Viral Review - Infectious Fun
- Game Type – Area Control
- Number of Players – 2 - 5
- Mechanics – Area Control, Variable Player Powers, Simultaneous Action Selection
- Difficulty to learn – Medium
- Release – 2017
- MSRP - $49.99
- Publisher – Arcane Wonders
- Recommended for fans of –Small World, Blood Rage, Risk
I don’t know about you, but I’m absolutely sick of mediocre games. I’ve had a real fever lately to put my sweaty paws on a good solid area control game that doesn’t take so long I’d drop over dead before it’s finished. If just reading this intro is giving you chills and cold sweats you may want to see a doctor, but if you’re willing to tough it out I may have the cure for what ails you.
In Viral, each player is a different virus vying for domination of a hapless human. The game is played over 6 rounds in which events will happen that effect the game, players will play cards to add/interact with viruses on the board, players score, and the human’s immune system might fight back. At the end of six rounds the player with the most viral points wins.
All players start with two sets of cards, a set of zone cards that correspond to each of the 6 zones on the board, and a set of mutations cards that allow players to place their virus on the board and/or interact with other viruses. Each turn players choose a zone card and mutation card, then in turn order they reveal and play their cards. After all player complete this, they do it a second time, with the played cards being placed above their player board to signify that they need to wait a turn before they can play them again.
When played, the mutation cards have a variety of effects. Some cards just put more viruses on the board, some move viruses, some attack other viruses, and so on. Most cards have an ability more useful than the others that is shaded in blue. These abilities can only be used in the zone shown on the zone card that the player chose to play with that mutation.
After all cards have been played, the player with the most viruses in each zone scores points based on the zone and increases their progress on a research track that will remove all their pieces from the board when maxed out. When scoring is finished organs with too many viruses will eject them off the board and players will score points if ejected this way. All this continues over 6 rounds and player with the most viral points at the end wins.
The rules here are laid out in a very easy to understand way with plenty of pictures and examples. There is a detailed breakdown of all the event cards in the back too, which is always a plus. My only gripe is that there isn’t an index, but honestly the game is simple enough it’s not really that necessary.
Fantastic! Everything about this game oozes with theme! The art is goopy and evocative. It really brings you into the game and makes you feel like a virus. The gameplay and theme mesh well together too, with the mechanics perfectly representing a virus taking over a human body.
This game is very quick here. There isn’t much more to do then hand out some cards and tokens and put some tiles on the board. If you bag each players pieces separately, you could be playing in literally a minute or two.
All the card stock used for both the cards and tokens are very nice quality. The print job is excellent with all the colors looking distinct and vibrant. It’s also a nice touch that each players pieces are a different shape, so everyone can tell them apart easily. Earlier I mentioned I liked the art and I want to stress that again. It has got a real Ren & Stimpy feel to it, looking just gross enough to evoke the theme without being disgusting.
Viral is sold under the line of a “Dice Tower Essential”, which means it’s a game that Tom Vassal, reviewer for monolithic website The Dice Tower, thinks everyone should have this in their collection. This is a pretty big claim, but does it hold up? Well, yes and no.
I really liked Viral. It’s got smooth mechanics, great art, and well-made components. It’s fun, easy to teach, and quick to play. If you’re just starting your collection or you don’t have many other area control style games, this is an insta buy.
However, Viral doesn’t really reinvent the wheel. Everything it does, it does well, but it’s not doing anything ground breaking. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a solid game, but if you have a few other similar titles in your collection it may end up not getting played very often.
With all that said, I’m still giving Viral a rating of “Buy This Game”. I had a lot of fun playing it, and even though there’s nothing insanely innovative here, it’s still a solid design with great art. This game is worth having, just don’t feel like you have to rush out to buy it today.