Saturday, June 25, 2016

Demonic hares, climbing chefs, oh my!

For my old gaming group, Devil Bunny Needs a Ham was the mascot for Cheapass Games. 

Yeah, that position is actually filled by the Doctor Lucky series with the Friedays Zombies in close competition. But, for us, nothing captured the minimalism and the absurdity of James Earnst's designs like Devil Bunny Needs a Ham.

The medically, the game is about doing teams of sous chefs who are trying to climb to the top of a sky scraper on the outside. You know, rather than take an elevator. Why? I guess regular parkour was too easy. However, Devil Bunny is trying to knock you off the sky scraper because he thinks that will get him a ham. Why? Because he's _INSANE_

Devil Bunny Needs a Ham goes a long way towards justifying the theory that Escape of Elba, a game by James Earnst about escaping from an insane asylum, is autobiographical.

In the original game, you got a paper envelope that had a two-piece board forming the skyscraper in the rules. In the printing play version that is available now, you get the exact same thing. You just need to provide some pawns, some dice and an extra special pawn to serve as Devil Bunny. 

At its heart, Devil Bunny Needs a Ham is really just a roll-and-move game (surprise!) It uses the standard methods of making roll-and-move interesting: each player gets multiple pawns to move and you get choices about what direction to move them. You see, the board is really a grid with some blocked off spaces. Pawns can move horizontally and diagonally but not vertically, you know, the way you really want to move. The number of pawns that you get, along with how many dice you to get roll, depends on the number of players.

Of course, the game wouldn't be complete without Devil Bunny. When a six is rolled, Devil Bunny hops on the highest pawn and knocks them down. If you are too high up, you don't get to survive the fall. Other pawns can catch you but, if they belong to another player, they have the option of letting you keep on falling.

The game ends when the roof of the skyscraper is filled up. Scoring is based on the order that the pawns arrive there. Whoever has the highest score wins and presumably actually gets to use the elevator to get back down.

By no means is Devil Bunny Needs a Ham a brilliant game. However, it's a game that is super easy to teach (seeing as how the core concepts are ones just about everyone is familiar with) At the same time, it offers some interesting choices as you jockey your climbers up the sky scraper, trying to block and make sure you can catch your highest climber if Devil Bunny comes out to play.

For years, I kept a copy of Devil Bunny Needs a Ham in my Dungeons and Dragons folder, because three pages took up new room and we could pull out and play if we needed a quick board game.

Devil Bunny Needs a Ham's biggest claim to fame is the absurd theme. It's not like there aren't other genuinely interesting roll-and-move games out there. Backgammon alone has fit that bill for centuries. However, it is super easy to get while still being a decent game. It will make folks laugh when you pull it out and I do like the wide open board, just waiting for players to turn it into a tight maze.

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