Theme: Extremely strong. The game oozes with atmosphere. In the future generic tampering with the human genome gives rise to a post-human species known as “the evolved”. Seeing humans as a threat to the planet’s future, an apocalyptic event known as “The Fall” decimates humanity. Based on the backstory of one of the premade characters, “The Runner”, the game starts roughly two decades after The Fall. The human players are journeying across unknown lands to reach the fortress, a safe haven for humans. Players maintain an inventory of weapons, items, skills, supplies utilizing cards, chits, and cubes on a character sheet. Encounters are either atmospheric narration, a mini story with a skill check or decision point, or vibrant enemies: humans (doomsayer zealot, slavers, gang members, etc.), mutants (netboy, siren, whisperer, etc.), and animals (wilds dogs). As, events are happening in the form of season changes (winter depression, hurricane, etc.), and occurrences (trader caravan, finding a guide, being watched, etc.).
Players: 1-4. Posthuman is aimed at a multi-player experience, with the threat of players mutating and turning on their human players. The solo game removes a few cards, adds a fortress card to the event deck to create a timer aspect, and the winning conditions are slightly modified.
Price: $59.99. Given the quality of the components, the complexity, replayability, and session play times, I consider this a reasonable price.
Genre: Post-apocalyptic. A hybrid experience of a Eurogame and a Thematic (Ameritrash) game.
- Player conflict is non-existent (until/if player(s) become mutant)
- Non-elimination. Players who are Knocked Out (loss of all HP, loss of all morale, or starvation) are penalized by taking two scars, loss any followers, and move their character back to the starting position; however, they retain their place on the journey track and still have a chance to complete the game.
- High quality artwork and components
- Featured Designer, Gordon Calleja
- Intense theme
- Randomness from card & tile draws, and dice rolls
- Lots of components (8 custom meeples, 72 terrain tiles, 50 wooden cubes, 236 chits, 4 character sheets)
- Slew of cards (363 split across 17 categories)
- 16 custom d6 dice (9 Melee, 5 Shooting, 2 Defense), and 2 regular d6 dice.
Quality: Superb, beyond expectation. All of the cards have a nice smooth finish making shuffling and handling easy; the majority of the cards are the mini size (1.75W x 2.5L), and the event, character, and mutant turn cards are the standard size (2.5W x 3.5L). All the cardboard components easily and cleanly popped out of the shipping mats, and the connectors on the cardboard components were minimal. The terrain tiles are made from 1/16 inch cardboard, which gives them the minimum sturdiness; the character sheets are slightly thinner than the terrain tiles and care must be taken not to bend them. The wooden marker cubes are the 1/4 inch style and are uniformly painted. The custom, wooden meeples are fun; they give the appearance of a person backpacking, or a hunched mutant depending on your perspective. The custom dice are unique, using symbols from the game; the shooting dice are colored blue with gun sight symbols with numbers for range, X, and question marks; the melee dice are colored red with axe, shield, X, and question mark symbols; the Defense dice are colored green with similar symbols of the melee dice but with an extra shield. The board is 1/16 inch cardboard, and its primary design is tracking journey progress, and specifying locations for the various card decks. The rules booklet is large and colored, is 12 pages long, and with the last pages being a rules summary and symbol reference.
Storage: Cardboard insert. The internal storage of the game is a cardboard insert with two slots. The narrower slot fits all the terrain tiles and mini cards tightly enough to prevent them from sliding around. The large slot fits the character sheets, standard cards, the dice, meeples, and cardboard components. The rules booklet and board fit on top, leaving 3/4 inch of space left. Ultimately, the insert is functional, however if you expect to play this game a lot it demands a custom insert due to the sheer number of components. Currently, there is no commercial custom insert for Posthuman; a generic laser cut or plastic injection molded insert would accommodate the cards. To make your own insert, I recommend researching foamcore insert tutorials; the materials are cheap, as the primary cost is the time to design and implement the custom insert.
Artwork: Great, minor issues. The game team had a lead artist and five artists. The art is consistent and unified across components. The cover art captures the essence of the game, a ragged human leaving a destroyed town and golden field behind, venturing up a mountain path with a gun drawn and the other hand ready to unsheathe the knife. An ominous shadow is cast across the rocks; it can be interpreted to be the human’s. However, the shadow has a sinister, monstrous look to it, alluding to the external threats, but also the internal threat of becoming a mutant. The game board has the journey tracker, which is displayed as an aerial view of a path through the wilderness, across a bridge, up the mountain to the safety of the fortress. The depictions of the mutants, humans, items, etc add to the flavor. A downside was the mini cards are already small, and then the mutant and human artwork only takes a third or fourth of that card which restricts the amount of detail. For the character sheet the cube colors match their respectively slots, e.g., the health cube is green since that attribute it tied to strength. The six inventory slots are inside a duffel bag. The game makes extensive use of symbols; I counted over 60, which can be found on nearly every component. Related, there is a consistent color scheme, e.g., the ranged weapon cards utilize the color blue to match the blue shooting dice.
Learning: Moderate to Hard. I definitely recommend reading the rules booklet through once, watching how to play videos, and playing the game solo first. You’ll have to refer back to the rules many times during play. On page 11 there is the rules summary which you’ll want to have open. There’s a symbol summary on the back of the rules booklet, although it’s not as helpful as it could be. For instance, Do not, under any circumstances, introduce people new to boardgaming to this game. There’s a lot of moving parts with the stats, weapons, skills, equipment, dice, etc. It’ll overwhelm them and leave a bad taste. Combat in particular can be initially unintuitive. For instance if you have a shooting skill of 2, you roll 1 die, a shooting skill of 3, roll 2 dice. Not sure why they didn’t simply equate number of dice directly to your skill level. Dice results have to be interpreted. Shooting is a single round and hits equate to wounds, but then in melee you have three rounds and in each round you have to win or tie the round to do wounds. Huh? Then you have to remember you can reroll dice if your mind skill is high enough, or utilize defense dice if your speed is high enough. Each the shooting and melee dice have six different symbols and the defense dice has four symbols. Then weapons and stats can modify results, and enemy combatants, e.g., if the Rhino mutant gets a melee question mark, it does one hit, one wound, and one knockdown, or against the expert human hunter you have to reroll shooting hits. It all adds flavor but it also adds complexity.
Complexity: Moderate. Lots of moving parts to remember and reference. The event cards are straightforward to resolve. Paying the food cost is a simple check if you’re in a safe zone. Decision making can be straightforward when it comes to actions. Generally, you’ll want to scout ahead, forage when tiles are completed, move to have encounters, and camp to recover health and/or morale when they get low. As described in the learning section, combat is where things slow down, and there’s a lot to take in. Although it’s in front of you, keeping track of what your stats, skills, weapons, and equipment do taxes your memory.
Luck: Moderate. The terrain is generated each game from blindly drawing tiles. If the player is drawing more than one tile, they get to pick where to connect them to the current tile. Although the player can modify the number of dice and possible outcomes using weapons, equipment, and stats, combat revolves around dice rolling. Encounters are drawn from three decks based on the player’s journey progression. Those encounters are combat dice rolls against humans and mutants, or skill checks using normal d6 dice based on a scenario. The narration encounters utilizing a moral choice are limited. Nearly everything that isn’t based on dice rolls, is drawing a card from sizeable decks. The event cards can allow some choices, but these cards are often discarded during the early game because players are tied in some area, i.e., same level of journey points, no followers.
Interaction: Limited Between Humans, Moderate for Mutant Players vs Human Players. Players may trade items when they share the same terrain. Players may also take the place of enemies during encounters but they have no decisions to make, just rolling dice and helping interpret results. That is about it when it comes to interaction. Players develop their terrain separately so there is no interaction when choosing routes, foraging, etc. It’s only when a player becomes a mutant that interaction gets more direct as their new goal is to stop the human players. The mutant player then has access to a mutant actions deck with cards that attack players: mind attacks affecting morale, melee and ranged attacks to affect health, rerolling unsuccessful mutant rolls during encounters, and raiding the player’s food & ammo.
Waiting: Short, with the exception of combat. Most of the turn order is quick. The event is resolved for everybody at the same time. Everybody pays food costs at the same time. The main four actions, camp, forage, scout, and move, are resolved quickly. The only thing bogging things down is other players resolving combat. Potentially, a player may have two encounters, with each having potentially a ranged combat round, and three melee rounds. Each round of combat takes time to read the enemy powers and stats, figure out number of dice for the player and enemy, check initiative, roll dice, check modifiers, compare hits, calculate wounds, etc.
Length: 1-3 hours. The game says 30 minutes per player. Given the number of components, and depending on how they’re stored, setup can takes some time. Creating your own custom characters can take more time as well. The learning curve of the game slows things down as symbols have to be deciphered, understanding the human and mutant encounters the first time, and getting used to the combat system.
Replayability: High. Posthuman comes with six pre-made characters. Then, within the rules they have the option to create your own character. I’m sure people will be posting with character builds online, giving you more options. The terrain is generated from blindly drawing tiles. The decks have a number of cards. There’s nearly one hundred possible encounters, and several dozen weapons, equipment, and skills to choose from. Within the game players can utilize experience to increase stats or draw new skills.
Overall: A strong game with minor flaws. A unique game with a compelling theme that allows you to tell a story. You can tell the designer and the team put a lot of work in creating this game. The sheer number of components tells the scale. This scale also makes the game difficult to learn, as in the beginning you find yourself struggling to remember dice reroll options, symbol meanings, understand the combat system (ranged and melee), and searching the rules booklet for a keyword. I wish the combat system was explained better. The depth of the game, the variety of cards, the generation of the map, and the characters means each play through is a different experience.