There’s a stack of shelves in our spare room that is groaning under the weight of many, many games. Card games, board games, and dice games lie alongside rulebooks for various roleplay games and are frequently pawed over before visiting people, or when we have people over.
Here then is one of the secret reasons why polycules gather: it’s the only way you can guarantee having enough people for a decent game of anything without going down the pub and dragging random people to the table. Most games need at least three or four people to play with any degree of complexity.
It’s one of the highlights of gathering loves, metamours, and kids around; now if only we could pick just one to play…
We’ve been introduced to a few new card games this last week, as we’ve casually extended our geekery in social situations. Lord S has been collecting a vast array of easily transportable games over the last few years, and brought a couple round on Sunday when he dropped by for a catch-up.
The first of these – Love Letter – he also brought to #Tuesday, where it served as social glue for conversations through the night – it’s a simple game ostensibly suitable for 2-4 players, but at one point we had 6 or 7 players round the table. The action is pretty much take a card, play a card, with the aim being to eliminate or hold on to the Princess card by a process of knocking other players out of contention.
It’s a fun system that also proved once more that the former-Lady M has great difficulty in counting cards or reading instructions (first noted while playing Cards Against Humanity). Lord S was heard to opine that it was the first time he had ever had to consider being a games master/referee for a card game. Hilarity ensued.
By way of total contrast we also played Gloom for the first time, and I’ve decided to buy a set for myself as soon as pay day arrives (unless someone is kind and generous and gets it for me first). Not only is Gloom a beautiful set of cards with a simple set of mechanics, but it is first and foremost about telling stories. I wonder why that appeals to me?
In Gloom you take control of a Gothically horrible family and your aim is to make their lives as miserable as possible before killing them. The cards also include positive events that you can play on yourself or more usually on other people. When a character has a negative score, they can have a death card played on them – if you have one. The lovely conceit holding the whole thing together though is that rather than just placing cards, you need to tell a rambling story, for which the punchline is the title of the card you wish to play. These include positive cards like “was the toast of the town”, “was enchanted by the circus”, and “purchased a peerage” as well as negative ones like “cursed by the Queen”, “went mildly mad”, and “shunned by society”. Death cards include “burned by a mob”, “baked in a pie”, and “ran out of air”
As we’re all horrible, horrible people we took great delight in fashioning the demise of these dreadful characters, and quickly found the stories interweaving as we picked up and played with throwaway locations, situations and jokes from other players.
Last night we finally got round to playing a game I was given for my birthday. Boss Monster has “The Dungeon Building Card Game” as its strapline, and takes its graphic style from 8-bit computer gaming. I’d heard good things about it, but we hadn’t really had time to explore it. As our hosts for the weekend are seriously into their tabletop games it seemed only fitting to bring it along with us.
We had a bit of a false start setting up – alcohol and overly complicated instructions will do that for you – but found a YouTube play tutorial that made it all a lot easier.
It’s a clever game, with some nice flourishes. Each Hero has flavour text, many of the illustrations give shouts out to famous book covers or film scenes (my favourite is a nod to the classic AD&D DM’s Guide cover), and gameplay is a lot more tactical than you might anticipate at first. This is particularly important when working out whether you want to attract marauding heroes to your Dungeon.
We played two games, with the second being much more assured and competitive, and replay value seems high. Now I’ve got the hang of the setup and play it’ll be a good go-to game to pull out with company and let the geekery flow.
I had an interesting evening yesterday down the pub with Lady M, the ex-Lady M, Charleesi and an old friend we’ll call Lady G and her partner – as you do – and we got on to the topic of games. Lady G used to be part of a tabletop gaming group I used to run many many moons ago, but has little interest in roleplay games these days.
What we did discover though was a shared love of Cards Against Humanity; and that she is also a backer for Exploding Kittens, so plans have now started to get our calendars aligned so we can break out the depravity, or at least the laser pointers, and have some old geeky fun.
This really is starting to almost sound like we have a social life. How very ordinary. I’ll do a review of Exploding Kittens when we get a game or two in, looks fun and best played with a glass or two in hand.