Gretchinz! is a two-to-four-player game of frantic drag-racing madness, published by Devir, and licensed from Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40,000 property.
Each player controls a kart crewed by gretchin, the reckless, petty and cunning green-skinned slaves of the universe’s Ork warrior species. The players roll and re-roll three custom dice (each side has an Ork glyph representing some manoeuvre) to program their kart. The first to finish yells ‘Waaagh!’, immediately forcing the other players to stop rolling and program their karts with the last roll they made. Each kart then follows its instructions, no matter how barmy - swerving left or right over the treacherous terrain, drawing cards, or opening fire on other players.
Shooting is dangerous. Each player begins with a hand of five cards, but they can only see their opponents’ hands, not their own (Hanabi or Pikoko style). To shoot at another player’s kart means playing two cards from their own hand: if both are hits, the other player’s kart takes damage, but if either is a miss, the shooting player’s kart takes damage instead. Alternatively the player can shoot ahead of another player’s kart to make the terrain rougher, risking only one card. Some dice or terrain cards inform players how many ‘hit’ cards they have, but a kart forced over rough terrain or forced to shoot when its player has no cards will take more damage. Three damage and a kart is immobilised and misses a turn. First to cross the finish line (a mere seven terrain cards from the start line) wins.
Gretchinz! is a fast-paced game of crisis management, rather than a finesse racing game of braking and turning, and is playable in half an hour. While the dice and the cards often feel random, and it can be difficult to catch up once a player gets ahead, there’s rarely a lack of tactical choices, and nearly always an opportunity to attack the leader (or whoever shouted ‘Waaagh!’), to spread the misfortune around. Failing that the game will be over so quickly there isn’t much pent-up disappointment about stolen victories.
The game’s weakness is its two modes. Following the basic rules, players will get frustrated with the sixth dice side, which simply doesn’t have an instruction to follow. In the advanced rules, players are dealt one of seven clans, each with its own special rule (often using the sixth side), but these rules are simple rather than balanced.
The cardboard karts are attractive, sturdy, simple to assemble and configurable in multiple colours for ease of distinction, meaning that with a second copy of the game it can easily be extended to five to eight players. The cards are colourful on both sides while remaining clear to follow and ensuring a different race every play.
Red ones go faster, as the old Ork adage says. Though sometimes instead it just blows up. It’s a lot of fun.
GRETCHINZ! / DESIGNER: ROBERT FRAGA, YOHAN LEMONNIER / PUBLISHER: DEVIR GAMES, BLACK MONK, DEVIR / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW