There are lots of card games out there and some of them feel very cookie cutter, whereas some of them stretch the boundaries of what most peoples concept of card games should be. Hooyah: Navy Seals Card Game has found the sweet spot. There is enough about this game to make it feel fresh while still retaining the comfortable feel of a casual card game.
Starting with the outside and working our way in, we see box art that is worthy of its title. No, the Navy SEALs have not endorsed this game, even though several former officers advised on some of its aspects. The box, its plastic internal separator, the cards, the health tokens, and the instruction manual are all high quality. The cards are easy to read, durable, same with the time counter device, and the health tokens are just as sturdy as they can even withstand limited exposure to mouthy kittens (results may vary depending on kitten and length of exposure). U.S. Games is a well established company and they put considerable resources behind this game, it looks and feels great.
The rules, and their book, are easy to read and easy to learn but do allow some time to actually read the rules. There are some card games out there that you can open and play, Hooyah is a bit more involved than that, but the small amount of time it takes to learn the rules is well worth it. Hooyah is a military game in a very abstract sense. The creators have done a good job of capturing some of the aspects of military missions, but in no way are claiming that this card game will replicate the actual feelings and emotions generated by an actual military excursion.
The game allows each player to assume a duty position on a SEAL team for a mission. Each of these positions are actual roles that different real life officers will assume on a mission, including a commander, medic, and a sniper. There are ten roles in total which allows the player quite a few variations on gameplay. Each role has special abilities and some of them will be more useful than others depending on the mission. The commander position is the most challenging as the person assuming this role will have to assume some leadership duties during the game.
Each mission, based on real SEAL missions, has objectives that have to be met for success. The Skills and Equipment Cards (seventy-five as well) contain some equipment that give bonuses, and success in the game hinges on matching having enough cards of a certain color or a combination of cards to “create” a card of the needed color. It might sound strange, but once you start playing the game, or watch several gameplay videos, it will become clear quickly.
An added bonus to this game is that there are solitaire rules. Anyone who has purchased a card game and wanted to play it only to find that their buddies are not available or not interested know that then you are left with a large card sized game paper weight. By providing a solitaire option, U.S. Games has doubled the amount of times this game can be played, and they’ve even gone so far as to translate the rules for Hooyah into German.
It’s easy to tell that this is a game that U.S. Games Systems are proud of and rightfully so! Hooyah is a homage to the Navy SEALs, a group of men who put their lives in harm’s way on an almost daily basis to protect the freedoms we sometimes take for granted. This game shows respect and at no time steps over any lines. U.S. Games Systems didn’t need to use former Navy SEALs as advisors on the game, it would have been fine without their input, but it wouldn’t have been near as good or felt near as real. This attention to detail is the cornerstone to successful military operations and to the success of this game.
I would recommend this game to anyone who enjoys card games as it plays as well as it looks! The opportunity to take a leadership role, and the concept of losing if any of the members of the team lose all of their health are two dynamics that make this game breathe. To call this game cooperative is a gross understatement. This game can’t be won unless every player is in to win and are willing to be team players. I could actually see this game being used in leadership classes or as a team building tool. Right now U.S. Games Systems is offering this game for the discounted price of $24.95 if ordered before 1/1/13, at which time the cost will increase to $32.95. At either price this game is worth it.
-- Cape Rust, Geek Culture. Geek Media. Geek Like!
Hooyah is much more than a war themed game…much more.
Mike Fitzgerald has ingeniously created a game that captures the feel of the challenge and rising tension that one would imagine is created when facing unthinkable real-life dangers without violence or controversial subject matter. Fitzgerald manages to do this with an elegant system that is less specific, less blatant and very intuitive. Using simply colors and numbers and some Seals imagery, the game’s objective rests firmly on the shoulders of the players, their interaction with each other and of course, communication. These challenges can only be overcome with training, expertise and teamwork.
On the subject of teamwork, many cooperative games force players into a situation where often the alpha player at the table suddenly becomes the boss, playing the game for the other players, diminishing the teamwork aspect of the cooperative motif. In Hooyah the player who is the Lieutenant Commander IS in charge and by the rules (of the game and the military) all players must answer to and defer to the LC’s decisions. Give the LC role to a more timid player and see what happens! The Time Counter device is a wonderful balancing mechanic that creates a time limit based on the difficulty of the Operation being attempted. Each of the 10 Navy Seal character cards also have special abilities that when combined create a sense of unity in the group rather than creating conflicts on who should do what. Combined with the LC’s role, this produces a very tight foundation for player interaction.
The rising tension of the game is manifested in the five Operations that players must complete in order moving up a visible ladder to the main Mission card. Trouble is, events that can use up your resources before attempting the OP increase in number as the game progresses. In a four-player game, for example, by the 5th OP, players must face 9 event cards (two per player plus one). In preparing for the Mission and Ops you plan and prepare as much as possible, but the real threat of failure looms ever-present.
Hooyah excels as a solitaire game. In fact, Fitzgerald admits that the game was developed and play-tested solely in solitaire mode long before testing with other additional players. For this attribute alone, where most solitaire rules fall a bit short (who wants to play alone?), the tension and challenge immerse a player even in solitaire mode – a tribute to the game’s tight design.
Mostly though, in Hooyah you have a game that doesn’t beat you over the head with theme. The danger is portrayed through tension not graphic violence. It doesn’t need minis or maps. The Missions are real-life missions, and if you feel inclined to read about them they are included in the rules. The weaponry exists as Equipment cards that provide an image, name and special ability but not damage values or ammunition ratings. As a family game, the basics of color/number matching, preparation and cooperation to achieve a goal are all qualities that parents would be proud for their children to learn. For any other gamer, it is a test of good communication, command structure, risk assessment and confidence – all qualities I am sure that any Navy Seal would need. And when a mission is accomplished, arms will be raised in victory – a sign of a truly immersive and expertly designed game experience.
Hooyah is a cooperative card game based on modern real world Navy SEAL missions published by U.S. Games Systems
This game is sexy from the inside out! The rules are easy to learn, the cards are stunning, and the gameplay is intense. HOOYAH is a well-executed, fast-paced game that maximizes your time on target. The time and energy put into this game shows the respect that U.S. Games has for the brave warriors of the U.S. Navy SEALS and the special operations they carry out in the dark of night, behind enemy lines while we sleep. Double check your gear and head over to the briefing room. There are evil people out there doing evil things, only you and your team can stop them! HOOYAH!
Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
This is a high quality product. U.S. Games Systems spared no expense producing this game. The cards are the right weight and the artwork is top notch. The text on the cards is easy to read and the font has the right military feel. The depictions of the equipment on the cards are accurate line drawings with some interesting factoids included. All of the pieces included with this game are high quality and will not fall apart even with repeated use. My kitten Tum Tum Monster Destroyer got hold of a few of the health counters and minus some cosmetic damage they are still quite useable (Tum Tum Monster Destroyer is an epic creature with a high challenge rating but your results with animal encounters might vary). The box art really gives a SEAL/Special Ops feel and like everything else the box is high quality.
Mechanics: 9 out of 10
Hooyah, does not try to replicate the stress of real world combat or real world operations. U.S. Games Systems has more respect for the uniformed services than that. This game really stresses cooperation and teamwork. Each player assumes real world SEAL team positions that give them special abilities. Team roles include things like sniper, commander, communications and medic. There are actually a total of 10 roles the players can assume providing a great deal of variation in game play. Most of the mechanics are based on having the right amount of cards of a certain color. The rules are more complex than that, but that is the baseline mechanic. Mike Fitzgerald, the creator of the game, was kind enough to add mechanics that drive cooperation (like a tabletop role-playing game) and actually places one of the players in a leadership role. If one of the players loses all of their health tokens, the mission is a failure. One of the values that many soldiers hold dear is that we don’t leave anyone behind. That is harder said than done, but always a goal. The rules are not hard to learn but it does take a few minutes to read through them. I recommend allotting at least a half hour before playing the game for the first time to read through and learn the rules. This game includes rules for solitaire play, which is very rare for any card game of this type.
Desire to Play: 10 out of 10
I wanted to play this game as soon as I saw an advertisement for it. I was in the military and this struck a chord with me right away. I was in the Army and I do feel the whole Navy SEAL thing has been played out, but this game is a genuine tribute to the SEAL and the amazing things they do. Every piece of this game adds to the desire to play. If you are not interested in anything military, just focus on the the team work and color matching aspect and you should still enjoy the game.
Overall: 10 out of 10
I had a great time learning how to play and actually playing this game. I have played it several times in groups and alone and enjoyed it every time. There are just enough other factors and variables in the game to keep it interesting and the amount of SEAL team role combinations possible at the table providing a vast amount of variations during game play. This game was designed to pay homage to not only the Navy SEALs but Special Operations and the military as a whole. If you are looking for a change of pace from your normal RPG or are getting tired of Magic or Munchkin, then this is a game great diversion. I can see Hooyah being used in leadership classes or for team-building exercises as well. No matter how or when you decide to play Hooyah, play it, it is fun. Lock and load, it’s a wild ride!
—Cape Rust, Role Player’s Chronicle
I’m always on the lookout for short solitaire and co-op games, so when I stumbled upon this goofy-looking box at the local game shop, I just had to give it a shot for the $30 sticker price. I had heard some decent things about it, and though the theme and art made it look like a cheap promotional game that’s really a recruiting tool in a bad disguise, I took the plunge. HOOYAH!
There are 150ish cards in the package, half of which are Ops cards and half of which are equipment and skill cards. The card stock has a pleasing appearance and a nice rough feel to it, though a few of my cards have seemed to scratch rather easily compared with nice linen-textured stock. Also included are oversized character, reference, and mission cards, a neat mission holder/stand, a handful of health tokens, the rulebook, and a really cool little mission timer/counter.
The graphic design on the cards is very well-done, though I feel the art on the characters leaves something to be desired. Everything meshes together nicely though. It’s always a little disappointing to spend over $20 on a card game and only get a tiny pack of flimsy cards, so I was pleased that the publisher went the extra mile to make sure players have everything they need to keep track of rounds and health without paper and pencil. It’s a nice package that makes you feel you got your money’s worth. But who cares? It’s all about the gameplay, so let’s see how that stacks up. HOOYAH!
This game sets up very quickly, an important factor in how often I’ll bust a game out for a lightning solitaire session. You’ll basically shuffle two decks, lay out a display from each, pick a character, grab five health tokens, and start. For comparison’s sake, it’s up and running faster than Space Hulk: Death Angel, which I’ve found a little physically fiddly due to the spatial element and all the different decks and hands to manage.
You’ll pick one of five missions to take your hardened Navy SEAL team on. One player in the group must be the Lt. Commander, who has the task of asking each player what he can contribute to the mission each round. Everyone else gets to pick a special class, each of which gets a bonus when playing a particular color or else has some other ability to help you on your way. Once everyone’s ready, you reveal the first “op”, a set of two colored and numbered cards in the middle of the table. (The rulebook literally says that the commander must call HOOYAH! for the ops phase to start. This is easily the best contribution to gaming in the past 10 or 15 years). Your goal is to play combined skill and equipment cards as a team to meet that color and number requirement. So if the middle has a green “2” and a purple “4”, you’ll need to play two green cards and four purple cards to pass the op.
The game has a neat little mechanic in the timer which acts as a balance against extremely high number requirements or extremely low numbers having been drawn: the combined number of the set is the number of turns your team gets to draw colored cards from the skills and equipment display before you must go on the op or start losing health each turn. So in the above example with a green 2 and a purple 4, you would collectively receive 6 turns in which to draw 2 cards each turn to prepare for the mission. While you might try to keep track of what people are picking up from the display, of course you won’t know what cards they drew blindly from the deck, so you must rely on the commander’s “roll call” ability.
The card play is sound, and the leader mechanic is novel. This game plays quickly and is better for it, as it never outstays its welcome. It also plays well solo as well as co-op, though in this case I think it’s better with three or four than with one or two. The pairing of set collection and a tense theme reminds me of Knizia’s Lord of the Rings cooperative, and indeed this game plays like LOTR Abridged. Any game that can pack that type of an experience into a half-hour or so is okay by me.
I like this game quite a bit, probably more than you’d think based on the relatively simple ruleset and thin dusting of theme. I feel that the theme is really what you make it--pretend the firepower ops are guys you’re picking off on the outskirts of the target compound, the tech ops are alarms you’re hacking before they go off, the air requirements are air support units running real-time surveillance. Still, it’s set collection and hand management at heart, and it’s not an easy game to lose oneself in.
In a lot of ways it’s again akin to Lord of the Rings, a game that can be polarizing as some do not like the way the theme was integrated. I personally love that game, and it’s one of the few I’ve rated “10” here on BGG, as it successfully abstracts the tension of the books if not a simulated page-by-page of what Frodo & Co. went through. So is it with HOOYAH: the game captures the building threats and problems of preparing for a mission, though you’re not rolling dice to headshot terrorists or gun down evil dictators. When it comes to immersion, while you won’t hear the bullets whizzing by your head, you may just hear the faint sound of choppers whirring in the distance. HOOYAH!
SEVEN HOOYAH'S OUT OF TEN
(Note: This game as a solitaire or co-op experience is far too easy if you’re playing by the rules as published. You’re just gaining way too many cards per turn to fail. But the designer posted variants that were originally intended to be included with the game here on BGG, and the game is far more tense with a selection of those.)
—Kyle Mann, Board Game Geek