A Review of The Big Pig Game (A Cooperative Eating Board Game)


I feel like I had to add the qualifier “board” to the title when I describe this board game this because “The Big Pig: A Cooperative Eating Game” sounds like something very different! The Big Pig Game is a lightweight cooperative board game for 1-4 players, Ages 10+, taking 40-45 minutes. It’s all about eating food cooperatively (yes, I know, that’s a weird sentence).


The Big Pig Game was on Kickstarter back in April 2022 and promised deliver in January 2023. It’s mid March 2023 (I got mine about March 10th, 2023 in the mail). So, the Kickstarter is about 3 months late: that’s not so bad in the grand scheme of things.


This is a very cute game: I got it because it had the same vibe as the Kim Joy’s Magic Bakery game which did very well in my cooperative gaming circles (see our review here): Kim Joy’s Magic Bakery even made our Top 10 Cooperative Games of 2021!


Let’s take a look at The Big Pig Game and see what we think!



The Big Pig Game is slightly smaller than the standard Ticket To Ride box size: it’s about the same size as The Lord of the Rings Adventure Book Game from a couple of weeks ago.


You can probably guess that this game leans into the “cute” aspect pretty heavily. The characters are cute little animals eating food together: if you don’t like the cuteness, you might want to stop reading now. This game is jut a lightweight, cute game. It’s not deep. And it embraces cute. Caveat Emptor.

We liked the components quite a bit because of the cuteness (except for one major issue, see later below).




The rulebook is good enough.


The components are well-labelled on the first page.


And the “theme” is explained on the next page. It’s a silly theme about raiding the kitchen while the humans are gone: it’s very silly and cut! Like I said, this game embraces that cute factor.


The set-up follows and consumes the next two pages. It’s good set-up and description: note that it has a set-up section.

The game then explains the basic structure pretty well.


The rulebook does pretty well on The Chair Test: it stays open and is readable on the chair next to me.  The font is a little thin and small, but it’s still quite readable.  Probably a B or B+ on The Chair Test.


The back cover made me laugh: it’s a fake ad for chili!! I’ll forgive that they don’t use the back cover for something game related.

Overall, pretty good rulebook.

Components and Gameplay


Each players chooses one of the cute little animals to play: there are 10 in all. See above.


Each character has varying Hingers, Hand Sizes, Item Limits. Each player has 4 action spaces (the donut slots), but these actions do vary among the characters.


If you look closer, you can see what each action space does: again they vary by character.


To win the game, the players must eat all the food before the human family returns: the board above has a different track depending on the number of players. Basically, as soon as the humans reach the house, the cute animals get caught red-handed and lose!


To win, the cute animals must collectively eat ALL the food on the 4 boards before the humans gets home! Above, you can see the tiles on the four different foods. Every time the cute animals “eat”, they take some of the tiles, depending on their hunger. The cute animals can eat from any food they like, but they have have bonuses or penalties depending on many things.


One Bad Things card comes out at the start of every turn, causing bad things to happen.


If you are playing the more difficult game, you use Very Bad Things instead: see above.


Each player has a hand of cards (Actions) that do Good Things for you and the other players: this is a cooperative game!


There are also Items you can buy on your turn that generally give you some bonuses.


If you eat ALL of one food, you get a Bonus! See the sample Sweet, Savory, and Healthy Bonuses above.


There is a player aid to help you, but it is not great: it doesn’t really help with all the player actions.


The most important question in the game: How do you eat? Either one of your cards or one of your 4 actions allows you to MUNCH or RAVENOUS MUNCH.

When you MUNCH, you use you base Hunger (it’s 4 for Big Pig above), plus bonuses (Big Pig gets +1 for Sweet Foods, +1 for the action), plus any Penalties (usually from Bad Things, none here). So, a simple MUNCH of Sweets for Pig Big would give him a MUNCH of 4+1+1 = 6.


From one of the Sweet foods, Big Pig could take two 3s or one 6 to be efficient. Big Pig could still take a 4 or 5, but it would be wasteful and not use his full hunger.


When you MUNCH, you keep the piece and can use it to power the BOOST action on the bottom of the Action Cards (“Look What I found” above requires two BOOST pieces, “Hyper” requires three). RAVENOUS MUNCH usually is a bigger hunger, but you don’t keep the pieces for boosting: the immediately go to the side of the food.


Players win together when they have eaten all the food (see above for 4 empty plates) before the Humans get home!


Along the way, players can ENCOURAGE each other (notated with the little cheerleader tokens above) for an extra +4 or +6 hunger on the next MUNCH/RAVENOUS MUNCH. This is a cooperative game! Sometimes its better to help your friends eat!


So, this game is about cooperatively using your hunger to MUNCH and eat all the food!

Solo Play


The game supports Solo Play (thank you for following Saunders’ Law)!


The only real change to the rules is that game board uses a different track, depending on the number of players: the solo track is much longer since the the solo player only plays one character and will have many fewer actions.


See above with a set-up for a solo game.


The solo game works fine, but it has the Roll Player/Ares Expedition Crisis mode solo problem to a certain extent: with fewer players, fewer cards come out, fewer Items can be in play, and fewer opportunities for collaboration come out (See our discussion in Roll Player Adventures and Ares Expedition: Crisis mode). Don’t get me wrong, the solo mode works, it’s fun, but one solo character simply doesn’t have quite as many cards come out at the same time.


I liked my solo play okay: I was mostly grumpy with the components (see Issues discussion below), but I was able to get through the game and learn it so I could teach my friends.

Cooperative Play


This game shines in cooperative mode.


Players happily take some of the cute characters and inhabit them.


The cooperative game really felt cooperative! The little encouragement tokens, as silly as they are with little Cheerleaders, really encouraged that cooperative vibe!


And each player’s action were different enough! For this really light game, we found ourselves talking amongst ourselves: “I’ll eat sweet things if you let me have the sugar packets” and silly things like that. There were a surprising number of collaborative moments for such a simple and silly game.


The cooperative game was chill and relaxing. Cecil the duck stole everyone’s heart.



There is one major issue with the game: the tiles don’t really fit in the middle! This is the main gimmick of the game, and I found that I could either “force” all the tiles to fit, or have them hang off the side: neither solution was great. The “forced” tiles were very hard to get out of the board. The “relaxed” tiles looked messy and moved too easily.


You CAN get them to fit (see above), but it actually interfered with the playing of the game. I feel like just a slight tweak to the tiles or the board could have fixed this issue!! The tiles don’t need to be packed in there so tight!!! They should really be just a little looser.

I am grumpy about this because this is the main gimmick of the game: the food pieces/tiles fit into the dual-layered boards and it looks cool … but the tiles are too tight.



So, if you can get over that the tiles are too tight, this is a fun, relaxing, end-of-the night for multiple players. The solo game is okay (maybe a 6.5/10), but it does teach the game. The cooperative game is much better: it is just a great way to hang out with your friends and have a chill time! The Big Pig Game gets a 7.5/10 or maybe even an 8/10. When I want a relaxing game, this is a fun, light, and surprisingly interactive experience while still being an interesting game.

My friends like this better than Kim Joy’s Magic Bakery, and I think I agree. I had a such a chill time playing this. This would be great for families or a group wanting a light game.

I know lost the hard-core gamers a long time ago: I think they saw Big Pig and bailed. But you know what? They might actually appreciate the simplicity of this game.


I sent an encouragement token to my friends (via text) this morning. See below. I could see this becoming a thing with us: those cute little tokens really are a cheer-up.

Using Overlapping Turns To Mitigate Delay: A Discussion of Pipeline Parallelism in Cooperative Games


Last week, we reviewed Astro Knights: it’s a cooperative deck-builder (see our review here). The main hook of Astro Knights is that you don’t have to shuffle your cards when your deck runs out, you just flip the discard pile over! That’s great! No shuffling! One of the other hooks, related to this, is that you have some choice over the order the cards go into the discard pile at the end of your turn. It’s really cool that you have some agency over the order cards might go into your discard, but it’s actually fairy limited. When you buy a new card, it immediately goes to the discard. When weapon cards go off, they immediately go into the discard. The only choice you generally have is over some of your Power cards. In playing, that choice didn’t make “that much of a difference” because the only cards you could could re-order were very limited. We loved this idea of reordering, but it didn’t seem that efficacious in practice.

Potential House Rule for Astro Knights and Aeon’s End


We were going to propose a house rule for Astro Knights about the reordering last week, but it lead us down quite a twisted path: we need to discuss it before we formally propose it.

The proposed House Rule is called Full Reordering:

In Astro Knights or Aeon’s End, any card that would go into the discard pile this turn can be re-ordered in any way the players want at the end of their turn. Those re-ordered cards then go to the top of discard.

Thus, any card that was bought, played, or discarded (weapons in particular) on that turn can be re-ordered as desired into the top of the discard.  So, if you buy a card, it doesn’t immediately go into your discard: it only goes at the end of the turn after you have re-ordered all your cards for that turn!

For ease of maintenance, the player can keep a separate pool of cards discarded/played/bought for that turn (representing cards to be discarded that turn) and re-order them at the very end of their turn.  When they are done re-ordering all the pooled discards, the pooled discards will go into the main discard.

It seems like Full Reordering should have been the rule all along in both Astro Knights and Aeon’s End.  Why wasn’t it? Let’s look into this a little.

Analysis Paralysis 


The main reason the proposed House Rule of Full Reordering is problematic is probably time: if you give the players a chance to re-order 5, 6 ,7 or more cards, then amount of re-orders the user will consider grows quickly … by a factorial!  Thus, with 5 cards to re-order, there are 5! = 60 permutations, 6 cards has 6! = 360 permutations, 7 cards has 7! = 5040 permutations, and factorial grows very fast (approximately exponentially if you believe Stirling’s Approximation)!   And, unfortunately, many players will take all the time they can to find the optimal solution, this increasing the amount of time a player takes on their turn (slowing down the game substantially).

If you “just allow” re-ordering of just a few cards (as per the current ruleset), there are typically only 1 to 4 cards to re-order, which are much are much smaller numbers: 1! = 1, 2! = 2, 3! = 6, 4! = 24.  I suspect the real reason the re-order rule by default is so limited is to avoid analysis paralysis: there are simply too may permutations of the discards if the player is allowed to consider all possible permutations. 

Potential Savior


There is still a potential way that the proposed House Rule of Full Reordering could work: What if we allow the next player to start his turn while the previous player simultaneously re-orders their discards?  This would mean the “re-order discard” step and “start of next turn” would be happening simultaneously!  Simultaneous play is something we are seeing a lot of current modern games: Ares Expedition, Sidekick Saga, Seven Wonders, Race for the Galaxy are just a few modern games where the game has embraced simultaneous play to move play forward.  One of the reasons that Terraforming Mars has fallen off the radar in my group is that Ares Expedition does everything that Terraforming Mars does, but in one quarter the time!  Most of this time reduction is because players are playing/building simultaneously instead of waiting for full completion of the previous player turn.  See our reviews of Ares Expedition and Ares Expedition: Crisis for more discussion.

I would argue that many people already play Astro Knights simultaneously: 

Player 1: “Hey, you done yet re-ordering your cards?” 

Player 2: “Almost, why don’t you just start your turn?” 

As you become more and more familiar with a game, it becomes second nature to exploit the opportunities for simultaneous execution.  Take a look at our blog entry about Arkham Horror and concurrency in our post of Concurrency in Board Games. In Arkham Horror, we start taking advantage of the turn structure to introduce some simultaneous play (concurrency) to move the game along.

Pipeline Parallelism

Let’s take a brief detour into the world of computer architecture: we’ll see a useful metaphor which will inform our discussion of simultaneous play.


Probably the most used textbook in Computer Organization is Hennessy and Patterson’s Computer Organization and Design.  A major topic of this textbook is pipelining: this is a technique modern CPUs use to achieve major performance gains.

The idea of pipelining is simple: break up a task into multiple stages, and execute as many stages in parallel (simultaneously) as you can.  Another similar analogy to the pipeline is the assembly line.


Above is the simplified stage breakup of the MIPS 5-stage pipeline.  Let’s say it takes 5 cycles to execute a single CPU instruction: 1 cycle per stage.  Like the assembly line, there is one worker per stage doing just one job: the first worker can only do Instruction Fetch (IF), the second worker can only do Instruction Decode (ID) and so on.  To finish a task, all 5 stages must be completed in order.

By overlapping the execution of the stages, we can achieve some parallelism and speed up the execution.  See above as it takes 9 cycles to execute 5 tasks (instructions)!  Without the overlapping, it would take 5*5 = 25 cycles to execute the same 5 tasks!

To take that idea further: Without pipelining, 100 instructions would take 500 cycles to execute, as each instruction takes 5 cycles. With pipelining, 100 instructions take 104 cycles to execute, as we can execute the 5 pipeline stages simultaneously, overlapping some of the stages! That’s basically a 5x speedup!

In real life, there are issues as you can’t always necessarily overlap stages.  As long as the stages can be executed independently, (like finishing a turn and starting a next turn), this pipeline parallelism works great!

The problem are the hazards.



Without getting too much into complexities, hazards happen when things interfere with simultaneous execution.  The entire discussion of hazards can be quite deep (Read-After-Write Hazards, Write-After-Write Hazards, timing issues, etc).  For our purposes, the hazards just “get in the way” of simultaneous play.  You’ll notice in the branch chart above that pure overlapping is not happening due to hazards/issues!  That’s the real world!

If you are interested in the idea of simultaneous actions or pipeline parallelism, the ideas found in the Hennessy and Patterson book can be informative: What are the type of hazards that can prevent simultaneous actions?  What are some of the workarounds? The discussion is very technical and focused on modern CPUs, but the ideas it presents are very relevant in other forms of pipeline parallelism.

Back Of The Envelope Timings

In our case for Astro Knights: it takes too long to re-order a large number of cards!  Even if we overlap “the end of a turn” and “the start of a turn“, the player re-ordering may still be re-ordering even AFTER the next player has played!  At some point, the re-ordering will interfere (become a hazard) with a player’s turn! “Uh, I can’t start my turn until I finished re-ordering…”

Let’s say it takes 3 minutes to play a full turn in Astro Knights. And it takes 1 second to consider each permutation.  For 5 cards, that’s 5! = 120 permutations or 2 minutes: that’s not a problem! The re-ordering will finish before the next player’s turn finishes. What about 6 cards?  That’s 6! = 720 or 7 minutes!   What about 7 cards?  That 7! or 5040 seconds or 84 minutes or 1.4 hours!!! 

This overlapping turns mechanism can only work for us if we can somehow keep the re-ordering step short enough.

Opportunity Cost


But Rich“, I can hear you saying, “My friends and I don’t has that much Analysis Paralysis!  We could re-order our cards in under 3 minutes! No problem!”  

Even if that were true, there is another cost: interaction!  When re-ordering your cards, the player’s head is down, focused on the re-order task, which means they are NOT engaged with their fellow players!  In other words, all the cooperation we like in Aeon’s End and Astro Knights is thrown out the window because each player is spending too much time on re-ordering their cards.

There is an opportunity cost: we lose the the opportunity to cooperate and interact when re-ordering.



So, is our proposed House Rule (Full Reordering) even viable?  The number of permutations of cards to re-order is the first real big problem!  The overlapping turns can solve some of that problem, but even then, the simultaneous play is only a partial solution, as you lose some of the interaction/cooperation we like in Astro Knights and Aeon’s End.

Decide for yourself: if you think your group can overlap turns, quickly re-order their discards, and still interact effectively, then maybe Full Reordering is a viable House Rule.  I personally think Full Reordering is probably too fragile a house rule because the effects of any slight analysis paralysis will be devastating.

So maybe that’s why the re-ordering the discard in Astro Knights and Aeon’s End is so limited!


A Review of Astro Knights: A Cooperative Deckbuilder


Astro Knights is a cooperative deckbuilder for 1-4 Players, Ages 14+, at about 60 minutes. This was originally on Kickstarter back in February 2022, and it promised delivery in October 22, 2022. I got it mid Febraury, so it’s about 5 months late.


Somebody (Stronghold? The Fulfillment company?) chose to pack my Astro Knights Kickstarter with my Ares Expedition Kickstarter: so, I may have gotten Ares Expedition early (and we reviewed it last week here), but I think I got Astro Knights late!? It’s not THAT late, because I am seeing people on the Astro Knights Kickstarter saying they are just getting their copies.


Let’s take a look at this! Will it shift into our Top 10 Cooperative Deckbuilders?



I backed at the Kickstarter level that includes the supplement and the Game Mat.


The Game Mat is a little busy, but I found it very useful for helping set-up the game: everything is well-labelled! (Contrast this to the Game Mat for Deep Rock Galactic which added little value). You don’t need the Game Mat for Astro Knights, but it does help.


The game is a little smaller than most game boxes: see the Coke Can above and below for scale.


The rulebook come with the top of the box.


And below the rulebook are a bunch of “bad guy” boards.

The components are all nice.



The rulebook was great. It immediately tells you the object of the game, and then jumps into a nice annotated list of components (with an immediate discussion of what the components are and do).



It’s always an interesting discussion: do you discuss the “anatomy of a component” before or after set-up?  There are arguments both ways (“Why discuss something you haven’t touched yet” vs “Why set-up something you don’t know what is first?), but it seems to work for Astro Knights to do discussion before set-up.



So, it’s not until after 8 pages we get to set-up! See below!


Generally, I was very pleased with this rulebook. The sections were well-labelled/colored for distinction and there were enough pictures.

They even used the last page for something useful:


Oh yes, Astro Knights gets a A on The Chair Test: the rulebook sets open very well on the chair next to me, being easy to consult.



Astro Knights is a cooperative deckbuilder in the same family as Aeon’s End. We really like Aeon’s End: we’ve reviewed it here and here, and it also made the #1 spot on our Top 10 Cooperative Deckbuilding Games.


In Astro Knights, the players are galactic warriors working together to take out some big bad guys! See the 5 that come with the base game above (well, 4: Fission Parasite is an expansion but came with the Kickstarter version). To win the game, that big bad needs to be reduced to 0 hit points!


Each player takes the role of an Astro Knight. Each Astro Knight is slightly different, mostly in the main power on their board.


For example, Gavril (above) has his main (Blue) Power (if it has enough energy) to Deal 3 damage and some extra effects: each power is different per player.


The main tool of the Astro Knight is their deck of cards. There are three type of cards: Weapons (orange), Power (purple) and Tech (green). The Weapons must be equipped before they can be used, and then they go off next turn. The Power cards are used for currency to buy upgrades and new cards (this is the deck-building part). The Tech cards just give some cool abilities when you play.


What cards are available to buy? The supply has 6 different types of decks: Tech, cheap/expensive Power, cheap/medium, and expensive Weapons. You can only buy the card on the top of the deck.


The main hook of Astro Knights (and indeed, Aeon’s End) is that you DO NOT HAVE TO SHUFFLE YOUR DECK! You have some choice as you discard cards and can form (some) of the order as you put cards in the discard. When your deck runs out, you just flip the discard over! No shuffling! I freely admit that the shuffling of many deck-builders has turned me off a little—I always liked this innovation in the deck-building world.


Like many cooperative deck-builders, you are defending a home base! If the bad guy causes the home base to drop to 0 hit points, the good guys lose! (The base’s Hit Points are in the upper left corner). Each home base also has a special power that allows it to defend itself.

The game alternates between good guy and then bad guy playing: it’s self-balancing (for the most part) since the bad guy and the good guys always get the same number of turns.

Gameplay is very much like Aeon’s End.

Astro Knights vs Aeon’s End

Astro Knights is very derivative of Aeon’s End: if it were a different company making it, you might think it was copying! Essentially, Astro Knights is a simplification/streamlining of Aeon’s End.

What’s changed?


Prepping Spells vs Equipping Weapons: These are essentially the same ides: the spells/weapons are the “big guns” and interesting things you use to do damage the bad guy(s). The more expensive the spell/weapon, the more it does! And you still have to set it up so it goes off next turn. It’s the same idea, it’s just called something different. But…


Breaches: However, Aeon’s End had a notion of “opening your breaches”: you couldn’t cast spells out of some breaches until you had opened them completely. As a simplification, the idea of opening breaches is just gone from Astro Knights! Instead, you only need to spend 3 energy to increase your number of weapons slots (see Gavril above with 4 (yellow) weapons slots). The whole notion of breaches is gone, in favor of the simpler slots ideas.

The Supply: The Supply that you buy cards from has a very different nature. In Aeon’s End, you have 9 decks, each with the same cards per deck (above left)—when you buy, you choose one of these to buy from, and you you know exactly what you get. In Astro Knights, (above right) you only have 6 decks in the supply, and most of the cards in each deck are completely different. Each deck has a “theme”: cheap power, expensive power, cheap weapons, etc. But once you buy a card, you reveal something new from that deck which could be very different.


Cards and Startup Choices: When you set-up either Aeon’s End or Astro Knights, you get to choose which good guys and bad guys you use. But, in Astro Knights, when you just set-up the supply, there’s no choice. In Aeon’s End, you have to choose the start-up cards. This is a big deal! Astro Knights sets up so much quicker, but it has lesser variability. Aeon’s End takes longer to set-up, but it has much more choice/variability. What keeps Astro Knights fresh is that each deck has a variable cards.

Basically, in set-up and play, there have been some simplifications. For Astro Knights, the set-up is faster, the game is generally a little easier to play, and the games are a little bit shorter. The cost of these simplifications is some extra variability.

Art and Graphic Design


I adore the art in this game.  The art and color choices remind me of a comic book! All choices made in graphic design and art just embrace the comic book vibe wholeheartedly.  


I do agree that the Game Mat can appear busy, but when you are playing the game, that “busyness” (is that a word?) doesn’t get in the way too much. (It could be less busy: I do think the Aeon’s End Game Mat is better).


Of course, art is a very subjective thing: decide what’s best for you. I personally really like the look-and-feel of Astro Knights much more than Aeon’s End: I love the bright colors and comic book vibe here!

Solo Play: Single Knight


Solo Play is very well defined! Thank you for following Saunders’ Law and giving us multiple ways to this solo!


The simplest way to get into the game and learn it is to play it solo with one single Knight! See the solo game/single Knight set-up above. The rule changes for a single Astro Knight are very simple: you are your own ally, you don’t lose when exhausted, and you only use three player Turn Order cards in the deck. Other than that, you can jump right in!


I think I missed a few rules in my first play, but my second play, I think I had the game down. It was really easy to get a single Knight to the table and play.

Solo Play: Multiple Knights


From a perspective of fewest rule changes, the easiest way to play solo is to take the role of two Astro Knights and play as if a 2-Player game (alternating between them).


It’s when playing two-handed solo that the “no shuffling” mechanism really stands out a great thing!  My two-handed solo game could have easily bogged down if I had to shuffle, as  I became acutely aware how many times my discard deck became my main deck! I kept thinking every time I turned the discard over: “I am so glad I don’t have to reshuffle my deck!”


I had a nice time batting back and forth between the two knights as I played.  There wasn’t too much of a context switch cost, and the knights are generally simple enough: like I said earlier, the main distinguishing thing is that each Knight has a different power.  That’s both boon and bane: simpler characters means easy context switching, but less interesting characters.

In general, operating two Knights worked well. Some of the cards you play help your allies instead of you directly, so it sets-up some interesting combos helping out your allies.

I think I prefer the single Knight solo, but I miss the interesting combos/interplay between the characters when playing multiple Knights.

Cooperative Play


Cooperative play … didn’t go that well.  We had a perfectly fine time, but for some reason, my group just didn’t resonate with this game. Andrew felt he could never get a “groove” going like he could in other deck-building games: he tends to be a frequent culler of cards, and it was much harder to cull in Astro Knights.  Basically, you could only cull cards if you find the right Power on top when it’s your turn.  I think Andrew would have preferred more ways to cull cards.


The turns didn’t seem that cooperative either?  For some reason, our turns felt more solitary than other games, even with the abilities that help our allies.


Not sure what happened: everyone said they’d be willing to give it another try, but Astro Knights didn’t seem to go over as well as I had hoped.  The general consensus was that the simplified supply deck (with only 6 decks) was too random, so it was harder to strategize to get a good deck going (as you were at the mercy of what cards were on top when you bought).  

The final result was positive in the sense that everyone liked it decently, but only half of us liked the game: the other half thought it was just okay.

Issue with the Turn Order Deck


There are two main issues you should aware of with the Turn Order Deck!  First, make sure you sleeve all the cards in the Turn Order Deck!  Arguably, you should probably sleeve all cards in your deck-builder, but you should absolutely sleeve the Turn Order deck.  Why?  You touch these cards many more times than any other cards in the game!  Your Turn Order deck will start to get grody if you don’t (believe me, I know from one of my Aeon’s End games where I didn’t sleeve them).  Just some advice!


The second issue is more personal preference: I have a house rule that states “If the Bad Guy ever gets to act three times in a row, instead reshuffle the third time card and let the players go.”  I have seen far too many Aeon’s End games end in horror as the natural randomness of the Turn Order Deck gives the the Bag Guy 3 turns in a row!!! In late game, you can’t come back from that! You just watch in horror as the bad guy wins without you being able to do anything.

We discussed this house rule (which we call “Curb Excessive Randomness“) in greater detail in the Top 7 House Rules For Cooperative Games! It’s the #1 rule!  That’s how passionate we feel about this house rule! We also use this same house rule in Adventure Tactics (see review here).



Astro Knights is a streamlining of Aeon’s End that works really well (well for some of us). The set-up is quicker, the gameplay is simpler, and the game length is a shorter. Despite having fewer cards and simplified rules, Astro Knights really retains the feel of Aeon’s End while making a simpler game.


Unfortunately, although I liked Astro Knights (both solo and cooperatively), my game group did not like it as much. Here’s our scores:

  • Rich: 7/10 for both solo and cooperative
  • Teresa: 7/10 for cooperative
  • Sara: 5.5/10, but could be persuaded to try it again and give it another try
  • Andrew: 5 or 5.5/10, would try again, but couldn’t get a groove going.

My group did seem to like Aeon’s End better (as we’ve had some fantastic plays) than Astro Knights, but I personally appreciate both.  I feel like I could teach Astro Knights to newer players easier than Aeon’s End.  Astro Knights is also better when I just want a lighter cooperative game. 

Astro Knights is lighter than Aeon’s End in most senses.

A Review of Marvel Zombies: Heroes’ Resistance


Marvel Zombies was originally a cooperative game on a Kickstarter here in 2022: in that game, the players play as the zombies. That is NOT the game we are reviewing here.

I have to admit, I don’t like zombies. At all. So, I had no interest in playing as a zombie, even if it were a cooperative game.


Note that there was also a Marvel Zombies: X-Men Heroes’ Resistance game in that Kickstarter as well, where you play the last remaining heroes fighting the zombies! Now that sounds like fun for me!! That’s the game I wanted! Unfortunately, in order to get the Marvel Zombies: X-Men Heroes Resistance game, you had to plunk down $240 to get the Resistance pledge and get the core Marvel Zombies game (where you play as zombies) as well (see above). What?!?!?! That’s crazy! I can’t just get Heroes’ Resistance? Nope!! Don’t believe me? Take a look at the Kickstarter!! I just wanted the Heroes’ Resistance!


Fast-forward about 8 months, and I was able to find Marvel Zombies: Heroes Resistance in early December at Barnes and Noble for $34.99! This is the game I want: play as heroes fighting the zombies! Sure, there are some zombified heroes to fight along the way, but the core premise is that the players are playing Marvel Heroes (Hulk, Black Panther, Spiderman, Wasp, Winter Soldier, or Vision), saving bystanders, and taking out zombies! Now that sounds like fun to me! So, I picked it up!


It was a little hard to find this game! I had heard it existed outside of the Kickstarter, so I sought it out! Strangely, when I was looking, the only place I could find it was locally at my Barnes and Noble! I could not find it online! Now, of course, as a I write this review, it’s available on Amazon and a few other places.

Let’s take a look!

Unboxing and Gameplay


See Coke Can for perspective above as we open the box!


There are quite a number of punchouts … see above and below!

The insert is pretty nice (at first … see below).  It houses all the minis and cards and some dice.



In this game, each player takes the role of a hero and plays that hero:


You can play Vision, Wasp, Winter Solider, Hulk, Spiderman, or Black Panther.  See the minis above.  Now each character has some unique special powers, as described on their player cards (below).


Below is a close-up of the Winter Soldier’s card: Notice he has two plastic markers.  The top marker denotes how many hit points the hero has: if any hero ever goes to zero hit points, all players lose.  Note: this is not immediate!  Interestingly, this check is made at the very end of the turn, so if the heroes happen to achieve the mission results before the end of the turn and everyone dies, they still win!


The left marker denotes “power”: many abilities in the game are powered by power.  For example,  Winter Solider can spend 1 power for his Combat Reflexes (see above).


If there’s ever any doubt that this is a zombie game, seeing all the zombie standees set-up will relieve all doubt!  The zombies are also very intimidating!  See the picture above!  In this game, zombies do what zombies do: move towards the heroes and try to eat them!  There are plain zombies, fast zombies and tough zombies!! 


Of course, some Marvel heroes have been zombified already, and act as very scary zombies!! See Doctor Strange, Scarlet Witch, Iron Man, and Captain America on the cards above. Once the Zombie heroes get on the board, the game becomes a lot harder!  They are much more difficult to defeat! See their awesome little minis below.


In the game, the heroes will have to rescue bystanders from zombies.  Each bystander, once you rescue it, will give you some special powers: see their cards below.


There are bunch of different scenarios in the rulebook, each  describing the set-up and objectives.  In general, the objectives are to survive, rescue bystanders, and escape! See the tutorial mission below.


Using the cardboard tiles to set-up the city, you’ll see the set-up for scenario 1 like below:


Players move around the city and fight zombies, trying to save bystanders!  Each player has 3 action points to spend on movement, opening doors, fighting zombies, rescuing bystanders, and a few other things (some special per player).


Opening doors is a big deal: once you do, you reveal zombies within buildings!


Combat is dice-based: each character has its own notion of “what’s a success” and “how many dice to roll”.  


For example, Winter Soldier gets 2 dice on a melee attack (see COMBAT BLADE) , and hits on 3+ on the dice. (You can also spend power points to add more dice: 1 per power points).


Every zombie you kill gives you experience: the more experience you get, the more powers you unlock! Winter Solider starts with only the power in the blue zone (Assassinate) because his experience is 0 at the start of the game, but as he gains experience for killing zombies, he gains more powers!  At orange, he gets an extra action! At red, he can invoke Combat Reflexes! And dark red, he becomes a Hand-To-Hand Expert!



… but, the more experience you get, the more effective and numerous the zombies are!  When you look at an event card, you activate all colors matching your experience level (strictly, matching the highest experience level of any character)!  So, you get better as the game goes, but so do the Zombies!


You can also spend some of your action points to get a Heroic Trait!  Heroic Traits are cards you can discard to do cool stuff, but unfortunately, you can only ever have two. See some examples above.


Like most co-ops, play alternates between the good guys and the bad guys until someone wins! The zombies can win in a number of ways, but essentially killing a hero does it.  The heroes victory condition changes per scenario (but typically you have to save some bystanders and escape). 

The components are pretty great, if a little tiny: the cards and minis all feel one size too small, but they still work fine.  In general, I was happy with the components!



This rulebook was ok.  In general, everything was there.


The rulebook gets about a B on The Chair Test:  See above.  Some of the rulebook edges are flopping over the side of the chair: you can still read it, but it could be better.


The rulebook looks long (32 pages), but don’t despair! The last half of the rulebook contains scenarios.


The rulebook starts great with a Table of Contents and labelled look at all components! 


The next page helps you through some set-up: putting some things together.


This set-up picture was nice to have, but it would have been better to be the introductory set-up scenario shown in the picture.  The steps were also unlabelled: bummer.


In fact, the set-up spans two disjoint pages, making it that much harder to set-up.  Honestly, that was kind of a misstep in this rulebook.  But the game overview is good.


But, the rulebooks shows lots of pictures, and describes a lot of examples! It tends to lean a little bit too much on the pictures (which are very good at showing  lot of rules) at the expense of slightly better explanations.  

Each scenario is described on its own pages:

The rules end with an index (which I did use):


… and the last page includes some useful game info.


In general, this rulebook was decent to pretty good. I was able to learn the game solo and then teach my friends (looking up some rules while playing).

Solo Play


The game plays 1-4 players, so it does follow Saunders’ Law.  But, no matter how many players you have, there must always be 4 heroes in play!  That means the solo player must operate all 4 heroes by himself!  Luckily, the heroes special  powers aren’t that complicated (at first), so you can get into it.  Unfortunately, as the game ramps up, each hero has more and more powers to activate, so that makes each character harder and harder to play: the context switch between characters becomes longer and longer.


I was able to win my first play solo in the tutorial mode.  And I liked it.  But I worry …  as the scenarios themselves  get longer and more complex (the intro was pretty short), each hero will be that much harder to operate! The heroes will have more powers to keep track of, thus making the context switches between heroes that much harder.

But, I was able to learn the game solo, allowing me to teach my friends cooperatively.

Cooperative Play


Cooperative play is best at 4 players: each player takes the role of just one hero: that’s what we did! See above.


Something that seemed to emerge from cooperative play was some roleplaying!  Andrew, who played Hulk, really got into it …  and he was joking about carrying doors and J. Jonah Jameson around!  And I made web sounds for Spiderman, Sara made Wasp buzz, and Teresa made Winter Solder … get depressed … like he should!  Knowing the Marvel characters really helped up inhabit these characters!  It  naturally encouraged us to roleplay, making the game more fun.


Cooperation was bountiful: the Player Selected Turn Order really enhanced the cooperation.

What I Liked


Marvel Zombies: Heroes Resistance does have Player Selected Turn Order,  so that the heroes can decide per round in what order to play.  I’ve always really enjoyed this mechanism, as it helps encourage cooperation!  “What Order do we go in this time to make the best choices?”  I love that Marvel Zombies: Heroes’ Resistance has embraced this mechanism: it makes me like the game even more.  It gives us more choices!  (To be clear, this is coarse-grained PSTO, as players can choose the order to play, but each player has to take their full turn before the next player.  Other cooperative games, like The Reckoners have fine-grained PSTO where players can spread out all their actions across players!)


The game also looked really great on the board and everything was every easy to distinguish! See above!  The colored rings on the heroes really helped!  It’s why I spent so much time looking for rings in Hour of Need: the colored rings really help distinguish the heroes from each other.   The zombies, as orange standees, are clearly zombies!  The Zombie Heroes, as green minis, are clearly Zombie Heroes! The Bystanders, as blue standees, are clearly bystanders!  This, coupled with the city tiles really makes the game standout on the board.


I also liked that the zombies came out fast and really pretty terrifying! It really helped the game ambiance! If there were ever a game I didn’t want to come to life, it’s this one!  The zombie hoard was a bit terrifying as you saw more and more and more come out …

What I Didn’t Like


By far my biggest complaint in the game was the Target Priority: see the rules above.  Basically, when you are engaging in combat, players are forced to fight certain enemies before other enemies!  If there are 11 Walker zombies about to tear you to shreds, but a Brute and Zombie Hero is on the same space you must fight the Zombie Hero first, then the Brute, the Walkers!  This makes no sense to me: I should be able to target the zombies however I want! If the Winter Soldier wants to kill the Walkers so that Hulk can take out The Zombie Hero, you can’t do that! You MUST fight the zombies in Target Priority!! I hate this rule! It takes away player choice for no reason.  What’s even weirder is that Marvel Zombies: Heroes’ Resistance has Player Selected Turn Order, a mechanism that furthers player choice, but then removes some of  that choice with Target Priority!  Very strange.  I may never play with the Target Priority rule:  I really despise it! I feel like the game is playing me rather than me playing the game.


Another thing that seemed weird: the “1” on the dice is a “jaw with teeth”, but it kinda looks like a 6: see above.  “Did I roll 3 sixes?  Oh no, whoops! That’s a 1!”  I know the dice were doing that to be thematic, but the jaw choice looks a little too much like a 6.  It’s not a big deal, but it did trip us up a few times, really!


I also didn’t love that you always must have 4 heroes in play.  That’s great in a 4-Player game, seems manageable in a 2 or 3-Player game, but I think it has major maintenance consequences and context switch problems in solo mode.  

Another thing I don’t like: once you punch out the zombies out and try to pack everything up, the game doesn’t really fit in the box very well.  This was surprising, given how good the insert is.  The box just doesn’t close all the way …

IMG_4400 (1)



I was surprised how much I liked Marvel Zombies: Heroes’ Resistance, especially since I don’t like zombie games!! It was fun, the rules weren’t too complex, the game looks great on the board, each player feels unique, there are a lot of interesting choices, and even a little but of roleplaying seems to emerge when you play! Despite its zombie theme, me and my friends really enjoyed this. I think part of the enjoyment is that the Zombicide rules (that this game is based on) have gone through a lot of evolution to become the streamlined ruleset we see here.

Honestly, Marvel Zombies: Heroes’ Resistance might have made my Top 10 Cooperative Board and Cards Games of 2022 if it weren’t for the Target Priority rule! That one rule just sticks in my craw because it takes away from all the other great choices you can make in the game! Of course you can ignore that rule easily, and I honestly suspect a lot of people will accidentally ignore it (because it’s not thematic and easy to forget). My advice: ignore the rule and enjoy the game for what it is: 7.5 or 8/10 without the Target Priority rule. This is maybe a 6.5/10 with the rule: I really hate that rule.