- Travel/Hot Spots
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When we visited with the Gamers with Jobs crew a week ago, Shawn Andrich called me out on being “closet”. The reference for this (lest we all get a bit confused) was that I was truly itching to go with them to GenCon 2008 and that deep down inside, I was one of those gamers. You know, the kind that plays Magic the Gathering style CCG’s and secretly creates D&D campaigns when nobody is looking.
He’d be right, of course.
So while it may look like I’m simply making my weekly comic book run, the truth is I’m also doing much, much more. My local comic book shop is not just your average corner dork store. It just so happens to be one of the biggest and most badass of any shop in the Twin Cities Metro area. As such, they carry just as many collectible card games and RPG’s as they do comics. While I may be picking up the latest Iron Man, I’m also browsing these other aisles in search of the next great game that I can try to get the two bastards I call “friends” to play with me. It’s usually like pulling fucking teeth but I keep trying. Again and again.
In the midst of my defeat, however, a ray of hope surfaced in the form of my wife. Not much for the super complicated CCG’s she DOES play a good game of Uno and it wasn’t that far of a stretch to introduce her to some of the more causal card games that bordered on the geekery I so desperately need in my life. While I may not be able to pick up the latest expansion for the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game, I can at least get my fix satiated by bringing some of these games home for a round or two.
While browsing this week, I came across a simple white cardbox with plain black lettering that read “We Didn’t Playtest This At All”. The title is absurd, shockingly brazen and it got my attention right away. I’m instantly imagining a game of complete chaos and gaming moments that consist of nothing but breakdowns. Intrigued, I took a look at the back of the box, which read:
“Randomosity! This excellent non-word describes our game best. Enclosed in this box is pure chaos: You might win because you’re short, or lose because a dragon ate you. But don’t despair…The next game is only moments away.”
Of COURSE I bought this game. I took it home, put the kid to bed and set up for a game. The rules were simple:
“The objective of the game is to win! If you lose, you have not won, and you are in fact out of the game. If everyone except you has lost, you win!”
The instructions went on to explain that each player gets two cards and on each turn must both draw one and play one. Simple enough. What followed, however, was pure nonsensical gameplay. Seriously, some of these games lasted LESS than a minute. Upon drawing my hand, I saw this card:
What the fuck am I supposed to do with that? Play it, I figured. Maybe something would counter the card and the game would continue. To the surprise of both my wife and I, there was no counter card. The game, much like the name of the card, ended. We laughed and drew another hand.
I found this card:
Again, battle we did and one of us lost. We laughed at how ridiculous these twenty second games were and played on. On the next hand, one of my favorite cards popped up in my hand:
You just have to love a card that has spite as it’s motivating factor. What my wife and I were finding out as we continued to play was that the card description of “the next game is only moments away” was more than just hype to get you to buy the game. It was pure truth. Almost too truthful to be honest. With the feeling that skill isn’t really necessary to win, the games began to feel more akin to a bludgeoning by fate and luck. That can be fun and humorous for a short time but after awhile, it just ceases to be fun. It must be said that it IS nice to have an interesting card game that can be over in a few short minutes. I really feel like there is a niche for these short little “popcorn” game sessions. They can be a real boon to parents of a toddler with only 20 seconds to play anything before their child paints a Piccaso on the fridge in applesauce. However, the ugly truth is that games such as Uno or Flux do the same thing already and they do it better and with deeper gameplay.
To be fair, the game DOES have counter cards for some of the more nasty game ending cards and a couple of interesting ways to win are built into the cards as well. Such as, earn 15 points to win with subsequent cards in the deck giving you the choice of either using the card’s attribute or simply playing it for point value. While this does add some needed strategy to the game, the whole thing really just falls apart with only two players.
I came away from my time with We Didn’t Playtest This at All with the feeling that this game works better in larger groups of people and with a shit ton of alcohol applied. I can imagine the idea of these card being much more interesting when the outcome doesn’t end the game but simply thins out the herd. At that point, some tension can be reached and the luck/fate factor has a chance to spin the game out a little longer. It’s a party game to the core and while it’s not the best implementation, I’ve certainly played worse. I’m imagining that a crew with a few beers in them won’t even care the games are short and call for no skill or thought.
So, while it’s not the greatest game I’ve ever played, it deserves another shot in a party setting. I’ll make sure to keep you posted. If, that is, I can get those two bastards to play it with me…fuck.