take-that card game
Being all-at-once controversial and incredibly influential, The Binding of Isaac paved the way for an entire emergent genre of Video Games. It remains one of the greatest examples of a roguelike, harnessing the exploration and excitement of the Legend of Zelda-series with the palpable tension of permanent character death that would leave it’s footprint in many games to follow. The success and popularity of Isaac is particularly impressive given it’s downright bold use of religious symbolism, gross-out imagery, and body horror that are used to underscore a tragic story of abuse, neglect, and childhood trauma. This is why it’s especially interesting that the game’s designer, Edmund McMillen, has been working diligently to translate what some may call his best design into a card game.
The Binding of Isaac: Four Souls, is a take-that, semi-cooperative card game for 2-4 players and it has blown well past it’s funding goal on Kickstarter already. Players take control of a handful of familiar characters and collect loot, treasures, and fight monsters in an effort to be the first to gain four souls. Everyone will have to work together to survive and upgrade in the beginning, but as a player gets close to getting their fourth soul things inevitably get treacherous. All of the favorite, cute, weird, and/or funny items and powers are here, their mechanics a reverse-engineered reflection of their video game counterparts, as Edmund explains:
“It was really fun to take a well known item or monster from the game and think up ways to convey stuff like, How could I show that the carrion queen takes damage when you hit her butt? Or how could I represent the RNG aspects of cursed floors or troll bombs only using a deck of cards? Once we finished the first 4 player game session, I knew this was something super unique that really embodied everything people love about The Binding of Isaac.”
As noted by many within the community, the design feels very close to Munchkin, but admittedly a little less chaotic. While this is a take-that card game, the amount of cards and abilities able to be played at a given time have strict limits; careful timing is key. No matter how the thing plays, though, this is as sincere of a translation of this Indie darling that can exist, spearheaded by it’s creator himself, with a lot of fun swag to go along with it for fans. If you’re interested in learning more about The Binding of Isaac: Four Souls, check out the Kickstarter page for the full rules, FAQs, stretch goals, community feedback, and updates.
From Nickelodeon, IDW, and Steve Jackson Games, Munchkin Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is the newest edition of the popular take-that card game that allows players to compete as the heroes in a half shell while kicking down doors. Now on Kickstarter, 3-to-6 players can tread old territory of two fan-favorite franchises for a fresh product that aims to please. Featuring excellent art from TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman, now the classic Munchkin formula looks and feels better than ever. As described on the campaign page:
“Munchkin: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles puts you right into the roles of the Turtles to team up and fight evil! This game takes the butt-kicking, backflipping ninja stylings of the TMNT and combines it with the dungeon-exploring, loot-hoarding gameplay of Munchkin! Play as Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael along with April O’Neil and Casey Jones to take on Shredder, Krang and even more as you race to level 10.”
It cannot be understated that this game is using excellent art. For a series as weathered as Munchkin, this is absolutely the best these cards have ever looked and I’m sure fans of the turtles will agree. There’s also alternate art for player boards and the box itself available, all of which takes advantage of the classic comic-style that launched the TMNT franchise into what we know and love today. If you are interested in Munchkin Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, be sure to check out it’s Kickstarter campaign page to learn more!
The second expansion for Norsaga, Odds and Endings, is available for funding now on Kickstarter. This card game pits 2-4 vikings against each other to tell outlandish stories of their lineage through card play and embellishments. The expansion adds 48 more cards to the game, including Realms, Immortals, and Heirlooms which change the rules and offer new opportunities to players. As described via the campaign page:
“Odds and Endings introduces 3 new decks of cards: heirlooms and immortals provide permanent bonuses once unlocked, while realms change the fundamental rules of the game. It also includes additional base game cards, and updated 2nd Edition basic embellishments which accelerate the flow of the game.”
Not to bore anyone with simply adding more cards to the game, Odds and Endings seeks to make Norsaga more dynamic by adding more difficult decisions and shaking the strategy with these new cards. Heirlooms are definitely the most interesting of the bunch, as their existence in a game prohibits you from doing one of the basic actions of the game, using “embellishments” (Norsaga’s name for special powers). It takes a big sacrifice to flip them, but should you do so you are rewarded by not only gaining embellishments back but having more of them as well. If you’re interested in Odds and Endings, you can back it or find out more information by visiting the campaign page or by visiting Meromorph Games’ wesbite.
BaRPig is billed as “the unholy result of a one night stand between card-based role-playing games and a mostly ridiculous party“. Does this game live up to the moniker? Well you will have to play to find out.
The game of BaRPiG is played with a deck of 63 cards, and some dice, consisting of level cards, bar tabs, characters, and lots and lots of items. In the game everyone will roll their die, whoever has rolled the highest will be able to activate their character’s ability to do various actions. At that point people can play item cards they have to be able to block attacks or make their own attacks if they didn’t roll high enough. When an attack is resolved, the damage is dealt in losing sober points, lose too many and you fall back down to level 1. After the attacks then comes the market phase where you can use your bar tab to purchase item cards to help you in the next round. Then comes the next round where you start the process over again. First person to level 5 wins!
With a healthy amount of luck and a very much take that style, I think Munchkin fans might enjoy this game. However, don’t just go on my word, check out the Kickstarter page to make up your own mind.
The first game from the Bulgarian design team of Cherry Cannon Games, Among Thieves is a new take-that, light deduction game seeking funding on Kickstarter. Players take the role of thieves trying to prove who is the best by stealing from the city or each other, laying traps, foiling plans, and committing heists. Before going any further about what I see of the game, it’s best to summarize the game as is written on the campaign page:
Everyone has the same set of action cards and each turn selects two, placing them face-down in front of himself or herself. Then, starting with the Acting Master Thief (first player), all players take turns in revealing their cards and completing their effect. At the end of the round, one of the two actions played is secretly discarded and play continues until there is a clear winner.
The game’s theme is not particularly new as skulduggery is always such a convenient host for intrigue and deduction, but the game-play is not as easily defined as the theme. Having two cards and playing them one after another in a manner of action order selection is very Coup-esque, perhaps. Some of the cards are traps, gambits, or sabotage actions meant to counter-play anyone at the table, which requires that particular deduction element hobbyists have become accustomed to.
However, Coup never gave players the whole array of possible personalities/actions to pick from, nor the ability to hide what actions might be available from future rounds. Coup also didn’t have Among Thieves’ purely cutthroat demeanor nor it’s striking macabre Victorian caricature artwork that I, for one, find greatly under-appreciated. So it really is a great departure from Coup, and I’m glad! The quick-and-dirty-and-light social deduction genre could use a fresh perspective, and Cherry Cannon Games has just that. Be sure to check out their website, Kickstarter,and Facebook pages for more information and updates!
Dwarves are not known to be a generous bunch, but greed tends to go out the window when you life in on the line. In Dwarves in Trouble, you are a band of dwarves that have found a stash of gold, but little did you know it belonged to a dragon. Now you are in a race to see who can off-load their gold on the others before the dragon eats the greedier ones among you.
Dwarves in Trouble is a card game where on your turn you will play cards to give away your 20 gold to the other players. They in turn can play counteract cards to either cancel or modify the current action to benefit them as well. The game continues until either one player manages to get rid of all their gold, or the dragon card is drawn. At that point the dragon will eat everyone except for the person with the least amount of gold, making them the winner.
Art looks good and the project is fully funded, so if this game sounds interesting then head on over to the Kickstarter page to pledge for your own copy.
The Munchkin train just keeps on going and so in September it will make a stop to drop off a couple new releases. The biggest release for September is another guest artist edition of Munchkin, this time for Munchkin Pathfinder being illustrated by Shane White. Shane White is most notably known for being the artist of the Pathfinder Goblins series of comics, so look forward to that type of art to be front and center in Munchkin Pathfinder.
Next are some accessories for the Munchkin game in the form of two sets of card sleeves, one set depicting treasures and monsters, and the other depicting a dungeon entrance. The treasures and monsters set will be illustrated by Ian McGinty and will have opaque backs for the door and treasure cards so you will be able to seamlessly mix sets. The dungeon entrance sleeves are illustrated by Evan Palmer and are over sized to fit the larger dungeon cards included in Munchkin 6 and 6.5.
And the last bit is a new Kill-o-meter featuring art from Ian McGinty as well. Essentially it’s a dial let allows you to keep track of what your total power is, which makes things easier instead of having to add everything up multiple times. Look for all this to arrive in stores in September and you can read the announcement on the Steve Jackson Games site.
Munchkin is all about making fun of the many tropes that occur within fantasy and fantasy games, and for the most part it can be a fun and silly take-that type card game. So to celebrate all things Munchkin, Steve Jackson games has decided to write a book. The book has a laundry list of notable contributions from people like Liam McIntyre, Bonnie Burton, and Dave Banks; as well as pieces from:
- Designer of Munchkin, Steve Jackson
- Munchkin’s signature artist John Kovalic
- Steve Jackson Games “Munchkin Czar” Andrew Hackard
- CEO of Steve Jackson Games Phil Reed
Also in the book are 18 exclusive rules to be used in Munchkin so the book will not just be good for an interesting read, but also add more spice to your games of Munchkin. You can find the book at major book retailers today and read the full press release below.
The Munchkin Book
The Official Companion: Read the Essays * (Ab)use the Rules * Win the Game
By gently – and sometimes not so gently – mocking the fantasy dungeon crawl and the sacred cows of pop culture, the Munchkin card game has stabbed and sneaked and snickered a path to the pinnacle of success. Along the way, it has sold millions of copies, been translated around the world and spawned more than two dozen sequels and supplements. More fun than a Chainsaw of Bloody Dismemberment and more useful than a Chicken on Your Head, The Munchkin Book is a lighthearted and suitably snarky celebration of all things near and dear to the munchkin heart, featuring exclusive content from:
• Designer of Munchkin (as well as Ogre, Car Wars, and Illuminati) Steve Jackson
• Munchkin’s signature artist John Kovalic (creator of web comic Dork Tower)
• Steve Jackson Games “Munchkin Czar” Andrew Hackard
• CEO of Steve Jackson Games Phil Reed
The Munchkin Book also includes a foreword by New York Times bestselling author and Forgotten Realms creator Ed Greenwood, an introduction by editor James Lowder and contributions from geek culture notables, including: Andrew Zimmerman Jones * David M. Ewalt * Jennifer Steen * Joseph Scrimshaw * Randy Scheunemann * Jaym Gates * Dave Banks * Matt Forbeck *Christian Lindke * Bonnie Burton * Colm Lundberg * Liam McIntyre Steve Jackson Games, based in Austin, Texas, has been publishing games, game books, and magazines since 1980. Its best-selling game is Munchkin, with well over 2 million copies of the games and supplements in print worldwide. Other top sellers are GURPS (the Generic Universal RolePlaying System), Zombie Dice, and Illuminati. Past hits have included Car Wars and Toon. Steve’s very first game, Ogre, recently drew almost a million dollars’ worth of Kickstarter support for a super-deluxe edition to be released in 2013.
Available at bookstores everywhere and through Perseus Distribution | February 23, 2016
Toll-free number for orders only: 1-800-343-4499
ABOUT THE EDITOR
James Lowder has worked extensively on both sides of the editorial blotter. His bestselling, widely translated dark fantasy novels include Knight of the Black Rose and Prince of Lies, and his short fiction has appeared in such anthologies as Shadows Over Baker Street and The Repentant. As an editor he’s helmed over a dozen anthologies, including Curse of the Full Moon and the recent Smart Pop collection Triumph of the Walking Dead, and has directed book lines or series with subjects ranging from Arthurian Britain to zombies. His nonfiction writing on film and comics has seen print in Amazing Stories, Sci-Fi Universe, and the Smart Pop collections King Kong Is Back! and The Unauthorized X-Men.
ABOUT BENBELLA BOOKS
BenBella Books is a publishing boutique that aims to be the publisher of choice for a select group of authors who value personal attention, a partnership philosophy, flexibility, and a creative approach to marketing. Learn more at BenBellaBooks.com.
Title: The Munchkin Book: The Official Companion – Read the Essays * (Ab)use the Rules * Win the Game
Contributor: James Lowder
Publisher: BenBella Books, distributed by Perseus Distribution
Publication date: February 23, 2016
Format: Trade Paper
Page count: 288
Steve Jackson games has announced some expansions for Munchkin and Chez Geek that will be released in 2016.
First is a booster for Chez Geek called Chez Geek: Spring Break. This expansion will add 40 additional cards to the game with a spring break theme as well as add 16 over-sized event cards that change the rules of the game. Can you make the most of an inexplicable blizzard, or get some beach nookie? How about taking things on the road by going to Baja or attending SkiCon, no matter where you go, slacking off is still the goal. Expected release is April 2016.
Next is an expansion to an expansion for Munchkin, Munchkin 6.5: Terrible Tombs. Back in 2008, Munchkin 6: Demented Dungeons was released that added a new mechanic to the game, dungeons, so Steve Jackson Games wanted to expand on this with their Munchkin 6.5 release. This set will add an additional 20 dungeons to the game along with 16 portals to be able to get to them. The is completely usable by itself in case you don’t have Munchkin 6 yet, expected release is April 2016.
Last is for those who love puppies and Munchkin, Munchkin Puppies. This booster pack is similar to the Munchkin Kittens pack that was released earlier this year, but instead of evil cats, it’s adorable puppies, 30 of them to be exact. This pack will have the back to match the original munchkin set but is compatible with all sets of munchkin so take these puppies with you anywhere you go. Also of note is that these cards are being illustrated by the talented Katie Cook, who is also illustrating the Munchkin Cthulhu Guest Artist Edition. Expected release is April 2016
Munchkin Marvel, not exactly what you think of when someone says a new Marvel game is coming out. But that won’t stop Steve Jackson Games from capitalizing on the cinematic universe’s popularity by combining it with Munchkin. Not much has been revealed yet about the game other than it will still be typical Munchkin gameplay (can we say Spiderman in an Ironman suit?) and that there will be level trackers in the game as well as special S.H.I.E.L.D. ID cards for player identification. So unless Steve Jackson Games starts showing us some previews, we will just have to patiently wait until April 2016 for it’s release.
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