Hello everybody! Today, I have another Rulebook Preview for you. In this Rulebook Preview, we will take a look at 4 unique and interesting games. Here are some anchor links if you want to jump directly to a particular game:
Pope or Nope
Pope or Nope is a fast card game for 2-8 players. It actually was recently on Kickstarter, but was cancelled to allow more time for development. It’s now currently planned for a re-launch soon! The creators of Pope or Nope have also successfully funded and launched a game called Serpents.
In Pope or Nope, you play as a cardinal attempting to gain favor with the dying pope. You do this by playing Deed cards. The first player to complete 5 Deeds wins the game! However, there’s a catch. Each round begins with all players drawing 5 cards and then playing any 1 Deed. These Deeds are numbered 1-4. Then, players take turns playing different kinds of cards. Players can play Crosses (which are also numbered 1-4) on top of a Deed of the same value. This negates the Deed. However, on your turn you can play another Deed of one higher value on top of a Cross to “redeem” the deed! This continues, causing a lot of back-and-forth action between the players. There are some other cards, such as a Nope card that negates any Deed, or the Pope card that can serve as any value of Deed. Players can invoke multiple deeds per round if they have a special card that lets them. At the end of the round, players score points for each un-crossed Deed they have, and the game continues!
I normally don’t do this for Rulebook Previews, but I decided to quickly check out the Tabletopia digital version to get a better idea of the feeling of the game. After seeing the game, it seems like there is a huge emphasis on negating other people’s cards. I initially worried a lot about this, since it seems like this could make it very difficult for players to score points, never-less 5 points. However, there are several ways to counteract the counters, so I think it may end up balancing out. I was also pleasantly surprised by the presence of some strategy, as initially I thought this would be a lot more social than strategical. For example, you might want your initial deed to be low if you have higher deeds in your hand so that you can wait for it to be crossed and then play a higher Deed over it. Or you might want to go all out and play your higher Deeds first, and just hope that your opponents don’t have the right Crosses. There’s also an element of saving your resources, because you probably don’t want to use all your cards early in the round and be dead in the water later on. However, if all players think this way and pass their turn, then the round ends! I really like the “Cancel” card, which can only cancel cards with a certain symbol on them. Because you can use the Cancel card offensively or defensively, holding onto it may be wise. Overall, Pope or Nope seems like an interesting and highly interactive game that is very simple to learn, but still has some strategy to it!
Rulebook: The rules are beautifully illustrated. I liked the fact that the rules were short and to the point, making them quick to read-through. In some ways, I feel like these may have also been negatives, as it was sometimes confusing to know which line to read next without there being a clear organizational flow. Some of the rules were a little bit unclear to me (for example, I wasn’t sure if players were supposed to discard their hands at the end of each round, or if there was a hand limit of any kind). Overall though, as this is an earlier draft of the rules, I’m sure any of these issues will be cleared up in time. You can see the rules yourself here.
Danger! The Game
I am looking forward to playing Danger! The Game, so much so that I couldn’t wait to get a copy to write about it! I plan to write about this game in more detail in a later post once I actually play, so keep an eye out for that. Danger! The Game has the potential to be the party game that finally clicks with me and a lot of others who quickly got tired of games like Cards Against Humanity. Because it is a storytelling game, players need to use creativity beyond what is simply written on their cards to vocalize why their plan works better than the other plans. It comes with clever mechanics and a fantastic theme that I really get a kick out of. Lets jump right in!
The game starts with one of the players (the Victim) getting themselves into a dangerous situation. My favorite that I’ve seen so far is “Surrounded by a group of disappointed fathers,” because that is truly a dangerous situation! Now that the Victim is in trouble, the other players have to each create a plan to save them from that situation. Each player draw 3 Tool cards and 3 Skill cards. Each player then picks 1 Tool and 1 Skill card from their hand, and uses them to explain how they would save the Victim. I really like how the players have to pick 2 cards that work together instead of just one card, as this increases the amount of possibilities by a ton without being too much information to process. Another smart thing is how the game allows players to explain themselves. For example, the rulebook states that you could use the Tool card “Epic Bass Drop” to have a giant free falling fish save the day. This allows for awesome out-of-the-box thinking and fun!
Once a player has proposed their plan, the other players can poke holes in the plan. This is also extremely smart, because it introduces interaction. Interaction is something sorely missing from many party games, and I think this is a great addition. Once every player has proposed a plan, the Victim chooses the best plan, and that player gets to keep the Danger card. The first player to 3 Danger cards wins the game. Once the round ends, players discard their Tool cards and Skill cards, and then draw back up to 3. I like how the hands are refreshing constantly, so that players won’t feel bogged down by crappy cards.
While you might still expect this game to have low amounts of interaction, there is one more type of card that makes the game much more interesting: Plot Twist cards. Each player gets 1 Plot Twist card at the beginning of the game. At any point in time, even in the middle of an explanation of a rescue, any player can play a Plot Twist Card. Plot Twists are played on a Skill, Tool, or Danger depending on the border. Once played, the current rescuer must incorporate the plot twist into their rescue plan! Finally, if you were a rescuer but did not win a Danger card that turn, you can draw a Pot Twist card. This creates interesting decisions, as you may want to play your Plot Twists to increase your chances of winning a round. However, by doing this you will quickly deplete your supply of Plot Twists. If you hold onto your Plot Twist cards for later, you might not be able to win rounds earlier in the game.
Rulebook: The rules did a nice job of introducing the game and all the different cards and ways to play. I thought they were very thorough and covered things such as modified rules for more players, and even a variant. The rules are fairly barebones, but it works fine given that it is a party game. The game is completed and you can actually buy it right now on Amazon here.
Assembly (+ App/Expansion)
Assembly is another game by Wren Games (the same company who created Sensor Ghosts), and it had a successful Kickstarter launch just a few months ago. Now, there’s an expansion planned to make the game even better! Assembly is also a co-operative puzzle game with secret information. In Assembly, you are trapped in space and have to take control of the space station to get back to Earth. In this game, time is your enemy, because you’ll die if you can’t escape on time. To make things worse, the computer is evil, and trying to trap you inside! Throughout all this chaos, you’ll have to communicate with your partner without actually talking to each-other (though you can try to communicate through sign language or something else). If that sounds too tough, there are variants where you can have limited communication or information. For this preview, I was given a copy of the digital app, which was another very nice addition to the Tabletop copy. It does cost money to purchase, but is a very nice way to play the game solo (you can’t play multiplayer on the app… yet!). It took me dozens of tries before I was able to beat the game on extreme difficulty (and even then, my score was pretty crappy).
Your goal is to lock all 12 blueprints, which are the 12 cards that make up the space station. In order to lock a blueprint, you need to have the correct module token on that blueprint and then take an action to lock it (you can lock 2 per action). These tokens each correspond to one of the 12 blueprints, which means that you could have a situation where the module token does not match the blueprint, and in this case that blueprint cannot be locked. You’ll need to take an action to move that module token, which can be a either-direction rotate action, a counter-clockwise rotation, or a swap action. This will move the token to a different module, allowing you to eventually lock that blueprint.
Sound like this would be easy? It gets harder. Firstly, there are malfunctions that can occur when you are trying to lock in a module. Thankfully, you get to know what these malfunctions are in advance, but it can make it harder to lock certain blueprints. Also, every time you run out of cards and have to reshuffle the deck, a “glitch” occurs. This shuffles up all the blueprints and redistributes them. These glitches have the potential to screw with your long-term strategies! But since you see them in advance, it creates some interesting decisions. Do you go for locking as many blueprints as soon as possible to mitigate glitches? Or do you instead take actions to deploy more modules and hope that you can draw into lock actions later on in the game when you need them? If you can anticipate the glitches correctly, they may even work in your favor by “resetting” the positions.
And that brings us to the crux of the game that ties this all into a very nice co-operative game not too different from games like Bridge. You have a partner, and you take turns playing one of 3 cards from your hand (each card representing an action). The catch is that the action you want to take must also be in your partner’s hand: or else the action is nullified. Don’t worry: if you don’t guess correctly you can still take the action if you really want to with a manual override: your partner has to choose to discard one of their cards though. This means that they’ll only have 2 cards on their next turn, which makes it harder to find a compatible action.
Assembly and Override Expansion
This expansion is actually 2 expansions in 1. Assembly helps create a more controllable experience. One of the potential issues with the base game is the amount of luck involved (personally, I didn’t mind this), and so Assembly makes it easier to control the results of the die rolls when deploying modules as you get to choose from 2 different modules to deploy. It also adds flexibility to each action, and adds a new action into the mix that holds a certain module in place temporarily! Override adds in robots that act like modules that you have to lock into place (and you have to lock in the robots with the modules). This can add some additional difficulty to the game. This preview is getting a bit long, so I’ll cut it off here, but there’s a bunch more cool new ideas in the expansions.
Rulebooks: The rulebooks were very clear and easy to understand, despite being lighter on the graphics. I especially enjoyed their additions of achievements at the back of the rules, as well as suggested ways to non-verbally communicate with sign language. You can read the base rulebook here.
This game is a little bit different from the other games listed here in that it is designed to be used in the classroom as an educational tool. They call this a “Gamification” kit, which is the idea that students can learn better if learning is presented like a game rather than a laborious chore. As a tutor, I am really interested in something like this, and eager to see how it would actually play out.
In WorldsXP, each student gets a character card and starts off with 0 XP. While they are in class, the teacher can award students XP for positive behavior, good test scores, or other activities (it is up to the teacher to decide). Students can earn rewards (such as candy or homework passes) for gaining experience points. I have a few initial concerns with the XP system as it is heavily reliant on extrinsic rewards. In my mind the experience point system is not too different from earning points towards a good grade. On the other hand, XP is positive in the sense that it feels like you are always “growing,” and it is nice to not have a cap on how well you can do. The creators do mention that as the teacher, you have the flexibility to modify the system to suit your needs. One thing that I would find interesting is a class-wide XP system where any earned XP helps the entire class. This would hopefully create a more collaborative environment where students are helping each-other towards a common goal rather than competing against each-other.
The second part of WorldsXP is roleplaying. This allows the teacher to essentially run a DnD campaign for the entire class. The teacher would pre-prepare a scenario and have the students collaborate together to try and accomplish the scenario goals. I think that this could be really fun for students, and serve as a really fun group exercise. That being said, as the guide mentions, it also runs the risk of being boring for some students, especially if it is just one or two students controlling the entire group. I think this could be very educational or very tedious depending on the teacher and the scenario.
Rulebook: They have asked me not to share the rulebook as it is still in the prototype phase. While it is hard to predict how this would actually play out within a classroom, I think it is great that the creators are trying to break up the monotony of school. My gut feeling is that XP will not be sustainable in the long run as students get tired of the extrinsic rewards. That being said, there is a lot of potential for the system in general, especially if the XP can be tied even further into the RPG elements of the game. I am really looking forward to seeing what other ideas WorldXP comes up with over time, so this is definitely one to keep an eye out for.
Which of these 4 games are you looking forward to the most? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks for reading!