Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Sunday 6 January 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Vengeance

Game: Vengeance

Publisher: Mighty Boards

Designer: Gordon Calleja

Year: 2018

Vengeance funded on Kickstarter back in 2016. It was a first Kickstarter project for Mighty Boards who have since had success with Petrichor, Nights of Fire and Posthuman saga, and was definitely a festival of unlocked miniatures. Our copy arrived from another reviewer having experienced 'significant movement in transit' and I can attest to the shear amount of content in the box.

Vengeance is a competitive dice rolling game for 1-4 players that attempts to portray the essence of pulp revenge movies like Kill Bill, Old Boy and Django Unchained. Throughout the game you are forever being wronged by the characters in the game, having detrimental effects on you both mental and physically, and it's up to you to be the person who most successfully delivers revenge.


Vengeance takes place over 3 rounds, each of which split into 2 distinct phases (though the later rounds have the fight phase twice). In the first phase you will gear up your character by drafting dice. First, 3 cards will be played assigning certain tasks to their character, such as healing damage, getting new equipment and scouting for their chosen targets. Then each player will roll, and then draft from a pool of dice, gaining a number of dice related to their current health stats. Once the dice are drafted each player gets an opportunity to spend the dice to boost their actions and prepare for the fight phase.

During the fight phase players will first scout a room for each token they spend, privately looking at the boss card therein. After this each player gets an opportunity to play some boss cards to be 'wronged', causing damage to their character but upping the point bounty for killing the specified boss. Finally each player will take it in turns to invade a room, representing a gang's hideout, to wipe them out and get the titular Vengeance!

Combat is simple, first you decide if you want to advance further into the lair, then you roll a number of dice (typically 4 red dice, though this can go down as you suffer wounds) and perform the actions on the dice. Actions are either move, melee attack, double melee attack (deals 2 damage), ranged attack (hits adjacent spaces only) and the criminal mask, which allows the gangs to hit you back. On top of this you have the skills you bought which often allow you to convert one die type to another or otherwise rearrange your roll. After 3 rolls you evaluate if you have cleared the hideout and killed a boss you were after, doing so rewards you with points, with more points awarded for bosses who have wronged you more. At the end of 3 rounds the player with the most points wins.

Amy’s Final Thoughts

Vengeance does a great job of bringing an action film to life, you really get to feel like the guy running into a room full of mobsters and wiping the floor with the lot of them. This is all done with the plethora of easy-to-kill miniatures that you will use during the game. While the combat is visceral and fun there is a lot of admin to get to it. The balance in the game feels off, with a lot of build up to what is ultimately 3 rolls then you're done. The build up itself feels like admin, and that's really where the game falls apart for me.

There are plenty of great ideas, your characters becoming weaker as they get damaged presents you with the choice of playing a wronging card and being weaker in order to score those extra points, how far are you willing to push your luck. Meanwhile the skills present you with plenty of opportunities to bolster your performance in combat and reduce the effect of bad luck on your combat rolls. It all works on paper. Well actually it doesn't work that well on paper because the rules seemed to fail to have the answer to any of those awkward questions that come up during play, our first game involved constant flipping through the manual, often with no clear answer in sight.

The art and the theme of the game are both well integrated into the game and the special powers for each gang are simple, but important enough to make each one distinct. The miniatures themselves are of reasonably high quality, though there are a lot of the same sculpts to be found. Overall Vengeance is a good game that fails in the minutia The combat is entertaining and great, the character progression versus wounds balances nicely. But there are simply too many fiddly bits, such as swapping over boards and repopulating them with miniatures. The end result is that it's just average, an OK way to spend an evening, but nothing special, unless you are really into the theme then I'd give it a miss.

Fi’s Final Thoughts

Vengeance has a bunch of elements I really enjoy. I really like the planing phase where I get to decide how much of each of the three 'resources' I want each turn. Balancing healing, recon and upgrades is a fun puzzle each turn and the right balance is different depending on your last round and your future plans. Picking your upgrades is also really important and the right combination of upgrades can be the antidote to almost any bad rolling in the combat phase. Unfortunately Amy seems a lot better at the upgrade aspect and I found it a lot harder to identify good combos, but an vouch for the fact they exist, in the way that she completely handed my ass to me in every game!

I love how thematic it feels as you search the hideouts, looking for the boss who wronged you. It makes a lot of sense that you need to find them. It makes a bit less sense that you can deliberately go looking for more trouble and cause more characters to wrong you, so that you can seek more vengeance and get more points if you kill the boss.

In spite of its positive attributes, playing Vengeance was ultimately tiresome. In some turns I was tempted not to kill the boss because I didn't want the hassle of finding a new tile with all its minis and tokens! Even with 6 tiles and boss cards on the board, I sometimes found that I couldn't even identify a boss on the board who had wronged me, so I just had less points available to me than my opponent(s), no matter how well I was rolling or using abilities. Unfortunately I can't recommend Vengeance and it's not a game I really want to play again.

You Might Like...
  • It's fun to build up your character with upgrades and become better at combat throughout the game.
  • The theme really comes through with the desire to seek revenge against characters who wrong you.
  • If you enjoy programming then the planning stage of every round can be quite puzzly and fun.
You Might Not Like...
  • Way too much setup, even in between rounds.
  • Bad dice luck in combat is always a possibility and with so few scoring opportunities in the game, this can be a big factor.
The Verdict
5/10 Vengeance is a great, thematic board game concept, spoiled by significant setup time and too few scoring opportunities. It just doesn't deliver enough game for the time and energy investment.

Vengeance was a review copy kindly provided to the Board Game Exposure Reviewer Collective.

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