The fine chaps at Warm Acre games back in the summer kindly gave me copies of their games No Go Zone and Hour of Glory and thanks to a quite bonkers amount of work both on and off The Shell Case they got pushed down the review list. But today No Go Zone, a game or street violence, gets roughed up and shaken down for its beer money.
As I mentioned No Go Zone is a game about street violence. Law and order against the boozed up rabble of Chaos. Now when I first came across this game I thought it was a near future dystopian street punch up affair so I was slightly surprised to find that it was entirely more…normal. That’s not a complaint by any means but if you’re expecting something with bags of background and exciting factions it won’t be this game. But what you will find is something that’s utterly mental and can be played even when totally shit faced. And I would know…
No Go Zone revolves around the fairly simple, albeit abstract, concept of law and order. The board is a street (of which Warm Acre includes in the rule set) that is populated by law-abiding citizens and low-level scum looking to tag anything that is nailed down. The boys in blue are there to either put a stop to it or prevent the vandal from getting any kudos for their trouble. Which is ultimately the point of No Go Zone – respect. The respect the crims have on the street verses that of the Rozzers sent to bring the little pikeys to justice.
As shit gets real the crims or the Rozzers can escalate their presence and in so doing can bring increasing levels of pain upon their opponent. Chaos get to call upon hookers (yes hookers) to corrupt citizens, or thugs to kick said citizens shitless. Similarly, the police can call in more police, armed response or even an ambulance. All the card vehicle templates are included in the game so you don’t need to raid anyone’s Matchbox collection. Calling in an Ambulance loses the plod respect but patching up citizens wins it back.
If I’m honest, it feels like the escalation process is a little complicated and the odds are stacked against the forces of order just that little too high to the point that I concluded that I may as well escalate my Police presence reasonably quickly, take the hit to my respect rating but have the muscle to utterly twat the scum and villainy roaming the streets. Except you can’t. You’re not allowed to start caving in skulls until you’re on the brink of lawlessness. Although this is probably accurate it means the game has to get silly before you get to the best bit about wargaming which is bringing the hurt and curb stomping mofos.
Which brings me onto interactions. I’m reluctant to use the term combat as to start with all you can do is give the yobo that’s just tagged the local pub a telling off. There’s no stats, no dice, no nuttin’. Instead No Go Zone uses gestures. Yes gestures. When I told Lee of The Chaps about this he wasn’t at all convinced but as I explained the process he saw what I did which is the game suddenly stops just being about strategy but psychology. Trying to suss out your opponent and second guess their gesture and deliver the gesture that will counteract it. And when you think about it that’s pretty much how it is on the mean streets. A copper collars you being a naughty boy. There’s a stand-off. Both are trying to figure out what the other is going to do and then they act. If the situation was read correctly, the Police get their man and the vandal gets a caution and maybe a fine (yes UK laws and sentencing are utter bullshit). If not PC Tubby gets hoodwinked by an ASBO in a hoody and loses respect. As well as possibly his dinner.
It’s a genius idea that makes No Go Zone an incredibly fun game to play and I’d strongly argue the ‘beer and pretzel’ lable because it does require real thought and being able to read the person you’re playing against gives you a tremendous advantage. That said you can still play it hammered which because you don’t need the power of sight or co-ordination enough to roll a dice. Just the co-ordination to give your mate the finger. No really.
If I could change anything I’d simplify the respect/escalation system because I did find myself getting confused. I’d have also liked rules for rioters verses riot police. Basically a much bigger focus on curb stomping than curb crawling but it’s still a hugely enjoyable game. And big respect to Warm Acre for the vehicle model templates, they’re clearly quite bonkers.