Claustrophobia 1643 is a new take on the original game Claustrophobia, which was originally published nearly a decade ago. The new version of the game came to life courtesy of a unique Kickstarter campaign that was effectively used as a pre-order for the 10,000 copies of the game that publisher Monolith was already in the process of producing. While there were no stretch goals or other typical Kickstarter extras, the good news for people who chose to pledge for the game was that the turnaround time was extremely short from campaign to game delivery. Monolith sent us a production copy of the game, and it's exactly as advertised. We'll be following up with a full review soon, but in the meantime, let's take a look at what's in the box and talk about our initial impressions.
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The Claustrophobia 1643 box is beautiful. Other than some text on the two long sides the box is solid art from the game. It does a really good job of setting the tone of the game before you even get the box open. Once you open the box you are met with a numbered print, books in both English and French, and then the components, stacked neatly and securely. The box inserts is one of the better default inserts I've ever seen, so I wouldn't be worried about minis shifting around or components spilling everywhere if I decided to store the game on its side on my shelf.
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The miniatures in Claustrophobia 1643 are exactly as they were advertised during the Kickstarter campaign. They look like someone plucked them off of the screen and dropped them straight into the box. Some of the Demons are absolutely wicked looking, and the Western Warriors are all distinct enough that you can tell which is which at a glance. The minis are all hard plastic, yet they carry enough intricate detail that they would be a pleasure to paint.
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One of the coolest features of Claustrophobia 1643 are the dashboards. The cards for each mini slot into the dashboards like the meat in a sandwich, which allows you to slot components into them, such as damage, without worrying about a table bump ruining your session. The dashboards do obscure the visibility of some stats if you are sitting across the table from them, but when you have them directly in front of you it's easy to keep track of your miniatures' stats.
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The environment tiles in Claustrophobia 1643 are large, and made of thick cardboad. When they are all stacked together the stack is a bit intimidating, and stands about 6 inches tall. The art on the tiles is very evocative, and each tile is clearly marked, so it's easy to find specific tiles when a mission requires it. The other cardboard components are similarly thick, and they all store away in two included tuck-boxes that sit in the same slot as the tiles in the box. The dice are decent, if a bit hard to read, but the skull tokens that are used for damage are awesome.
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The rules for the game are the only place that Claustrophobia 1643 stumbles a bit, at least if you are an English speaker. The rules appear to have been written in French and then translated in to English, and there are a few places in the rules where French words are used in place of the English. It's fairly easy to figure out what they are referring to (the front and back of cards) but some of the verbiage isn't ideal in other places. Ultimately, I've been able to learn the game and play it a few times so far without too many issues, but I do have to refer to the book more often than I normally do with new games. I haven't noticed any issues with the Scenario Booklet, which has a staggering 20 scenarios, so ultimately it's only a minor issue in an otherwise fantastic product.
We'll be taking a closer look at Claustrophobia 1643 when we give the game a full review in the near future. It is quite a bit more strategic than it first appears, and the asymmetry of the two sides (the Infernal and the Western Warriors) is such that it's quite a bit of fun to re-play scenarios as the opposite faction. Claustrophobia 1643 is a strictly two-player affair, but if you have one person who you game with a lot then this game should be near the top of your list, especially if you and your gaming partner like to compete against each other head to head.
Claustrophobia 1643 is currently a limited printing, with only the aforementioned 10,000 copies being available. If you are interested in snapping up one of the remaining 2500 copies that weren't claimed during the first Kickstarter run then keep a close eye out on the Claustrophobia 1643 Kickstarter page, as Monolith are planning to do a flash campaign for the remaining copies in March, and keep a close eye here on TechRaptor for our forthcoming full review of the game.
The copy of Claustrophobia 1643 used for this preview was provided by Monolith.