Terror Below is a game of government experiments gone wild in the Nevada desert. The faster you move, the more vibrations you make, attracting the attention of the vicious worms underground. Navigate the difficult terrain to collect valuable worm eggs and deliver them to locations around town to claim bounties. If you're feeling lucky, collect items and weapons to go hunt 'em.
The goal of Terror Below is to be the first player to score 20 victory points (VP) by collecting worm eggs and delivering them to locations around town — or alternatively, by hunting down and killing those vicious worms.
During the game, your squad of unlikely heroes will visit locations around the small desert town to find bounties, scavenge for weapons, and try to survive as you distract the worms. Eventually, those worms will attack. If you are in their path of destruction, you better be prepared for a fight!
Designer: Mike Elliott
Artist: Eric Hibbeler
Publisher: Renegade Game Studios
Price: $42.98 Amazon.com
Terror Below is a “next step,” pick-up-and-deliver game in which players drive around the desert hunting the hulking sandworms that live underground. When the worms attack, they drop eggs on the ground, which players can take to nearby locations for points.
Terror Below might as well be called “Tremors: The Board Game,” since it is so clearly inspired by that series of movies. In this game, players are hunting Dune-style sandworms, collecting and delivering their eggs to earn bounties.
The game board begins with several worm eggs and a number of rubble pieces seeded on it.
Additional eggs and rubble will get added throughout the game, as worms attack. The top of the board shows 4 bounty cards, and the main area features 6 locations – bounties often refer to a specific one. At the bottom of the board, 3 worm cards show which worms are currently active. The card slots are numbered 1, 2, and 3, and they each have a corresponding target token that moves around the board, showing the actual, subterranean location of the worm. Each player receives a car piece that acts as their player marker, as well as a few different types of cards.
On a player’s turn, she begins by playing a vehicle card below a worm card.
In this example, the player played the Bicycle card below Ms. Tentacles. Vehicle cards often show movement arrows at the bottom, such as the down-right sequence on this card. The target marker corresponding to the worm is moved accordingly on the board. (Notice that the “2” token moved down and right from where it began.)
Once the worm’s movement has been resolved, the active player may take the number of actions listed at the top of the vehicle card – 3, in this case. Actions can involve clearing rubble in an adjacent space, moving into a rubble-free adjacent space, picking up an egg, or delivering an egg. Whenever a player collects 3 rubble, she immediately discards them and draws a weapon or item card.
Any egg can be delivered to any location for 1 point, but if a player fulfills the conditions of a bounty card (ex. Deliver a blue egg to the Motel), she will earn its points instead. Locations offer unique delivery bonuses, such as an extra point, a weapon card, or an item card. When the player has completed her actions, she resolves any text on the vehicle card.
Each worm card has a number in the lower-right corner, which determines when it attacks. If the number of vehicle cards played on it equals this number, the worm bursts from the ground, spreading destruction. Worm cards also show a pattern of rubble that gets placed when they attack. Any time a player piece is in the area of the attack, that player has a chance to hunt the worm, using weapons she has acquired.
Worms have a number of hit points, as shown on their cards. If the players can collectively deal that much or more damage to an attacking worm, they defeat it, and the player who delivered the killing blow gets 1 point. If the players cannot defeat it, then any player involved in the worm attack loses a character (each player has 3).
The game can end in 2 ways:
- If a player reaches 20 points, she wins immediately.
- Otherwise, if a player’s last character dies, all other players get a final turn, and the surviving player with the highest score wins.
Terror Below is a very entertaining game. It is not particularly strategic, but it has such a keen, self-aware sense of humor that it doesn’t seem to matter. Its theme evokes amazing mental imagery – a v-neck-wearing life coach, riding a bicycle around Area 51, hunting a sandworm with a potato gun, while an 18-wheeler jumps over a nearby car. Try to name another game that does that.
Mechanically, Terror Below works quite well, and it fits squarely into the “gateway-plus” category. The game offers multiple avenues to victory; it is just as viable a strategy to clear a bunch of rubble in search of weapons as it is to grab eggs and fulfill bounties. It may take a turn or two for the rules to “click,” but players should have a handle on the game quickly.
The game’s production is quite nice, with dynamic art and detailed components. The box is just the right size, and it includes a foam insert to keep the irregularly-shaped board from banging around inside. The spot-UV detailing on the box and board look slick and provide an attractive sheen. Included in the box are a number of large worm standees, which have no purpose except thematic table decoration. Completely unnecessary, but completely awesome.
I had a great time trying this game out. I always enjoy ultra-thematic games, and Terror Below fits that bill. Players who prefer deeper strategy games probably won’t care for it as much, but it is perfect for a casual/family game night setting. I highly recommend giving it a try (and tying it in with a screening of Tremors!).
A review copy was provided by Renegade Game Studios.
+ Great production and components
+ Amazing thematic integration, with lots of humorous gameplay moments
- Turns can slow down at higher player counts, and there is little room for pre-planning