"SWAMP THING, defender of all good"

§ September 13th, 2004 § Filed under merchandise, swamp thing Comments Off on "SWAMP THING, defender of all good"

“DR. ANTON ARCANE, the twisted scientist, is preparing to drain the bayou in order to gain access to the vegetation and sediments at the bottom of the swamp. He believes that a series of experiments will reveal the secret of the origin of SWAMP THING and that once he possesses that secret, he can rule the world.

“Your mission is to protect the bayou against the evil DR. ANTON ARCANE and his mutant partners the UN-MEN!

“In order to save the bayou, you must travel through the swamp and confront ARCANE. Your journey will be perilous. Along the way you will have to overcome the dreaded UN-MEN – SKIN MAN, WEED KILLER, and DR. DEEMO. At the journey’s end you must battle and defeat DR. ANTON ARCANE!”

“Never fear! Help is at hand. SWAMP THING, defender of all good, is joined by TOMAHAWK, a Native American game warden, and Bayou Jack, a former Medal of Honor combat soldier. Together, these heroes help you foil DR. ANTON ARCANE’s wicked plans.”

And so begins the instructions for this game from Rose Art Industries (1991), for 2 to 4 players, even though the game comes with 6 player pieces:

Sadly, the pieces are not in the shape of Swamp Thing, as one would have hoped.

This boardgame was part of the massive marketing onslaught* that accompanied the very short-run Swamp Thing cartoon series, but unlike the cartoon, this game is actually somewhat enjoyable.

The board itself is fairly attractive:

Here’s a little closer look at a segment of the board:

Movement in the game is determined by cards:

Each player starts the game with three of the “Swamp Thing”-backed cards, which you can play one per turn. The cards are either just pure movement cards (the Swamp Thing card, where you can move your piece – in either direction – the number of spaces indicated); the Anton Arcane cards, which allow you to move other player’s pieces, hopefully onto a space detrimental to them; and the Escape Cards, which allow you to bypass the spaces on the board where you do battle with one of the Un-Men.

Doing battle with the Un-Men requires using the die (AKA the “Battle Die,” according to the instructions), and you must roll a number higher than the one indicated in the space in order to continue movement.

The Hero Cards, which you get to draw if you land on one of the spaces that tell you to do so, allow you to do one of three things: you can play one of your opponent’s Swamp Thing cards in place of your own; you can add to the number of spaces a Swamp Thing card tells you to move (a typo on the cards says that you add the number to the Hero card); or you can increase your die roll by one during battles.

Swamp Thing’s ability to enter “the Green” and regrow his body in other locations is duplicated by the “Green Spaces.” By landing on the space by exact count, you can move your piece directly to another location on the board. There are also red spaces on the board (marked with things like “Oil Slick causes you to return to Start!”) that, well, return you to the starting square. These aren’t as tragic as they seem, as there’s only three of them, and they’re all no more than about a dozen spaces from the start square…the game’s designers probably anticipated problems with younger players getting too frustrated at having to start over from a point much later in the game.

The game ends when you get to the final square, where Arcane is waiting…you have to roll a 6 (or a 5 and play one of your Hero cards) in order to defeat the big purple-headed guy and get him outta your bayou.

Anyway, it’s not a bad little game, and it’s fun for kids or drunk adults. It does sorta make one wonder what a game based on the comic book version of Swamp Thing would be like (“Eat hallucinogenic tuber – wander around the board for a couple hours;” “Send Arcane to Hell – take another turn”).

* Perhaps I exaggerate slightly.

[updated 9/20]

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