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After the pleasant surprise of Dungeon Raiders, Devir’s Warhammer 40K tie-in feels like a slap to the face. Back in the days when I could afford it, I had a Space Ork army. The ridiculously violent and ramshackle orks are great (especially when you want to kit-bash models together and be allowed to field them). So taking those speed and gun obsessed lunatics and making a game around them should be right up my street, right?
Well, no. Gretchinz is an example of the worst kind of board-game: the cash-in. A trend I’ve noticed a lot recently as the 40K license is fired off to every developer that comes knocking. Seemingly the more recognisable factions and units are kept behind greater license fees and so Devir went for the (assumedly) cheaper Gretchinz rather than stretch for the full package. And licensing seems to have been the lion’s share of the budget as the art, while adequate and detailed, is repetitive. Which we’ll talk about more in a second.
The goal in Gretchinz is to race your buggy across a desert wasteland, shooting your opponents, and making it to the end first. And the mechanics here are… meh. Each player gets 3 dice and a space in their tray for the dice to be placed in order. Players roll as much as they like, placing the faces that come up in their tray as they plot out their move. Once one player has all 3 of their dice in the tray, they yell “waaagh” or, more likely, “done”. Everyone else has to make do with whatever their dice are showing at that moment.
That bit’s alright.
The issue is that if you want to win, you may as well just try and get 3 swerves. Doesn’t matter which direction as the greatest threat the road throws at you is “discard X cards” which you only need for attacking. We played a dozen or so times, swerving to victory is always the winner.
When you want to attack, you need to get the attack dice in your tray, then choose 2 cards from your hand and place them face up. And that’s where the tricky part comes in. In Gretchinz, you never get to see your hand. At best, you can roll the Eye of Mork and have another player truthfully tell you how many firing cards you have. You need to place down 2 firing cards to successfully hit and players can get hit 3 times before having to discard their hand and miss a turn.
Oh, and if you draw a problem you take a fire token or draw an explosion and discard your hand. And if you’re really unlucky, both.
But the big issue that arises during gameplay is that it’s boring. The mechanics theoretically work but haven’t been finessed and playtested because Gretchinz is just a product. That’s made especially apparent by the 95 terrain cards being split up into 6 types – 4 of which have no variation, 2 of which have slight variation – all of which are on a boring desert background. Even the most interesting terrain type, the weird storm, does nothing more than let you take cards from other player’s hands (giving the benefit that you now know what they are).
About the only part of Gretchinz that was actually any fun was putting the little buggies together but you can get the same joy from a Kinder Egg for a fraction of the price.
In the end, Gretchinz is a fire and forget corporate tie-in that only seems of worth to the most diehard of Ork fans. If you’re looking for vehicular mayhem there are a hundred better games.
Oh, and it loses points for a bunch of typos and only referring to the player as “he” throughout the rules.