by Cedric Chin
Written by Marc Davis
Published by Alien Menace
"Hehehheheheheheh... FIRE!" -- Beavis.
Remember those safety public service announcements you saw as a kid? Dick Van
Dyke or another actor without a job would wander through a house, point to a
door with smoke billowing behind it, and say, "That's dangerous!" Then some
cartoon dog would say, "Take a Bite out of Crime!" or something.
In Danger Guy, you play a Danger Guy (aka. Stick Figure man) walking about a
map (someone's house, rooms left over from a random adventure game, the
Batcave, whatever), encountering dangerous hazards and objects, making things
safe, and sacrificing bits of your body in the process. Your objective is to
score the most points by making things safe. The game ends when the deck runs
The game consists of 100 cards and two sheets of 150+ counters. (You'll only
need to cut out 5 of them per person beforehand, or raid your Cheapass bits
box for pawns and matching counters.) The rules are three pages long, but the
information isn't organized well (you don't even know you're on a map until
the latter half of page two!).
Each player begins with seven cards and one "body" (two arms, two legs, one head;
I'll explain in a moment). In the initial round, players build the map by playing
any map cards they have in their hand. Map cards consist of Empty Map Tiles and
Dangerous Objects. Each map card has up to one entrance (warning cones) on each
side. These cones must line up with those on other cards, and as with most games, cards may not
At the beginning of each turn, you fill their hand to seven and immediately
play any map cards. Every turn, players can have one action for each arm, and may
move one map card per leg, in any combination. A few things count as an action: playing a
Danger card on an Empty Map Tile or Dangerous Object; playing a Counter card on the
same map card as your token to mitigate a Danger; or playing a Special card, per its
instructions. Danger cards create one of five types of danger (Electrical,
Environmental, Fire, Mechanical, or Sharpness), and Counter cards usually
mitigate only one of the five types. You may not discard a card from your hand.
At the end of your turn, play proceeds to the next player.
To score, whenever you mitigate a Danger on a Dangerous Object, you score a
point. If you mitigate the last Danger on an Object, you also score a number
of points equal to the number of Dangers mitigated on the object, and the
object is made safe. No more Dangers may be played on a safe Object. It's
Alien Menace's idea to use the word, "mitigate", not mine.
An Empty Map Tile (EMT) may not be crossed if it has a Danger on it. (The
rulebook calls Dangers on EMTs Hazards.) Hazards on EMTs are mitigated by
Counter cards (just like Dangers, so why call them Hazards?), but score no
points. Hazards played on an EMT do not affect a player's ability to leave it.
Professions are a type of Special card. When a Profession card is played, it comes into play
with three counters on it, which may be used to mitigate a particular Danger.
The Danger Ranger, for example, comes into play with three counters against
Environmental Dangers and Hazards. A counter may be used without taking an
action. If a player plays another Profession on himself, the previous
Profession and its counters is discarded.
Finally, you can sacrifice arms, legs, and your head to mitigate any Danger
or Hazard. This requires no actions. For each arm you sacrifice, you receive
one less Action per turn for the rest of the game. For each leg you
sacrifice, you receive one less Move per turn for the rest of the game. If
you sacrifice your head, you no longer play, but you receive a five point bonus.
The rulebook isn't written well. As I said, you don't even know you're using a
map until the second half of page two. The rules don't explicitly tell you that
you can only play Counter cards on the space you're on. (We soon realized that if
you could play Counter cards on any space, there was no need to move your
Danger Guy anywhere.) We're not sure why there are two scoring entries for losing
The first round of mapbuilding seems to favor the first player, who gets to
choose the most favorable path. It's pretty easy to "push" during the first few
turns (see below), with the possibility of the first few players making all the
Dangerous Objects in play safe, causing the others to do nothing during their
turns. This isn't really a problem with the game, but boy did the players who
couldn't take advantage of it whine a lot. Removing the initial round entirely seemed to
The most common scoring was "pushing". That is, make a dull but safe play, using
your first action to play a Danger, then your second action to Counter it. This
scored one point for Countering the Danger, one point for Countering the last
Danger on the object, and made the object safe, preventing other players from
playing Dangers on it and thus unable to score points.
Later in the game, as the map became larger, players went off in their own
directions. Since you don't always lay out map cards perpendicularly (ie.
short side to long side), it was easily possible to play paths of map cards
which wouldn't be able to join with each other, and paths eventually would
dead-end (an initial layout of isolated paths led to less player
interaction). This added some tactics to the game: do you "push" and prevent other
players from scoring along the path you're on, or would "pushing" keep you
behind whoever's winning the game? What will you do once you're out of Danger
Objects to score on your path? Hint: don't leave another player alone with a
Dangerous Object, because he'll just add more Dangers to it, and score
massive additional points for making it safe.
Professions are a nice mechanic. Since you have two Actions per turn, the
most Dangers you could remove is two per turn. Leave just one more Danger,
and some other player could make the Dangerous Object safe and score the
additional points. Professions allow you to remove the corresponding Danger
without using an Action. Smarter players would set up a Dangerous Object so
that two of the Actions would be mitgated by Counter cards, and the rest from
the Profession; since there were more than two Dangers on the Dangerous
Object, players without the Profession could not make the Dangerous Object
safe in one turn (see the three-Danger Dangerous Object, below).
A risky tactic we occasionally used was the "Most Dangerous Object in the
World". If you and another player find yourselves at a deadends with nothing
but "safe" Objects, and can't play Hazards on an EMT to delay an opponent,
keep piling Dangers on one Dangerous Object to prevent the leading player
from making it "safe" (or tempt him to lose an appendage!). Then move there
as quickly as possible. Since you two have more actions than the other
player, he won't be able to play Counters as quickly as you can play Dangers.
This often didn't work, but it did cause one player to rip off his arm, leg,
and head in one turn (okay, so he also did it because the game was almost
finished), and there was much rejoicing. One recommendation to prevent a
player from winning the game with a MDOitW is to only allow one appendage to
be sacrificed once per turn.
As mentioned, another conundrum was the three-Danger Dangerous Object with
an opponent nearby. Do you Counter any of the Dangers with your two Actions,
knowing that someone else may Counter the last Danger and score the bonus
points for making it safe? Or do you waste precious time, hoping someone else
will let you Counter the last danger? We thank Alien Menance for introducing
moments of anxiety in our otherwise boring lives.
Despite our complaints, we enjoyed this game. Danger Guy offers a surprising
amount of planning and player interaction, certainly more than you can shake
a stick at. Just make sure it's not flammable or you'll lose an arm.