A F.A.B Return
I’m a child of the 80’s, and personally I don’t find that there’s much going for the decade. The music was generally awful (I’m looking at you Culture Club), the style was questionable at best, and apart from a select few truly outstanding movies there wasn’t much to watch either.
Enter Gerry Anderson into my childhood.
I know the original Thunderbirds aired and finished in the 60’s (which was definitely a decade which had waaaay more going for it) but it was re-run as much as they could possibly get away with. That’s where I first fell in love with Thunderbirds. Sat down watching it with my Dad before Top Of The Pops of an evening is a really fond memory for me. So, when I saw that Modiphius Games was running a Kickstarter to make a co-operative board game based on it I got really excited. Then I found out it was designed by the Legendary Matt Leacock and I got less excited. I love Pandemic as it was the game which got me into gaming but I also have a very bad win record with it (check out my top 10 gateway games article for more info) and that put me off a bit. However, I recently decided to give it a go and here’s what I found:
Thunderbird 3 is… wonky?
I collected my copy of Thunderbirds from the UK Games Expo so didn’t really have any time over that weekend to check it out. I finally managed to crack it open on Tuesday night after a small period of recovery. I was greeted with a sheet of punchboard tokens and a decent sized board which was well printed and pretty sturdy. Then I got to the miniatures. Straight out of the bag with childish glee was Thunderbird 2 and Thunderbird 4 as I instantly worked out that they would fit together. OK, I may have squealed with glee, but it was just a tiny bit. Then disappointment started to set in. I got Thunderbird 5 out and it looked alright, but just alright. I think it really could have done with a stand as it just sits on the board like a limp noodle, or that guy at the party that no-one wants to talk to, and almost makes the place look untidy.
Then, woe of woes I found Thunderbird 3. I can’t really say exactly what it reminded me of as I like to keep my reviews family friendly, but it was cast off to one side and just a little bent. OK, I could fix it (and likely will) but could it not have been cast straight? Lady Penelope’s car looked pretty true to the show, but no Parker; not that it matters but it was for completion more than anything else. Also, the cast for The Hood looks great (I never realised how much The Hood looks like Richard O’Brien) but the casting of the base left a bubble in it, so it doesn’t sit down properly and acts a lot like a pogo ball.
Last thing that I noticed and that I have to tip my hat to Modiphius for, is all of the pegs which fit into the Thunderbird vehicles and tiny little busts of the characters they belong to, and given the scale, they look great. But sadly this reverie was busted when I realised that the casting means that not all pegs fit in all holes without some good old fashioned forcing it in. Darn it! Stop toying with my emotions like this! *sob*
All good in The Hood
As is the way with a lot of co-operative games, there is one way to win and several ways to lose. Well, a few ways anyway. The Hood triumphs over the Tracy Family if he either makes it far enough along the Hood track that he gets to one of his schemes and you have not already defeated it, or if he makes it all the way to the end of the Hood track then it’s also curtains. Lastly you also lose if you have more disasters on the bottom of the board than you can handle (or hide in the hold of Thunderbird 2… shhh don’t tell anyone) and they reach the end of their track.
You win the game by thwarting all 3 of The Hood’s nefarious schemes which are laid out across the top of the board during setup (for more information on setup and gameplay, check out the rules). You get to see the first one at the beginning of the game but need to uncover the other 2 during the game, and need to meet the conditions on the card to win.
First of all, I can see that Thunderbirds has been a labour of love for somebody. There has been so much effort put into making the game as true to the original series as humanly possible and it shines through when you’re playing, and seems a fitting homage for the show’s 50th anniversary. You don’t need to be a Thunderbirds aficionado to notice it either. Since this is a Matt Leacock game the odds are generally stacked against you actually winning the game but I don’t mind that so much since it seems a lot less punishing than Pandemic and is really good fun to play. It’s certainly a game which is going to see a lot of table time for us.
We have now had a few plays and we’re looking at a pretty good win ratio having lost once and won twice. The first time we played we lost by having too many disasters that we couldn’t keep control of but I’m chalking that up to inexperience and also luck of the draw; we just didn’t have what we needed for each disaster which came out and tried to be in too many places at once. I have a feeling that playing on this difficulty would probably become stale after too long, but there are several levels of difficulty and a certain amount of randomness which makes the replayability quite good. Add to this that there are 3 expansions planned and it could see table time for quite a long time before boredom sets in.
The player count caused a discussion in my house though. We played with 2 players and honestly, I think this will work out the best player count since more people will need to move more pieces around and make life difficult for the other players. The proof will be in the pudding though as our next game will be with 4 players (wish me luck). All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Thunderbirds despite the issue I have with the miniatures. I am glad that I took the risk on it and I will do my best to fix the mini’s so that they don’t upset my delicate sensibilities. If you like co-op games or Thunderbirds then for me this is a no-brainer. The recommended age is for 10+ and I’m inclined to agree as gamers smaller than this probably won’t understand the tactical value of what everyone’s trying to do.
If you think Thunderbirds could be for you then make sure you pick a copy up from your friendly local game shop:
For more information on the game, then check out both Modiphius Entertainment and the BGG listing:
Lastly, for more information about the (very talented) designer and if you want to send him hate mail after losing several games:
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I am just a regular guy that fell into board gaming. That's why I am no longer allowed in my local Toys R Us. I'm a huge fan of deckbuilding games and games with unusual themes or mechanics. OK, maybe I'm not that regular after all.