Calvin’s Commentaries: Green Skull

When you are part of a small gaming group, who still has access to a couple of game rooms filled with dozens of board games, rare is the new game that offers a lot that is fresh and new.

That is not to say every board game is a clone, but generally, they take mechanics and themes that have been used before and simply present them in a new way. For example, you can do different things with the deck building mechanic, but at its heart, it is still a deck builder.

Checkers, a very old abstract strategy game, is another of what might be termed a foundational mechanic, the idea of jumping pieces, which has been used in a rather diverse range of games through the decades, many which immediately remind of its linage to the origin game.

So when a new game arrives that connects to checkers in movement you don’t expect a lot startlingly new, but instead, just hope it’s a good use of an old idea.

Such was the case when Green Skull, a recent creation by Danny Goodisman arrived.

However, Green Skull proved far more than a checker variant. Truth be told, as they say, it ‘feels’ more like a blend with Chinese Checkers to start.

Players start with their pieces clustered in two of the points on the triangular board.

The goal is to get your pieces across the field, without them being captured, so they are left touching the far edge.

That would be a bit too easy, except for the rather delightful addition of a third force, zombies, that start on the third point area and are controlled by both players, depending on certain criteria, (who holds the Green Skull), throughout the game.

The game starts by choosing which player will play the purple Goblins and initially take the Green Skull.

The other is the white Orcs and plays first.

Play is rather straight forward but also rather intriguing because of those pesky zombies.

On your turn, one of your pieces does one of the following:

*Move to any adjacent empty space.

*Make any series of straight jumps over individual pieces, each to an empty space, removing the jumped piece from the board, no matter whose it is. Keep the captured pieces in a joint pool. If you have the Green Skull, immediately hand it to your opponent.

If you (still) have the Green Skull, now choose whether to have a Zombie do one of the above (including handing over the Green Skull if the Zombie jumps).

Control of the Green Skull provides a powerful option but is also fleeting as its use means handing that power to your opponent.

The game ends when all the remaining pieces of any one colour (even Zombies) are touching the edge of that colour, or all pieces of one colour are gone, the game ends immediately. You each get two points for each of your pieces touching the edge of your colour, and one point for each piece captured (by anybody) that is not yours. The Zombies score the same way.

The scoring here is really refreshing. You have opportunities to do things based on the math of the game to facilitate a winning move.

Whichever species has the most points wins, even if it’s the Zombies.

This is really a key to loving this game, having the potential for a zombie victory. It is quite feasible to see yourself in a no-win situation so you switch attention to ensure a zombie win just to prevent your opponent from bragging on a victory.

The game is printed by Nestorgames, coming in a nice, small, canvas package that is ideal for transport anywhere. The board is a mousepad design, always a plus, but the pieces are small, so don’t drop off the table they could be hard to find in a coffee shop.

Overall, a rather intriguing little gem to explore.

About Author