Last fall I reviewed a little card game called Outpost: Siberia. Published by IDW Games, Outpost: Siberia had some great looking artwork and a fun theme. Unfortunately that was all the game had going for it as it was a hot mess. However, in the tin was a teaser flyer for Outpost: Amazon, the subject of today’s review. While I wasn’t too excited to jump back into the Outpost world again, I was curious to see if designers Daryl Andrews and Jonathan Gilmour had fixed what some would call a broken card game. Let’s find out!
The goal in Outpost: Amazon is to not only endure every card of the expedition deck, but to also capture wild monsters in cages. In this cooperative game, each player controls a unique explorer with their own special powers and hit points. The actual game is played over a series of rounds in which each player takes a turn.
A player starts their turn by drawing 3 cards, choosing one for their hand, one for the supply, and discarding the third. They can then take any actions desired, including attacking threats or using equipment from the supply. Finally they must endure an expedition card. These come in two varieties, events (which can be good or bad) and require the players to sacrifice a food or water from the supply (or lose a life) and monsters which attack a player when it enters play and usually also has a game effecting special power.
Monsters must be defeated by playing combat cards from your hand. If you get a monster to half life and have a net in the supply, you can cage it for end game VPs.
If the players endure the last card of the expedition deck, they win. If any player drops to zero HP or there are 5 monsters in play, the game is lost.
For a quick comparison to the original Outpost: Siberia, I can attest that Outpost: Amazon is not only a better game, but actually winnable, which didn’t seem possible at the lower player counts in the original.
That being said, I still can’t really recommend Outpost: Amazon as it’s just not all that much of an enjoyable game. Outside of the theme and art, it doesn’t have all that much going for it. The gameplay is fairly repetitive and pretty random. One of the reasons is that most rounds your characters will be taking damage, either from threats or events. And since the game is lost when any character dies, it means that the game quickly turns into just fishing for first aid kits while trying to fend off monsters. The problem is if the first aid kits don’t show up soon enough, it’s game over and there is nothing you can do about it. It’s this reliance on one type of card that really holds back Outpost: Amazon. That item is the linchpin of the whole game and it’s completely random if it will even be in your deck to start with.
The other issue with the game is that it doesn’t feel like it was edited very well. Some of the monsters have special abilities that really feel like they should be end of round abilities (because they don’t make sense otherwise), but aren’t labeled as such. In fact, the rule book even calls the game Outpost: Siberia at one point, meaning a find/replace was missed when creating the book for Outpost: Amazon. For such a small game, I expected a bit more attention to detail.
But not all is bad with Outpost: Amazon. The new items are a lot better than in the predecessor as first aid kits heal a character fully, you don’t need a weapon to finish off a monsters, and the net/cage mechanic helps give the game a bit more variety.
Finally, you are still going to want the max of 6 players when you play Outpost: Amazon. The game doesn’t really have rules for player scaling, so there really isn’t a benefit for going in with less explorers. With more players you have a much larger pool of hit points to suck up all those monster attacks.
The good news is that it is possible to beat Outpost: Amazon, even at the lower player counts (although that will take some luck). The bad news is that it’s still not a great game. For a quick playing cooperative card game, there are many other choices you can bring to the table. The gameplay in Outpost: Amazon isn’t all that engaging and after two misses, it’s probably for the best for IDW Games to just let this brand die in the depths of the jungle.
Final Score: 2 Stars – A much better game than its predecessor, but still has too many flaws to recommend.
• Good artwork and theme
• Cage mechanic helps add a bit of variety.
• Too random
• Very reliant on find first aid kits
• Needed better attention to detail