Prepare to embark on a journey where survival is necessary, but isn’t wholly the name of the game. You’ll have to balance coming out alive with completing your mission: Capturing as many specimens (Threats) as possible. Supplies are limited and you’re no superhero; you’re just a scientist. Do you have what it takes to survive Outpost Amazon?
Outpost Amazon’s Components
Outpost Amazon is a card game in which players will have to strategically manage Items in their Supply and health (HP) as the navigate the jungle on the way to rescue. But en route to salvation they’ll suffer trials, tribulations, and Threats – all of which threaten to kill the Characters and jeopardize the mission.
The game comes in a tin as opposed to a cardboard box, and inside you’ll find:
- 6 Character cards
- 18 Threat cards
- 15 Good Event cards
- 15 Bad Event cards
- 6 Cage cards
- and 6 small cardboard Life Tracker Tokens
Along with the rulebook, of course.
Everything is pretty and simple. IDW found a great balance with both, as Outpost Amazon isn’t a CCG (collectible card game), which would call for a higher quality in both departments. Its meant to be played and enjoyed apart from protective sleeves and PSA gradings.
Outpost Amazon’s Gameplay
The setup is super simple, and so too is the gameplay itself. On each of your turns, you’ll:
- Draw 3 cards from the Outpost Deck. You’ll keep one, discard another, and place the third into your Supply.
- Attack and/or Use Equipment. Cards from your hand can be used to deal damage to any Threats currently in play. Cards held in your Supply can be used to capture weakened Threats, place them in Cages (also in your Supply), or nullify Threat effects. There is no limit to the number of cards you can use to Attack or as Equipment on your turn! There is also no hand limit, but there is a limit to the number of cards you can have in your Supply (including Cages), and that number is 10. Each card outside of the Character and Cage Cards will serve a dual purpose during play, as all Threat and Event cards also have an Item attached to them. The Item is displayed upside down on those cards and can be placed into your Supply once drawn from the Outpost Deck to be used during this phase or burned when Events arise.
- Draw and Resolve a card from the Expedition Deck. If it is an Event card – Good or Bad – you have to pay a Water or Food from your Supply or, in the absence of either, dock a Character 1 HP. Once you’ve paid its price, you follow its instructions then discard it (adding it to your pool for the Outpost Deck). If it is a Threat, a character who hasn’t had a turn during the current round (or one of your choosing if you’ve gone last) gets docked HP equal to the Threat’s Combat Value. All Threats remain in play unless you use a Net from your Supply to place it in a Cage or kill it outright with cards from your hand.
- Exhaust your Character Card. This just indicates that you’ve gone already this round which becomes important when Threats are produced during the draw from the Expedition Deck.
Your goal is twofold:
1. Survive! This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Most of the Characters only have 4 HP (and a couple have less than that!) and you lose if even one party member goes down before the Expedition Deck is exhausted. With revealed Threats guaranteeing hits to HP and Good and Bad Events threatening the same if you’re found without Food or Water, you’ll find that a solid chunk of the game is spent with one or more of your Characters at near death. That adds a lot of great tension and difficulty to the game. There are 4 possible First Aid Kits in the deck which will bring one Character back to full health when played from the Supply, so manage them wisely! I say “possible” because the way the game is set up might reduce that number all the way to 0 if you’re super unlucky!
To top this off, Water and Food are in fairly short supply in your Outpost Deck when you begin the game. 7 of the 11 Water cards are attached to Threats and 9 of 13 Food cards are also attached to Threats. I mean, sure: You can kill those Threats which will move them into the Discard pile to later be shuffled into your Outpost Deck; enabling you to draw that precious Food and Water…but that will interfere with the second goal!
2. Gotta Catch ‘Em All. You score points in Outpost Amazon by tallying the total HP of the Threats you managed to Net and Cage during your expedition. To do so, you have to reduce the Threat to its Net Value (displayed on the card; usually half of its HP), discard a Net item card from your Supply, and squeeze that creature into a Cage (also in your Supply) that can hold it. Each Cage has a capacity of x HP, where x is some number between 10 and 21. So two 5s could fit into the 10, but you couldn’t then squeeze a 2 in that Cage. Its gotta go elsewhere.
A perfect game is a score of 90 (the total HP of all 18 Threat cards in the game), but to do that you’ve gotta do without their Water and Food! Plus, a few of them have some nasty effects while in play.
Oh, and you can’t have more than 5 Threats in play at the end of any Character’s turn or you’re overwhelmed and lose. So sometimes you’ve gotta straight up kill a beastie for fear of drawing Threat #5 on the next visit to the Expedition Deck.
Outpost Amazon Verdict
For a game of just north of 50 cards, Outpost Amazon delivers a surprising amount of challenge. It plays quickly, requires a pleasant but not overwhelming amount of strategizing, and has an adjustable and challenging difficulty level.
We dug the Caging element to the gameplay. You could murder all of the Threats and survive easily enough, but that doesn’t mean you win thanks to the scoring system. That’ll keep us circling back to it every now and again as a breather between longer, more involved games or as a quickie when all we’ve got is half an hour to burn before moving on to the next thing.
You can snag yourself a copy of Outpost Amazon from IDW Games here!
[Disclaimer: Nerds on Earth was provided a copy of Outpost Amazon by IDW Games for review purposes.]