Savage Worlds has become one of my new obsessions lately – I find the system interesting and different to my new gamer eyes (yeah, yeah. Don’t roll you’re eyes at me – I know it’s very similar [evolved from?] the Deadlands system – however, it’s new to me). I’m currently working on a convention game using the system to run a game in the world of SPANC – Space Pirate Amazon Ninja Catgirls. Unfortunately, I am not very far in my planning (hopefully more soon), so I do not have enough to discuss in a blog post.
However, that lead me to think about all of the card games that I have been trying out lately. I am a BIG fan of card games – I like short, easy ones that you can whip out when it’s getting a little slow at a party or convention. Whenever I go to our gaming store, I check out the selection of card games and see if anything catches my fancy. I like board games as well, but card games are fun because they don’t usually require the time commitment or people commitment that epic board games do (like the big Fantasy Flight games). I decided to do a set of mini reviews of the games I’ve been obsessed with lately. Will these reviews be as complete or in depth as other places? No, just brief little blurbs. I will cover some games that you probably have played, and others you might not have. This is not meant to be comprehensive – I just wanted to put forth a couple of ideas for fun little distractions in between gaming sessions.
SPANC – As I mentioned above, it stands for Space Pirate Amazon Ninja Catgirls. I picked it up for the wackiness factor (who doesn’t love catgirls?), but found that it is a really fun game, more so than I was expecting. Two to four players can play (though, with four players the cards might seem to recycle too much). You control a gang of catgirls, lead by a captain, that go on capers for loot, toys, and poolboys. Each catgirl has a set of skills (“Space Pirate”, “Amazon”, “Ninja”, “Catgirl”) that will be used to get past each stage of the caper. Toys can be used to enhance these skills. There is also a PvP aspect in catfights – you can challenge other catgirls to fights to potentially steal their stuff or knock them out.
I really enjoy this game. The cards that make up the capers are funny and it’s a lot of fun to string together a story about how the gang gets through each caper (like, Mary Sue seduced the junior officer to get past the front door, but she was detained by the overfed lions. Ophellia had tightrope walk to get past the lions and then swing across gaping chasm. etc.) The games take about 30-40 minutes – we usually skipped out on the catfights, but if you fought each other over loot and toys, the game could run much longer. I recommend this game more on the fun, cheesy/pulpy atmosphere than on the game mechanics (not bad, just a little simplistic and could be boring if the theme wasn’t as interesting) – but I think it’s great, silly distraction game.
King’s Blood – I picked this game up because of the artwork – it’s gorgeous, especially if you are into manga-type artwork. The premise is simple: build a royal family tree using marriages, births, divorces, deaths, assassinations, etc. The game mechanics are very similar to Uno – cards can ‘match’ due to color or numbers and is very easy to pick up. Also, just like Uno, when you have one card left you have to declare ‘King’s Blood’. I’ve found that people get the hang of it very quickly (maybe because it’s so similar to Uno) and I have encountered very few people who dislike it. Games can very in length, but we’ve never had a game last longer than 40 minutes (usually shorter than that).
If you see this game, PICK IT UP! I don’t know if it’s out of print, but it’s very hard to find a copy (Amazon.com only has one on sale currently, and the seller wants over $600 for it). I picked it up at a con, but maybe your local gaming store has a copy. This game is so much fun, and because it’s so easy to pick up, we’ve been able to set up games quickly when we have guests over. The ‘story’ of the family tree can be hilarious and fun to build, and the artwork on the cards is beautiful. I can’t recommend this game enough – especially if you have friends who might not be as interested in more ‘in-depth’/geeky games – they can pick it up easily, but it’s much more interesting than just plain-old Uno.
Three-Dragon Ante & Three-Dragon Ante: Emperor’s Gambit – I grouped these games together because they are basically the same game. The original game was modeled after D&D 3.5 dragons, while Emperor’s Gambit has D&D 4.0 dragons. The games can be played separately, or mixed together (like an expansion pack). It’s supposed to be a gambling game – poker for the D&D world, so you will need some kind of chips or markers that you can use for ‘gold’. The instructions say that players could use the game as apart of their campaign, but I’ve only ever played it on its own. Like poker, there is a pot where players ante up and put in gold during play.
There are three rounds of play where the players build a ‘flight’ of dragons that are then compared against others’ flights. Whoever has the strongest flight, wins the pot; then another set of rounds begin. Each card has a power that can go off, but only if you play a card worth less than the leader’s card, so the game is more complicated than just playing your strongest dragon. Also, there are additional rules that can be applied that gives bonuses to players with all of the same type of dragon or other specific types of flights – which can turn the game quickly.
I highly enjoy this game, but it has a much steeper learning curve than the previous two. The rules are not hard, per se, but there are enough of them that it takes a couple of rounds to get the hang of it. I would recommend starting with one of the games, learn it, and then add the other game to it (if you are going to be playing with both decks). It’s not as easy to just pick up and play this game. Also, this game can be played with 2 players, but many of the powers will not work correctly with groups that small – so more players will be more fun. Games can last a while; rounds are fast, but to deplete someone of all of there gold can take a while. The art is very pretty, and both games are very fun to play (I have not tried to combine the two yet). I recommend this game, but I’ve found that we don’t play it as much as some of the others (probably because of how long the game could go on).
Gloom – The latest game that I’ve picked up and one of my new favorite games. The goal is to make the family that your are controlling as miserable as possible and then kill them. Cheery, right? It’s a fun premise in a morbid, dark humor kind of way. The game mechanics are easy to learn – not extremely simplistic, but they make sense and there are not many ‘what? why does that happen?’ moments. The length of games are also a nice balance between the extremes of instantly winning and going on forever (games last 30ish minutes).
The most interesting part about this game is the card design. The cards are all clear plastic, which allow cards to be played directly on top of each other allowing the player to still see through to the bottom. The game mechanics take this into account – cards can allow effects of other cards to show through, or replace/block those effects. This, in addition to being able to play cards on other players’ families, makes gameplay interesting and exciting. Because the game ends when all of a single family is dead, but the winner is determined by the most amount of negative points, it could be in the interest of a player to kill off his family fast – or kill off his oppenents family fast to end the game and cheat players out of points or try to string along the game as long as possible to get the maximum amount of points. There are many stategies that can be used in this game.
The morbid humor, in combination with the interesting game play mechanic makes this game very fun. It’s very replayable and I would definitely recommend you pick it up if you have a chance.
These are the couple of games that have caught my attention recently – and they are something different from Munchikin or Apples to Apples (both seem to be over played in my gaming circles). I have a million more – Chez Geek, Bang!, Flux – but they’re not as fresh in my mind. Any card game suggestions? I’m always looking for neat, fun, and fast card games to break out.