The A-Team: B.A. Lends A Hand In The Race For The Formula
Today's subject matter is, as you can see, a 1984 board game based on The A-Team. But before I start on that, I'd like to introduce something I have been working on for quite a while. People often bitch at me that I don't update the site enough. That's a valid complaint, but you have to realize that I have a lot of stuff going on besides this website. A LOT. For instance, did you know that I'm not some millionaire playboy with an unlimited amount of free time? I work a full-time job. Besides that, I have friends and family to whom I freely give a considerable amount of my time; I also enjoy playing video games. Oh, and I'm currently being treated for syphilis and gonorrhea. But more importantly, I am still in school. I am currently working on my Master's degree via online correspondence courses at WeAreLikeTotallyAccreditedAndStuff.com, a education website that prides itself on being "so not a hoax". All I have left to do is submit my thesis and, pending approval, I will officially be a Master of Pop Culture. Unfortunately my thesis, The Lexian Laws Of Pop Culture, is nowhere near done. But it has been started. And now, for the first time ever, I am going to put part of my thesis before a set of human eyes other than my own. Below you will find one of my Laws of Pop Culture. I spent countless hours working on this, and it's something that I'm very proud of:
Syd Lexia's First Law of Pop Culture: If it was popular between 1975 and 1995, then there is a board game based on it.
If you're a regular reader of the site, then you're probably familiar with my reviews of the Centipede and Clarissa Explains It All board games. But those are just the tip of the iceberg. Knight Rider had a board game. The $20,000 Pyramid had a board game. Batman Returns had a board game. Hell, even My Little Pony had a fucking board game. And oddly enough, All in the Family had a board game. In it, you had to guide Archie home safely from his job at the loading dock while avoiding pinkos, chinks, Heebs, and coloreds. Ha, you WISH the All in the Family board game was that awesome; unfortunately, it's just some gay question and answer game. But it does exist. With all these other questionable board games in existence, it should really come as no surprise to you that The A-Team had their own board game. I mean, come on, they're the fucking A-Team.
For anyone unfamiliar with television's The A-Team, please click here. There, that oughta learn ya not to know classic pop culture. But if for some reason you seriously don't give a shit about The A-Team and you're hellbent on reading this article, let me break it down for you: The A-Team was a TV show about a man by the name of Bosco " B.A." Baracus (Mr. T) and three other guys who weren't Mr. T. Together, they drove around in Mr. T's kickass van solving mysteries, helping people who were in trouble, and making stuff explode. Also, there was this chick who helped them. She was kinda cute in a 1980s sort of way, but the producers fired her. Then there was another chick who helped them, but she got fired too; The A-Team had no room in its ranks for pussies. The show ran for five seasons between 1983 and 1987, after which it was unceremoniously axed due to falling ratings. Despite its eventual cancellation, The A-Team was a very successful show when it debuted, a fact which can be directly attributed to this:
That's right, The A-Team got a fantastic write-up in the highly prestigious Muppet Magazine, an honor which few other television shows ever got. Wait a second, that's not right at all. The show was successful for a different reason and that reason was... wait for it... MISTER FUCKING T! That shouldn't come as any real shock though. I mean, can you even name any of other actors from the show? Of course you can't. I can, but that's because I'm fucking awesome. When Parker Brothers decided to make a board game based on The A-Team, they clearly took this into account. For example, consider the game's box:
You might notice that Mr. T's head is as big as Faceman, Hannibal, and Murdoch combined. You might notice that box proudly proclaims that there's a "Color Photo of B.A. Inside". And, if the above picture wasn't poorly cropped, you might notice that game's full title is The A-Team: B.A. Lends a Hand in the Race for the Formula. This was rather unfair to the other A-Team members, especially Hannibal, since he was the leader, but Parker Brothers made the right decision; the box art was instrumental in my decision to purchase this game from a local comic book and collectibles store and review it. There it sat, perched upon a shelf among board games such as Frogger, Dizzy Dizzy Dinosaur, and Electronic Talking Battleship, all of which are worthy of review. The A-Team won out for one simple reason: the promise of a color photograph of Mr. T was too great to pass up. So The A-Team came home with me. I eagerly opened up the box, expecting to find a 8" x 10" glossy of B.A. complete with a fake ass signature printed on it. You know, something I could hang up on my wall and pray to every night. Unfortunately, such was not the case. Instead, I opened the box and saw this:
The "color photo" that was previously promised to me is nothing more than the goddam box partition. That's some fucking bullshit right there. I can't pray to that. Hell, I can't even really take it out of the box. Fuck you, Parker Brothers and fuck your stupid swirly logo too. What the hell is that supposed to be, a fucking after-dinner mint? OK, I'm done bitching. Let's move on to the actual game...
The A-Team board game can be played with 2-4 people, which means 2-3 people and none of them get to play as B.A. Baracus. Now let's say you were about to play this game and you suddenly discovered that you couldn't play as Baracus, what would you do? You'd probably fucking kill yourself, right? You'd go down to the basement, find that big plastic container with all the Christmas lights in it, and then fucking hang yourself with them. Creepy, isn't? It's like I'm inside your head. But I've got some great news: you don't have to kill yourself, because I've ordered the game pieces from most desirable to least desirable, from left to right. They are: Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith, Lieutenant Templeton "Faceman" Peck, Captain "Howling Mad" Murdoch, and reporter Amy Allen. If you should ever chance to play this game, call dibs on Hannibal as soon as the box is opened. If someone objects, punch them in the face. Under no circumstances should you ever play as Amy Allen. She wasn't even a real member of The A-Team, she was just some skirt who followed them around hoping to get her holes filled.
If you've wondering where the hell this game has to do with B.A. Baracus, here's your answer: he's on six separate spaces on the game board, two of which are unnecessarily large. But *why* is Mr. Baracus on the board? And what is the "formula" that he's lending "a hand" in "the race" for? For the answers to read these question and more, here's a description of the game from the instruction manual:
The top secret formula for a famous soft drink has been stolen by a crafty madman and his evil band. They are holding it ransom at the island fortress from which they operate.
The internationally renowned company that owns the formula has hired The A-Team to go into the fortress and retrieve it before the public - and Wall Street - find out about it!
The madman knows that The A-Team are on to him so he has set up a deadly game which they must play once inside the fortress.
Dressed in outfits to look like fortress guards, The A-Team members must work alone to find the formula.
But Hannibal is crafty, too. He has sent B.A. in ahead of the others to infiltrate. B.A. knows "where it's at" and he'll be there to help you in your mission. Good luck!
There are a couple of things wrong with this. First of all, most madman have better things to do with their time than steal soft drink formulas. In fact, I'm pretty sure to earn the official title of madman, you need to steal at least TWO (2) nuclear warheads. Also, keep in mind that this game came out in 1984, a year before the New Coke was introduced, so the game's plot isn't a clever jab at the most infamous marketing disaster in American history. No, it's just an obvious attempt at providing a sterile, inoffensive plot that's "fun" for kids ages 7 and up. The problem is that this mission is so incredibly corny that not even The A-Team would take it. The A-Team may have been cheesy and formulaic, but they had better things to do with their time than track down a soft drink formula, things like saving orphanages and fighting biker gangs. They were not mercenaries for hire, they were the protectors of the downtrodden, and they rarely accepted a paycheck from their clients; to place The A-Team at the center of such a capitalist mission is an affront to everything they stood for.
The Other Stuff That Was In The Box
The A-Team game comes with a few additional pieces. First, there's the Top Secret Formula which The A-Team has been sent to retrieve. It is placed on the Vault square in the middle of the board. Whichever player makes it out of the Fortress with the Formula wins. Next, there are the Action cards. Each player starts the game with three Action cards. You can play one Action card on your turn, but only one. Once you've played an Action card, you draw a new one to replace it. You may also discard an Action card to draw a new one. You can only do this during your turn though, only once per turn, and you may not play an Action card if you do it. Finally, there's two dice: a green die and a red die. Until your character reaches The Vault, you will roll the green die on your turn to determine how spaces you will move. Once you have reached The Vault, you get to roll both dice on your turn.
The Spaces On The Board
There are six types of spaces in The A-Team game. First, there's the B.A. Says space, a magical space that's filled with completely unnecessary ellipses. B.A. only ever says one thing, and it's to roll again if you land on him during you turn. Next up, there's TV Monitor spaces. If you land on a TV Monitor space, you can pick a fight with any player who's not currently on a Safety Zone or Guard space. You roll the green die, your opponent rolls the red die, and whoever has the higher roll moves forward the difference between the two die rolls. So if you roll a 5 and the other player rolls a 2, you get to move forward three spaces; if there's a tie, both players reroll. Similarly, there are Guard spaces. If you land on a Guard space, you roll the green die and the red die together. The green die is you, the red die is the guard. If you win the roll, you move forward the difference between the two rolls. If you lose, you are caught; you can attempt to escape on your next turn by battling the guard again. Then there's the Safety Zone. When you're on a Safety Zone space, no one can fuck with you. Next, there are narrow passageways. Narrow passageways are, well, really fucking narrow. So narrow, in fact, that only one player can pass through one at a time. If, while moving forward, you need to pass through a narrow passageway that already has a player in it, your movement halts in the passageway and you must fight the other player. As always, whoever wins the dice war moves forward the difference between the two die rolls. Alternatively, if you land on any non-Guard, non-Safety space that is already occupied, you must immediately fight the other player, with the standard battle rules once again applying. Finally, there are the Weapons Lab spaces. Yes, scattered throughout the evil soda-stealing madman's island stronghold, you will find Weapons Labs which range from normal to secret to top secret to ULTIMATE. Now, clearly a group of chronic do-gooders such as The A-Team would take it upon themselves to neutralize these WMD stockpiles, right? Wrong. Those goofy bastards were contracted to rescue a cola formula, and by god, that's all they're gonna do. If you land on a Weapons Lab space, instead of doing something boldly heroic, you simply get to move forward some extra spaces, provided you have a special Action card. Speaking of which, let's take a look at the Action cards...
Teh Akshun Crads
There are four types of Action cards: Weapons Lab, Roving Guard Catches You, You Are Temporarily Sidetracked, and Oh Shit: It's B.A. Fucking Baracus. A Weapons Lab card can only be played if you land on a Weapons Lab that has a matching symbol. When played, it allows you to move forward the number of spaces printed on the card. A Roving Guard Catches You card can be played against any opponent who isn't in a Safety Zone. Doing so will send them backwards to the nearest guard space and they will have to wait until their turn to try and escape. Since this card can only be used to send a player backwards, it cannot be used on someone who has just the exited The Vault, as there is no Guard space for them to move back to. You Are Temporarily Sidetracked is another card you can play against anyone who's not in a Safety Zone, this time forcing them to lose an entire turn. The rulebook also states that you play the Roving Guard and Sidetrack cards on yourself, ostensibly as part of some bold strategic move, but it's not going to accomplish anything and you're a fucking tool for trying it. Then there's the Oh Shit: It's B.A. Fucking Baracus cards. When you play one of these cards, you have to do whatever B.A. says, which usually entails rolling the dice again or moving forward some number of spaces. You better fucking to do it quickly too; I pity the fool who wastes Mr. T's time.
As you might have read in the retardedly big text above, in order to win the game, you must be the player who successfully gets the Secret Formula out of the fortress. And since the madman hasn't bothered to make any copies of the formula, only one player can retrieve it from The Vault. So then, how do you win if another team member has already procured the formula? Easy, just beat him up and take it from him. Yes, in another total affront to the TV show, the board game forces you to fight your comrades for no particular reason. The A-Team's members were fiercely loyal to each another. They had to be; as the show's weekly introduction informed us, they were escaped convicts, on the run for "a crime they didn't commit". The last thing The A-Team would ever do is start punching each other in the throats over the bragging rights to being the guy who physically removed the formula from the fucking base. Not only that, but the goddam fortress is filled with guards, so while Faceman and Amy are busy having a fucktarded slapfight over the formula, a guard could come up behind them, pistol whip them into unconsciousness, and then rape them. Especially Faceman.
The A-Team's board game doesn't do a very good job of capturing the spirit of the show, but it is chock full of B.A. Baracus. Also, it's a reasonably fun experience. At the very least, it's reasonably short experience; with all those action cards and Roll Again spaces, you'll be in and out of the fortress faster than a drunken frat boy with a sorority pledge. And since most board games tend to go on long after they stop being fun, this brevity is a welcome change of pace. But really, that's really the nicest thing I can say about The A-Team game; it's short. Aside from that, it's the same as an other TV-based board game: faddish, poorly translated to the medium, and completely unnecessary. If for some reason you're hellbent on playing a game from 1984, I recommend trying the Commodore 64 version of Moonsweeper instead.
Instruction Booklet, Page 1
Instruction Booklet, Page 2
Instruction Booklet, Page 3
Instruction Booklet, Page 4
Color Photo of B.A
Posted by: Syd Lexia
COLOR PHOTO OF B.A. INSIDE!