Thanks to Long Tail Games for providing a review copy of this title.
Today’s review is going to be kind of an odd one. I tend to cover board and card games on this blog, and this is more of an RPG. Actually, it’s about 50. The project is called
Tiny Library is a concept from Long Tail Games. It consists of a deck of 50 business cards, each one showing a different role playing game. Some of these could be for a group, some solo, some for families, some definitely not, but every game is unique. It’s not published yet, but is supposed to be going up on Kickstarter tomorrow (August 31). (Edit: Never mind, it went up today, August 30)
Not being a typical role playing person myself, I was still pretty interested in this project. I like getting a variety in my deck of cards, and I think it’s cool that you can just shuffle them up, pick one, and play it as long as you have the required materials. Some games need dice, others need you to write things, but a good number of them just need your imagination.
I have not played most of the games here, but for the purposes of this review, I’m going to randomly pull out a few of the games and talk about them, as well as a couple of others that I thought looked interesting.
MECHA FOOTBALL: The idea of this game is that you are giant robots playing this game that has no rules. You can pick your own actions, but anything that is too dangerous or uncertain means it’s time to kick the ball. You can score by getting it to land title side up, or by kicking it through two fingers an opponent holds up. Failure means that an opponent gets to narrate what went wrong and what happens next. It takes paper football to the next level of storytelling, and that seems pretty interesting to me.
TINIEST WIZARD: To set this one up, you draw a tiny wizard on the card. Then you stick the card in a book and write down the word it indicates as one of your spells (you do this twice). After describing in 1-3 words why you became a wizard, you “recklessly fling the card” and start where it lands. Your tiny wizard trying to navigate across the room, going on one of three suggested adventures. This is a solo game, or one that I think it would be fun to play with family, with everyone imagining the trek of the tiny wizard.
WALLET DUNGEONS: This is a dungeon creation game where you roll dice, then find out on a chart what kind of room each one represents. These dice are all placed together to form the dungeon, and you roll another die to figure out encounters you have in each room. There are several charts on this card. It seems like you can just visualize the dungeon on the dice, or draw the results out (for the more artistic people). A really cool idea that can make for some very interesting dungeons. I think I’d want to use a lot of dice for this one.
DISILLUSION: This is a journaling game. You choose a character and a world, original or existing. Your character has been experiencing the world “wrong” for some reason, and you pick that. Then you start going through the journal prompts, each one that will build the world, exacerbate the wrongness, and build your character through it. This would be a very good creative writing exercise.
FLYERS: To set up this one, you pass random business cards around the table. Players add up digits to find their age and how many missions they’ve flown, and use other parts of the card to determine other parts of their character. For Act I, you talk about how you came to be in the war, how you became friends with the others, and reasons for becoming pilots. Act II is a bombing raid, in which players have to close their eyes and try to flick their card off the table without hitting anything. Those that succeed made it back alive, and meet up again for Act III, twenty years later, to reminisce about those who didn’t. A very interesting storytelling experience here.
I AM NOT YOUR FRIEND!: To play this one, you hand the card to someone else. It tells them that you are not their friend, but are in fact Tilda Swinton. The other person is given some prompts. They then keep the card to give to others. It’s the game that keeps giving, and I think it’s great.
IN THE STARS TONIGHT: This is a game to be played over two nights. On the first night, look at the stars for five minutes, then draw what you saw on the back of the card. The next night, remember how you felt looking at the stars, then draw a pattern using last night’s star positions. The last thing you do is tuck the card away where you might forget it, presumably so you find it many years down the road and remember your experience. This one seems like it has more of a goal to provide a meaningful experience rather than a game.
And that’s just seven of the games. You can see the variety, as well as a lot of the innovation involved. There’s a lot of imagination involved in coming up with different ways to use limited materials, as well as unique mechanisms to drive what you’re doing. I will confess, some of the games don’t make much sense to me as a board gamer who wants a lot of structure and rules. Most things on most cards are not said, and you have to fill in the gaps yourself.
IS IT BUZZWORTHY? I think this project is totally worth a look. I can imagine the fun of just randomly pulling out an RPG to play, even if it’s not going to be a super immersive world building experience. And there’s a bunch you can enjoy on your own, which is also cool. A friend of mine who was looking at the copy they sent me said this was exactly the kind of thing he would get for friends as gifts, and I can see that – just put one in your Christmas card and give your friends and family an extra something. Even if you don’t like everything in the box, I’m pretty confident you’ll still find something.
Thanks again to Long Tail Games for providing a review copy of this title, and thanks to you for reading!