Some things are difficult in life: getting into an Ivy League school, winning an Olympic Gold Medal, climbing Mt. Everest. You can now add winning Outpost Siberia to that list.
To say surviving Outpost Siberia is a challenge is the understatement of the year. You will die. Over and over again. Sometimes it will be of thirst, other times you'll perish in the claws of some sort of mutant snow beast. But rest assured, you will meet your end in the cold Siberian snow and there is nothing you can do about it.
But is it fun for frustrating? Let's find out.
In Outpost Siberia, a team of scientists at a remote Siberian outpost work together to survive the onslaught of a severe storm. If that weren't enough, strange mutant beasts are lurking, waiting to take advantage of the inhospitable conditions and grab a quick scientist snack.
Players each have a set amount of health and a dedicated special ability. They draw cards from an Outpost pile to gain supplies and equipment and earn points to attack threats with. Then they draw from an Expedition pile and are faced with Threats (mutant snow beasts), good events or bad events. In keeping with the difficulty of this game, even good events require the usage of limited food or water supplies and usually end up resulting in a team member losing health.
Outpost Siberia is a white-knuckled fight for survival. Your adrenal glands will be tired after this one.
Two words come to mind after playing this game: Brutal and Economical. We have already covered the thematically-appropriate difficulty, but there are some interesting design choices here that bring the size and the cost of the game down, with some definite trade-offs.
The game consists entirely of a small metal tin, a deck of cards, an instruction book and six cardboard health tokens. That's it. There may have never been a more economical attempt to cram so much content into such a small package. Each of the cards can be read either right side up or upside down and features the same back. This can lead to quite a bit of confusion at first. Which side of the card are we playing again? Which one is the Outpost Pile and which is the Expedition Pile?
The cards contain so much information that each one could have easily been split up into stand-alone cards in 2-4 separate decks. Most games like this would have included a game board, dedicated mats and some game pieces/tokens.
Your mileage may vary, but this focus on economy does result in an extremely affordable and portable game with far more depth and gameplay possibilities than most games of its size/price point. This game was made to fit in your purse (or murse).
The gameplay results in some extremely tense moments as your team works together in a futile attempt to survive. Whether you'll enjoy it or not largely comes down to how much of a glutton for suspense and punishment you are.
Difficulty aside, there's a very fun game in here and you'll get way more for your money than you do out of typical games of this size/pricepoint. While we're not 100% sure whether the difficulty was intentional, it certainly fits the theme of the game and is satisfying in that 8-bit video game sort of way ("We died? Let's try again!") Below this review you'll find some recommended house rules if you'd like to give this a shot and still have a chance of winning.
- Intense cooperative play
- Excellent artwork on the bizarre snow creatures
- Compact and portable
- High value gameplay to price point ratio
- If you're a challenge junkie, you will love this game
- House rules can ease the difficulty pretty easily
- Punishing difficulty may be offputting for some
- Though perfect for portability and the low price point, a full-featured version of the game could definitely be justified for the home experience
Gateway Game Score - 6/10
Overall Score - 8/10
Article by The Happy Strategerist, who was simultaneously killed by Thirst, Starvation, Frost Bite and a Rabid Siberian Lynx.
What do you think? Have you managed to win a game yet? Any house rules that help you survive once in a while? Let us know in the comments below.
Bonus House Rules
We recommend trying all of these at first and removing one each game until you reach a difficulty level you find satisfying. Who are we kidding? You'll probably still die.
- Draw three Outpost cards and keep two in your hand each turn
- Good event cards are free and never result in the loss of health
- Monsters are killed after taking the proper amount of damage and don't require a weapon to finish them off
- One player regains a unit of health each turn