Camp Grizzly (2013) Review
We are in 1979. As every year, the Grizzly Camp opens its doors. You do not know the famous Grizzly holiday camp? It’s picturesque wooden cabins, lake, fun activities, Jody and his guitar, the serial killer, ... wait what? But that's not on the brochure? Ah yes anyway, I will have to look out for that next time I want to send my children on vacation ... Good ... Good luck children. Dad believe in you!
Camp Grizzly immerses you right in the heart of the most famous Slasher and the ubiquitous references of Friday the 13th. The game was financed by Kickstarter in 2013. It was created by Jason Topolski and published by Ameritrash Games. Because of the theme and the general atmosphere of the game, this is not a title directed towards the youngest ones.
Camp Grizzly allows you to embody monitors of the famous colony. While everything seems to be going well, a mysterious teddy bear killer (yes, you read that right) is here. Nobody seems to be able to compete with him and no one is safe. He kills his victims indiscriminately, whether they are monitors, visitors or charming children. Fortunately, you will be able to try to fight against him thanks to ingenious plans, straight out of your imagination (horror films you know, no?). During the game, you will have to make some choices to try to survive as much as possible. In the face of a relentless killer the best survival is often to think of your own survival. But will you sacrifice the others for this?
This is a cooperative game. You win together or you lose together. You will have to act in harmony to succeed, at best, in repelling the incessant attacks. If unfortunately some of you disappear (it's sad ... but you must see the bright side of things), it will open up more spaces and with luck, Otis (the name of the killer) will be slowed down.
The installation of the game is done fairly quickly. Each player chooses a monitor. Each monitor has the same number of health points but different abilities. Camp Grizzly is proud of its instructors. Let me introduce you to our team: the beautiful Jody and his guitar, C.J. our local sports champion, the beautiful Tracy who is ... Tracy, Kevin the lifeguard, the nature specialist Sherry and the talented Karen. With them, your children will have a summer they will not forget. Here, there are no figurines. The characters are represented by standees. Each player also starts with Survival cards.
The principle of the game is simple. Four ideas are available to you. To survive, one must succeed in bringing one of these to fruition. Final cards represent the plans of the ideas.You can choose to escape to a Van, take the boat, call for help at the Ranger Tower or hide in the barn. Each plan consists in first finding specific objects that are scattered throughout the camp. Of course, you do not know exactly where they are. You have only a vague idea but there is always the possibility that it is something else. It's up to you to find them.
Once you have found the three required tiles, you start the second phase of the game: the final step. Just like in a movie of the genre, you thought you won but the evil is everywhere. Once the objectives are in hand, you then return the chosen card. The finale gives new activities to complete in order to really survive this night. It is only at the end of these new goals that you will know whether you have won or not. Not so easy to escape the horror.
The game starts with the monitor. Starting with the first player, each instructor performs their turn normally before moving on to the next. The first thing you can do is move yourself. The number of possible spaces is indicated on your profile. You can of course move where you want if you can. For example, you can only go to a locked bungalow if you have the key. Or if you go through a box with Otis, he takes the opportunity to try to hit you. Not nice the ugly sir. But movement points are also used for actions. You can also, during your turn, pay a travel point to pick up objects, equip weapons, save campers (if it is possible), move you in the side roads (faster but it is at the risk of your losing).
Once your movement point / action quota has been spent, you will need to draw the first Cabin card. Sometimes it's good things like weapons, objective pieces or objects to better heal or defend yourself. Other times, these are not always favorable events. Otis can sometimes take the opportunity to break in and eat you (uh!) or attack you. Once the card is resolved, we move to the end of your turn. You may be able to equip items or weapons that are in your backpack, pick up things on your space, or trade with other monitors.
Then, once all the heroes have played, comes the turn of Otis. Otis is a good guy. Very resistant, very sporty, very muscular, very many things but he is clearly not nice. Nobody really knows who he is, but he is not there to butter the sandwiches. Otis has only one goal: to make a massacre and exterminate you. Of course, his primary target is the animators of the colony. But if by the way, some children slide on his blade, it will not disturb him too much. He's like that Otis. A good guy who does not speak much but who acts quickly and well. Otis moves the number indicated on his reference card. Sometimes he will be hidden in the woods and may come to a place where no one is waiting for him.
Otis still has some ethics. He primarily targets spaces with the fewest people. Then, in case of a tie, the space with the monitor who is most scared (which happens ... often). Still equal? He then heads for the most wounded. After that it's random. He does not waste time scratching his head. If by chance, he goes through another players space, he stops and tries an attack (sacrificing a child or a cameo to slow him down and all that ...). Once he has played, you'll start again a turn, if there are any players surviving. Otis does not worry about locked doors, he smashes everything if necessary.
I often told you that Otis was trying to make an attack. Indeed, it is not necessarily automatic. If the killer stops on a box of a cameo, well there no contest, he goes directly there. By cons, if a monitor is in the corner he can try to protect everyone in the household. A monitor has the choice to fight Otis or run away while panicked. If the facilitator has a weapon they can try to push Otis while fighting. For this he rolls a die, and another player rolls a die for the teddy bear killer. If the defender's number is higher, the attacker is pushed back. Otis disappears in the woods. If not, all the characters in that cabin take damage. If a monitor becomes panicked, not only do they take as much damage as Otis's strength, but they also have to run as many squares as their panic value. The teddy bear is invincible and immortal, you have no hope to kill him.
There is another thing to note about this surprise guest, Otis. The more people he kills, the more powerful he becomes. The sight of blood seems to have an invigorating effect on him. As the number of dead on the corpse trail increases, Otis will become powerful. He can increase his movement and his attacks with more and more effective dice (d4-d10). If the number of victims reaches thirteen, you have no hope. The game ends with a beautiful defeat.
The game components are not consistent. On the other hand, everything breathes the theme. Cards, ambient black humor, illustrations, texts, abilities. Camp Grizzly plunges us with pleasure directly into a Slasher style films. This is also one of the reasons why the game should not be put in all hands. Violence and sexual allusion may be present throughout the game.
Otis is relentless. You can not kill him, just run away. And again only if you can do that. Weapons are scarce and time is running out. This constant pressure is really well transcribed. At every moment the fear of failure invades us. The play area is ultimately quite small. Nobody is safe and there is no hiding place. Otis can also arise at any time. As a result, your decisions will have an impact on the future. And at the same time, this desperate atmosphere allows players to embark on heroic actions. Sacrifice for the common cause or play individually and increase the risk of dying faster. There too, you can make groups of one and separate yourself with each new death.
The ability to choose between the different plans is a good thing in terms of replayability. Even if in the first part of the game it comes down to not necessarily finding the identical objects, in the second part the final stage changes completely from one mission to another. And of course, you'll find all the "ingenious" plans that young victims try, as a last resort. A treat for those fans, with references and winks dissimilated everywhere in the game.
The game is very heavily based on its theme. You have an allergy to randomness? Flee right away. Dice, cards,tokens face down, luck is everywhere.
The game is however clearly enjoyable in its mechanics. Simple, there is no need to return to the rules, the explanation is done quickly like the immersion. The idea, for example of the choice between moving on longer safe roads or trying the adventurous shortcuts at the risk of getting lost is excellent and adds to the pleasure of the theme.
Even if Otis is not played by a player, his performance is really well done. Simple, not superfluous. But it allows to feel the tension related to the chance of his appearance or his destructive force. You can very well say that you have time to spare, letting him move slowly and kill some NPCs on the way, thinking that it gives
you time. However, remember that the more he kills, the more powerful he becomes. And the more powerful he becomes, the more he becomes unmanageable.
Of course, do not expect a game with a huge dose of strategy. We are clearly in the Ameritrash style of play. Replayability is quite important as the game is hard to win. By cons, for those who are less fan of the theme, a certain repetitiveness can be felt once the main missions tried. For fans, you will enjoy playing and replaying.
Camp Grizzly is above all a tribute to films of its genre. And with it, it's a success. Everything is there. Finally, one of the biggest faults is that it is very hard to find. I do not even speak of expansions. It's a shame because in the genre, it ranks among the best.
Technical Score 8/10
The material of the game is functionable but nothing extraordinary. The atmosphere is well transcribed and there is a lot of winks or references to the genre. Everything has clear iconographie, despite a rule a little vague at times.
My BGG Score 8.5 / 10
(Very good, enjoy play and would suggest it)
The theme is omnipresent. Otis puts pressure on players who are constantly trying to escape death. The game is simple to play, easy to explain. Replayability is important if you love the theme. The difficulty is present, which is even more pleasant for a cooperative.
Combined Score 8.25 / 10
Now it's your turn...