Guess the Artist (available for pre-order) is an art history quiz game that comes in a sleek, colorful package. Each of the 60 cards gives three clues from which the players must guess an artist (who is named on the back, like a flashcard). The clues/illustrations, which are done by Craig & Karl, range from things the artist might have worn to methods and iconography that they used.
Even if you don’t know your Monet from your Manet, the reverse of each card gives the artist’s name and explains each of the clues very clearly. Because of this, Guess the Artist can easily be a learning tool for anyone wanting to brush up on art history. This is a beautiful game that will stand out on any bookshelf or table, and the amount of information packed into this little box makes it something you can return to again and again.
The paradox of Iota ($8 on Amazon) is that the cards are small, but you need a decent amount of table space to play the game. You play by adding cards to a grid. There are certain rules for playing cards, depending on how their color, shape, and number matches or doesn't match the neighboring card. We enjoyed playing this game with two players and three players (you can have up to four players).
Here's a review: Read the rest
Monopoly Deal is a $5 card game that takes 15-20 minutes to play and has lots of player interaction, and no mind numbing roll-and-move mechanic. Many of the 110 cards in the deck look familiar (money, properties, utilities). There are also action cards which can be used to collect rent, steal another players' property, cancel an action card, or used as money. Best of all, even the richest player is at risk of losing, so everyone stays interested in playing till the end.
I think the standard rules are fine, but I'm curious if anyone has come up with their own house rules? Read the rest
Odin’s Ravens is a gorgeous, quick, and easy-to-play card game for two players. The story behind the race at the heart of the game is simple: The Norse god Odin has two ravens, Huginn and Muninn. Every morning, he sends them out to circle the world and report back on what they see. The ravens have turned the daily ritual into a competition, as they race around Midgard to see who can return to Odin first. To win, neither of them are beyond calling on Loki, the trickster god, to thwart the journey of the other.
I absolutely love the production on this new edition of Odin’s Ravens, from the sturdy, very tome-like clamshell box, to the vivid and handsomely designed cards, to the two wooden ravens that serve as the playing pieces. Since the game itself is rather simple, it was smart of Osprey to up the aesthetic impact of the game. These two elements, ease-of-play and pleasing components, coupled with the mythological gloss of the backstory all combine to create a very satisfying gaming experience.
Odin’s Ravens is played out on a racing track of land cards. Each card depicts two different land types (mountains, forests, plains, desert, frozen northlands). Each raven starts on one of the two land tracks depicted on the two-part cards and races through all of the domains to arrive back at the beginning. Players have a deck of cards depicting the five different domains and must show a matching card from their hand that depicts the next land type they want to move onto. Read the rest
Churchill Solitaire is a card game for iOS that comes from an unexpected source: former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Inspired by a version of the game played by British war leader Winston Churchill, the game is free of charge and adheres to Rumsfeld's preference for minimalism and flat design, as seen in the post-2003 architecture of various Iraqi neighborhoods.
The Wall Street Journal reports that it's likely "the only videogame developed by an 83-year-old man using a Dictaphone to record memos for the programmers." Read the rest
Pixel Tactics is a two-player war game where you’ll be playing the part of an elite leader, steering a war band against the enemy. Both players have an identical deck of 25 cards, each representing a different character. Each card here acts differently when played in a certain rank, or used for their order ability. There’s a lot of variance in this game, since the leader that you’re playing will affect your strategy regarding the rest of the cards in your deck. Some of the leaders are combatants, and some of them help out the other units in your squad. Play continues until one of the leaders is taken out.
It’s a very portable game since the decks are small, and the rules come on a giant poster that is the play mat when flipped over. The art direction echoes sprite animations from retro video games and is charming. It’s pretty easy to pick up and play, but with all the variance, some analysis paralysis can set in from time to time. The games run really quickly though, usually in under 15 minutes per round, and with 3 to 5 rounds per game. – James Orr
Confession time: I’ve never read Moby Dick. I’ve meant to. I’ve tried to. I’ve even made significant headway. But I have yet to actually finish the novel. You might say that completing it is my white whale. Ahem. Apologies.
The point remains though, that even though I’ve never read the book, I know the story. I know the characters and I can make (most likely incorrect) references to elements from the book. Which is why, when I came across the Kickstarter campaign for Moby Dick, or The Card Game from King Post, I opted to back the project.
The delivered and currently available-for-purchase game is beautiful. 107 cards, 2 dice, and 40 oil tokens, plus rules make up the core set. The quality put into the components is outstanding – my set has been through numerous play throughs and still looks as clean and pretty as the day I got it. In fact, just in terms of art, this is one of the prettiest games I own.
But, how does the game play? This game will take some time and effort to play. Initial set-up is fairly easy and mainly involves putting a few key cards on the table. From there, crew selections are made. This is a longer process and where experience will come into play. Once the crews have been chosen, cards from The Sea deck are brought into play, putting the assembled crews through events pulled directly from the novel. If a whale card is pulled, the third part of the game, The Hunt, is brought into play. Read the rest
Reed Morgan Milewicz, a programmer and computer science researcher, may be the first person to teach an AI to do Magic, literally. Milewicz wowed a popular online MTG forum—as well as hacker forums like Y Combinator’s Hacker News and Reddit—when he posted the results of an experiment to “teach” a weak AI to auto-generate Magic cards. He shared a number of the bizarre “cards” his program had come up with, replete with their properly fantastical names (“Shring the Artist,” “Mided Hied Parira's Scepter”) and freshly invented abilities (“fuseback”). Players devoured the results.
Designed by both Elan Lee (Xbox, ARGs) and Shane Small (Xbox, Marvel), and illustrated by Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal), Exploding Kittens is a self-proclaimed “kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette.” This humorous, tension-building card game was both the most-backed and most-funded project in Kickstarter history in early 2015. The NSFW (Not Safe For Work) edition plays exactly like the standard edition, but contains mature imagery and text. This is definitely NOT for kids!
Instead of a loaded gun, you get exploding kittens. They’re not mean or vicious, just innocent and naïve (usually). They could mistake a stick of dynamite for a toy, or accidentally pull the pin on the hand grenade that they were munching on. If you draw an exploding kitten card on your turn, you explode, and are out of the game . . . unless you can diffuse the card by neutering the poor kitten, distract him with nature documentaries, or otherwise divert the kitten’s attention. Diffused kittens are always placed back into the draw pile.
The draw pile is never replenished, so the odds of drawing an exploding kitten increases as the game progresses. On your turn, you can play as many cards as you like, skipping your turn, attacking players, stealing cards, or negating a player’s action with a “nope” card. As the game goes on, the draw pile gets smaller while the tension gets higher. Only one person is walking away alive, and everybody knows it!
Exploding Kittens takes only a few minutes to learn and plays in about fifteen minutes. Read the rest