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Subject: Opening the Box Review – Zulus on the Ramparts! rss

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Ray
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Opening the Box Review – Zulus on the Ramparts! (2nd Edition)



What I have here in my hands is a second edition of Zulus on the Ramparts! by Victory Point Games. The game is a wonderful gift from a friend, and it is still in its cellophane wrapping, but I’m going to remove the cellophane now.

Now that the cellophane wrapping is removed, I’m ready to start my opening of the box review.

My review will be a bit different in that I am only going to focus on my first impression upon opening the box for the first time. After all, first impressions can often influence what one might think of a game. I cannot make any “game” review because 1) I just got the game, and 2) game reviews are tricky. Why? Well, simply because gamers are different. What someone might think is the best game in the world, another gamer might think its the worst, or vice versa. It is for this reason I tend to shy away recommending games to others unless I know that other person well and I have a very good idea as to what games they may or may not like.

The Box:
Yes, I’m starting with the box. Why not start with the box. It is the first thing we see, and at times, it is the box that attracts us to the game in the first place. The cover picture on the box is simple, and at a quick glance you get the impression that it might be some type of Zulu War game. The graphics and layout on the sides of the box (top, bottom, and sides) are theme related and clear, which makes it easy to figure out. The back of the box is well illustrated and includes images of the game itself as well as other information including number of players (one player), time required to play, contents, and of course, what the game is all about. Here you quickly learn it is a “Rorke’s Drift” game. Overall, the game box has a good look and design about it. More importantly, the construction of box is good, though the side hinged box with its sleeve reminded me of my old IT days – very similar to a lot of computer component boxes.

The Cards:
The first thing I pulled out was the deck of game cards. The cards look good and have some nice graphics on them. While quickly thumbing through them, I see that they have lots of info and nice graphics. However, the graphic for the Martini Henry rifle is completely wrong. The cards show a long lever late model Mark IV, but the rifle should have been a Mark I or II. Anything else just looks out of place. But how many gamers will actually know the difference? But let us not get sidetracked. Getting back to the cards, I noticed they lack a good coating and wouldn’t last long if used a lot. Like the cards in the Duel in the Dark game, and those do wear out if you are not careful. Not all cards can be like the cards that you get with a game like Tide of Iron - which are high-quality cards by the way, and FFG deserves more credit for that. Or even a good set of Bicycle brand playing cards, but for a solitaire game these cards will do just fine. However, I would recommend using card sleeves to protect them. Otherwise your cards will not stay pristine for very long. Lucky for me I have card sleeves that are a perfect fit for the Zulu on the Ramparts! cards, but they are custom sleeves made in bulk by a fellow gamer, and I have only seen these here in Thailand. Not sure what other gamers can use, but I did just tried some of these “standard” card sleeves I have which should be available to most, and they work pretty well. Oh, and the cards are 2.5” by 3.5”.

The Rule Book:
I only have good things to say about this. The rule book is printed with nice graphics that clearly illustrate the game (which always helps), and the layout seems simple to follow. They even use colors to guide the reader. Overall, the rule book looks nice and gives a good first impression.

Dice:
The game comes with four medium-sized dice. They are red in color and of fairly good quality. I actually prefer larger dice myself, but these dice are okay for this game. At least they are not the smaller dice you get with other games, and bigger dice might cause the packaging team a bit of a problem. The choice of color (red) is good, but black dice with white dots would have worked too. If they really wanted to go all out, they could have had special dice made. Say black dice with white dots, but the “six” would be a Zulu Shield, or maybe red dice with white dots, but the “six” being a British pith helmet.

Bags:
The game comes with two zip-lock bags. These must be for your counters and other things, which I have not got to yet.

Counters:
Wow, my first impression was “Wow”. These counters are nothing like the counters of yesteryear and the old Avalon Hill, VG, and Yaquinto game days. Don’t get me wrong, those older Avalon Hill, VG, and Yaquinto games are still some of the best games a gamer can get, just that printing technology has come a long way since then, and these Zulus on the Ramparts! counters are an excellent example in how far this technology has come. The counters themselves are just fantastic. I’m not sure, but I think they are laser cut on MDF board or something? No, that can’t be right, but it looks like it is. Let me check the rule book and see if it says anything. Please hold [music playing in background]… yes, “82 laser-cut game pieces”. Wow, very nice counters with easy to follow graphics. To be honest, this is the first time I have seen laser-cut counters before, and I’m just amazed. I almost want to frame these counters, but if I do that, then I can’t play the game. Obviously I like the counters, and even more appealing is that it looks like they got the proper colors (and pattern type) for the shields of the Zulu regiments. Yes, in real life there would be slight variations (especially the iButho), but it looks like they got it right.

Game Board:
Not one, but two game boards! Yes, I said two game boards. I’m not sure if it is a mistake or not, but I got two game boards with my game. The rule book says “1 11”x17” map of Rorke’s Drift”, but there is two in the box. One of the game boards is a one-piece card style game board. The second is this amazing laser-cut, five-piece, puzzle-fit game board. Both have the same graphics, and I’m not sure which one I like better, but just glad I have both. The laser-cut one is a nice touch for the laser-cut counters. I will most likely use both with much joy. Anyway, what a surprise that was. First impressions of this game are just getting higher and higher.

Napkin:
Yes, a napkin! You get a white napkin that has the Victory Point Games logo on it and says “Wipes-A-Lot”. It also says “to remove any residual soot from your counters.” But my counters are very clean, but I guess they thought of everything just in case there was something. They even give you a napkin to clean it up. I also see it says “Not an article of clothing” and “Not a flotation device”. I think they have a sense of humor, but you be surprised what manufactures have to print on items for legal reasons.

Pillow Pak:
I also got two pillow pax with my game. No, these are not for the tired Zulus and British soldiers to use during breaks in the game, but to control the humidity inside the game box itself. A very smart idea if you ask me! I’m always hearing and reading stories of people getting games and complaining that the game has mold and/or smells bad. I guess they wanted to control this in their games. Once again the first impressions of this game are just about the highest I have had yet.

Box Inserts:
Not really box inserts, but ads. One is a colorful ad for the all new digital format apps. Personally, I would prefer playing this game with the actual game, but there might be others out there that might enjoy this. You also get a piece of paper that says “Beyond the Game Table” and it’s a thank you card as well as some information and resources for the gamer.

Conclusion:
Is the game worth getting? Quality wise yes, very much so! But for the game itself, well, that depends on you. If you are a Zulu War buff, chances are you already have this game, but like I had mentioned above, I refrain from making any “game” review or recommendations simply because gamers are different. What I can tell you is that I am very impressed with this little game. So much so, I don’t think I can wait to play this game. This game has given me an excellent first impression.

I hope you enjoyed my simple "Open Box" review.
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Joseph Betz
United States
Hamburg
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Yes just got this myself last month after having the first edition. The chunky counters are awesome. Also yes if you get the boxed version of this game you will get the jigsaw puzzle map and the paper map. If you get the bagged edition you only get the paper map. Yes it is nice they include both.
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Mayor Jim
United States
Fort Wright
Kentucky
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Great review, great quick game, great components. I've got all 3 versions including the app...which isn't that great
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Brad Heath
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I have the 1st edition of this. Great game and I'll get the 2nd edition someday. Enjoy!
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