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LumberJerks Kickstarter Preview


Quick Look: LumberJerks


Designer: Dave Collinson, Alexander Delfino, Austin Mace
Artist: Dave Collinson
Publisher: Howling Hog Games
Year Published: 2019
No. of Players: 2-5
Ages: 8+
Playing Time: 15-30 mins

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

WARNING: This is a preview of LumberJerks. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change.



Review:

tl;dr: Roll the die, cut down your tree while others try to slow you down--think Arbor Day Munchkin-Lite.

Getting to the Game: Each player gets 7 tree cards, which they line up vertically in front of them. Then shuffle the deck and deal every player two cards. The player wearing the most plaid goes first. Give them the die. 

The object of LumberJerks is laughably simple. Roll a three or higher 7 times. That's it. Manage to do that first, and you win. The trick is doing it with everyone else trying to mess with you. And mess with you they will--in the form of wildlife, unexplained regrowth, and generally just being a jerk. But hey, you don't play a game called LumberJerks to make friends, do you?

Playing the Game: The comparison to Munchkin is perhaps slightly unfair--to both franchises. LumberJerks plays much faster than a slog through that other game, and the themes are totally different. Instead of beating up on baddies in a dungeon, here you're beating up on tall, tall trees. You're also, contrary to what every actual lumberjack will tell you is the best way to cut down a tree, working from the bottom up. Each turn has two phases--the chopping phase and the lumberjerk phase. During the chopping phase, you'll roll one die (a surprisingly nicely made marbled d6) in the attempt to roll a 3 or higher. Succeed, and you flip the lowest un-flipped tree card to it's "chopped" side. If you roll a 6, and it's a "CRITICAL CHOP," (caps theirs) and you get to flip two cards. Then phase two begins, and you'll draw cards from the deck into your hand until you have three, and play one for its effect.

Lumberjerk cards mostly hurt your fellow jerks--you can either cause their tree to re-grow, undoing the chopping they've done, or you can add wildlife to their area, reducing any future die rolls until the annoying deer, squirrel, bird, or whatever vamooses.

There are Chop Again cards, which just allow you to do the chopping phase again--yes, even if you were successful the first time. These are plentiful in the deck, and serve to shorten an already-short game. The idea with LumberJerks isn't exactly to be in it for any length of time, which is nice, because the game plays itself out quickly. 

Finally, the last card type are the Jerk cards, and these are play-anytime, one-shot effects that cause something to happen immediately. There are only nine of these in the deck (10, if you're playing with the questionable "hippy" ruleset, more on that in a second), so they can be pretty powerful. These do things like grow back huge portions of opponent's trees, add a massive +3 to your die roll, completely invalidate another player's die roll, things like that. When you're about to win, and someone plays one of these on you, it feels real bad. When you're close to winning, and someone else is about to win, you'll want to make sure you've got one handy. Playing a Jerk card doesn't prevent you from playing a card during your LumberJerk phase, so feel free to go nuts with these.



I mentioned the "hippy" ruleset above. One of the optional ways to play is to shuffle in the game's two hippy cards--these act like static grow cards, causing an additional card to be flipped whenever a grow effect is played on you. This can devastate your logging efforts pretty fast, so you'll want to get rid of them right away. There are only two ways to rid yourself of them, though--either by rolling a natural 6 during your chop phase, or by using the game's only "hippy repellent" card. The art is vibrant and fun, like the rest of the game, but a little problematic. Depicting "hippies" as smelly and annoying is a trope that's pretty well played out, especially when it's arguable that you're the real villain here, mindlessly chopping away at trees while the animals and nature fight you back.



So, how does it play? It's fun for exactly as long as it needs to be. As alluded to earlier, this game hinges on a single mechanic, so if that wears out its welcome, so will the game. The fact that there are only 7 tree cards to flip feels just about perfect, given the amount of growing and stalling that your fellow axers will be tossing around. There can definitely be a feeling of frustration as you play because there's only one thing to do and that one thing keeps getting set back, but once you lean into that as being a part of the game, your sessions will be far more entertaining.

Artwork and Components:
As I mentioned before, I love the artwork in this game. Designer-and-artist Dave Collinson has done a great job here, pulling a fun and cartoony vibe throughout the game's cards. The wildlife cards are especially well done, bringing a strong Looney Tunes feel to the table.

  

There aren't many components to speak of here. The box is decently thick, the cards of average stock--the die is the best component in the kit, though--the marbled green suits the theme perfectly. As always, components could change as the game makes its way through fulfillment.

The Good: Quick, to-the-point gameplay. Plenty of opportunities to mess around.

The Bad: Theme is iffy, and there's not much depth.

ScoreLumberJerks feels like an exercise in how much you like your friends. The game is one giant take-that mechanic, so if that's not your style, there are plenty of other trees in the forest. If you love a quick bout of knock-your-friends-around, you'll feel as at home as Thoreau here. The compellingly short playtime, excellent artwork, and dead-simple mechanics should have you recycling this game back to your shelf at least a few times. I'm giving LumberJerks a score of You're a LumberJerk, and That's OK.



Check out LumberJerks on

        

On KICKSTARTER now! Ends October 2, 2019.



Nicholas Leeman - Reviewer

Nicholas has been a board game evangelist for over 10 years now, converting friends and family alike to the hobby. He's also a trained actor and works summers as one of the PA announcers for the St. Paul Saints. He lives in Minneapolis, MN with his board gaming wife and son.

See Nicholas's reviews HERE.
LumberJerks Kickstarter Preview LumberJerks Kickstarter Preview Reviewed by The Madjai on September 10, 2019 Rating: 5

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