There are few things I love more than slasher movies—they’re horror stripped down to it’s barest, dumbest essentials, and it’s wonderful in all of it’s confused, faux-morality tale wackiness.
I also love board gaming, and in the past fifteen years tabletop gaming has exploded as hobby. In fact, the most interesting work in horror today is coming from game designers. If you want atmosphere, great art, and fun, horror games is the place right now. If you’ve never played any recent board games, I can’t recommend it enough. The thing that makes it great is that you and your friends come together and create your own mythology.
So thank the horror gods for Ameritrash Games, two of my biggest loves have mated and produced a psychotic offspring, Camp Grizzly. A ’70s and ’80s slasher movie in a box.
While there’s a lot of horror board games out there, they automatically have huge hurdle to overcome. How do you make pieces of cardboard scary? Until now, there’s only two games I’ve played that effectively blended fun and scary. There’s the Lovecraftian monstrosity Arkham Horror and the PTSD-inducing post-apocalyptic zombie game Dead of Winter. Now Camp Grizzly is the third one.
You play as a camp councilor in 1979, when Otis, a psycho with “an unhealthy bear fetish,” begins killing his way through the camp. The councilors must gather objective items, like keys, gas, car batteries, hand cranks, and reach one of 8 finales to escape the camp with their lives and what’s left of their sanity.
When I say that this is a slasher movie in a box, I mean exactly that. The game beings with Otis weak and the councilors zooming from one edge of the board to the other, but as the body count climbs, Otis gets stronger and stronger while the councilors get weaker.
The game perfectly captures all the slasher movie tropes—from the killer jumping out of no where, to the character archetypes, everything. The mechanics brilliantly weave in a concrete beginning, middle, and end worthy of a classic slasher film, but leave enough to chance and strategy that the player can still create their own story with their choices.
And the cards are half the fun. Each one either alludes to, or directly references slasher tropes so perfectly I’ve laughed through each game while screaming in frustration when Otis killed someone for foolin’ around (the humor is pitch black and pitch perfect campy). Yes, you can make out with another councilor and get killed for it. It’s amazing.
The rules are the simplest I’ve seen for pretty much any board game. It takes all of five minutes to learn and set up, and about an hour to play. I’ve played five games and Camp Grizzly is quickly becoming one of my all time favorite games.
Ameritrash Games is currently finishing the delivery of the base game to their Kickstarter backers, and if you’d like to order a copy you can contact them there, on Facebook, or wait for them to update their site (which I hear will happen soon).
If you love horror, or slasher films, or gaming, or want to get into board gaming, there’s no better place to start than Camp Grizzly. I laughed, I cried, it was better than Stage Fright.