Assault will give you a big slice of nostalgia for your favorite 80’s action cartoons. VENOM Assault is a cooperative deck building game where players work together to complete their assigned mission as the UN’s toughest task force. Visit the various VENOM strongholds across the globe, take out their leaders, mooks and artillery and complete the objective before VENOM completes their evil plot. Make sure you’re buckled up–VENOM Assault is a wild and fun ride!
Select Your Mission
To start VENOM Assault you first need to pick a mission. Each mission has a unique victory condition, setup and event tracker triggers. Each game will feel vastly different as players will can change up their strategies when tackling the different types of missions. Even for veteran gamers or those looking for a challenge, VENOM Assault brings more challenging difficult options included with their 11 mission choices from finding the four power cubes to capturing VENOM leaders. Each mission also comes with a detailed and dramatic briefing, just like a summary of your favorite G.I. Joe episode. As you’ll see in the pictures and examples in the article, SpyGlass Games has gone through great lengths to preserve and represent the 80’s action theme in this game.
Recruit the Perfect Team
After choosing a mission, players set up the game accordingly. VENOM Assault has a detailed setup for the board, starting decks, and all the other decks of cards on the board and it is well explained in their rules. Just like the start of most deckbuilder games, each player starts with a starting deck of weaker cards namely the commandos and recruits. These are your basic “currency” and players will have to “buy” to new special forces to add to your task force, aka deck. Throughout the game players can add better soldiers and add nice shiny vehicles to their deck too. These forces will be used in subsequent rounds in combat against a VENOM leader and his or her supporters. Claim victory in combat against a VENOM leader and you are one step closer to achieving victory!
Assemble Freedom Squadron!
VENOM Assault caught my attention immediately for its cohesive presentation of its 80’s action cartoon theme. Every detail just further reinforces the setting and narrative: all the character code names are short, punchy and feature great references. My favorite hero character so far is Selkie, a covert ops diving unit in the game, whose name references a Scottish/Irish mythological sea creature. The villains on the other hand, are named for poisonous creatures or other appropriately nasty things like Wasps, Vipress, Komodo, etc.
Every nook and cranny of this game is filled with theme and an action-packed narrative. The strongholds where you will be fighting VENOM leaders and their squads are all over Earth, shown on a tactical grid and represented with a gorgeous illustration. I enjoy all the different places you will travel to like the underwater base, arctic stronghold and even a base inside a volcano. What these different locations provide is different weather zones (like Air, Snow, Water) that players (and the villains) case use to their tactical advantage. For example some vehicles and soldiers work best when in water…hint hint.
The deckbuilding part is pretty straight forward and most people, even new gamers can dive into that strategy easily. What I was wondering most before I sat down to play VENOM Assault is how the combat would feel. Games I’ve played previously like A Touch of Evil can feel really stifling in combat when an active player and a substitute player acting as the villain each roll off against each other. In VENOM Assault, their combat is smooth and villains don’t roll dice.
When initiating combat, players will be fighting one target; but that leader can add other forces to their side, just like the hero adds soldiers to bolster their health and defense. The VENOM Leader health determines the number of successful hits you need to take out the leader and the VENOM Leader defense track shows the number.
There is not complex hit point tracking–players either defeat that leader on their turn or they try again next time. VENOM Assault got rid of a lot of combat fussiness and stuck to something simple and still very satisfying. Players obviously still rely on luck when throwing the dice but I always feel more in control when I have the ability to alter the success threshold like in VENOM Assault.
The only thing I found that I would strongly change in game would be the placement of the event advancement cards in the event deck. In our first game, these cards were randomly scattered through the deck, but luckily we didn’t reach on until halfway through the game. We got lucky; but I’ve been there in games where people have had “unlucky” draws and next thing you you know, the enemy is that much closer to achieving their diabolical goal. I would like to see the event advancement cards evenly distributed so that players can always have a set number of turns to try to win the game.
I had such a great time playing VENOM Assault and it is definitely one of my favorites so far this year. Bringing deckbuilding together with cooperative, tactical gameplay in an 80’s action-packed setting has never looked so good. VENOM Assault has a lot of variety and gives players a lot of replayability and unique strategy every time. It is great for those that enjoy light to medium tactical card game challenges and if you’re a game group that is looking for a new co-op experience, you should definitely check out VENOM Assault. Please consider supporting and sharing this game with your friends. Also check out its Kickstarter campaign to see more, newly released art for VENOM Assault.