Game Buzz: Postcard Games

Today, I’m going to talk about four games that are part of a current Kickstarter project. All four are postcard games – in other words, they game is compact enough to fit on a postcard that you could mail to someone. The project was put together by Brouhaha Games, and runs on Kickstarter until September 3.

Also, full disclosure, I designed one of the games in the project.

Cyberwolves is a micro-RPG, designed by Robin David. It’s a game for 2-9 players that has you building a wolf, then trying to complete a mission. One player is The Voice, who is basically the dungeon master for the group. The other players divvy up the remaining roles between then, each one with their own strengths. Each player will also have a list of eight disadvantages, from which they choose three that their own wolf has overcome through the use of a tool, skill, alteration, or social connection (these are Boons).

The game itself is played over three rounds, and the mission is entirely up to The Voice. Each round has increasing stakes, and The Voice decides what actions are easy (automatic success), difficult (require a contest to decide), or impossible (can’t be done). Contests basically involve rolling a d6, and the only success is on a roll of six. Extra rolls can be made if your wolf has the right strengths and/or Boons for the task. You can reroll by sacrificing a Boon. And, once per game, you may try to succeed at an impossible task through a contest, but failing an impossible task means the death of your wolf.

Not being an RPGer myself, I can see the benefit of having a game with very simple rules that leaves most everything up to the DM. It takes away a lot of the intimidating charts and combat rules, and leaves most everything up to your imagination. But also as a non-RPGer, that kind of thing stresses me out a bit. Still, I think the micro-RPG is a pretty cool idea.

Joust a Flesh Wound is a game by Brigham Redd. It’s a two player jousting game that kind of takes the old “Rock-Paper-Scissors” mechanism into a new (old?) century. This is the only game of the set where you don’t really need any components, other than something to track health. Basically, you choose your lance by making a hand gesture. The lance you choose determines when you strike during the round, but also could give you a benefit the later you go. When you attack, both players choose a number with their fingers (1-10), and show their totals at the same time. Based on the sum of the hands, the player could either stumble and lose a health, miss completely, hit, or win the game. If someone loses three health, they lose immediately, or if they are unhorsed in the attack.

The big appeal in this game is trying to read your opponent so you can get the best result possible. In that way, it’s a kind of social deduction game, but with only two players. It’s interesting that this is a game that is only played with the hands. Looking forward to trying this one.

Miseries of the Night is a solo game designed by…well, me. As such, this is the one in the project that I know the most about. I’ve talked a bit about it on the blog before, a little over a year ago while the one-page contest I entered it into was still going on. The title of the game comes from a set of ten randomly generated titles I had to choose from. I still wonder what the game Luxury Bananas would have looked like, but I’m happy with my choice.

The basic idea of the theme is that you’re on your nightly stroll through Dreamland when you notice an army of Miseries set to invade the waking world. You have to try to stop as many as you can before you wake up. My vision for Miseries was basically that they were hybrids of all those anxieties that people only seem to think of at night. In the end, the theme doesn’t really matter – it’s a 6×6 grid, and you’re writing numbers on it. Though, in my original draft, those numbers all had names and backstories – all that wouldn’t fit on a postcard.

To play, you need to provide your own dice – three of one color, and a fourth of another. Also, a dry erase marker. You’ll start by seeding the board with three Miseries. To play, you roll all four dice. The differently colored one is the Misery die and determines the strength of the Misery for this turn. You can choose what the other three represent – two will be the coordinates where the Misery pops up (and they can stack to make one Misery stronger), and the other are your movement points. You then move your pawn, and if you land on a Misery, you fight it. This is done by rolling a die (or two if you spend a health point) and seeing if your number is greater than or equal to the Misery’s strength. If so, it is defeated and becomes an X on the board. If not, you lose some health, but the Misery also weakens.

As you play, you can earn Lucidity points by beating Miseries by more than you need to. These can be spent for various other actions, like moving through Xs, getting extra movement, adding one to your die roll, rerolling, or even healing. If you ever get to a point where you’re out of health, or you cannot move, you wake up, then count the Xs on the board to get your score. You need at least 12 to have beaten back the Miseries for the night, and 18+ to have vanquished evil forever.

I never expected this game to go anywhere after it was designed, and I’m still a little weirded out that something I made is going to get played by people who actually paid money for it. And I have no idea if I’ll ever get to this point again, so I’m going to enjoy it.

Treasures of Microlandia is a two-player game from Milan Zivkovic. The game is set up like a deduction puzzle. Each player chooses a spot around the island to hide their treasure, writing it down on a separate piece of paper or on a provided card in the corner. Then, players take turns either asking a question about the location (i.e., is it next to a river, is it in the mountains, etc), or guessing the location. The first player to find the other player’s treasure wins.

This game has some very simple rules, and gives me a real Tobago vibe in the treasure huntin’ deduction aspect. It’s also a pretty cool map, and this seems like a good game to pull out in situations where you’re waiting as you don’t need anything other than something with which to write down your location.

So, those are the games. I haven’t played any of them, other than mine, but the cool thing about this project is that all four are very different from each other, so you have options for your play time. You can just get one for $3, PNPs of all four for $4, all four physical games for $8 (which also includes the PNP files), or any combination of 20+ games for $2 each. You can play them with dry erase markers, then send them on to someone else when you’re done. I, of course, am completely biased, but I think it’s pretty worth it. The campaign has already funded, and has even reached the first stretch goal to get bigger postcards. If you’re interested in checking it out, the link is up at the top of the page.

OK, that’s all for today. As always, stay safe out there and thanks for reading!

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