I received two (well, two and half, maybe three) games yesterday, and I'm excited enough about them to post about them here! Yay!
The first game is Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre, published by Cryptozoic Games
With a design sense that is somewhere between Munchkin, Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Flapjack, and a tongue planted firmly in cheek, this game is ridiculously entertaining, with nice high production values.
As the back of the box says:
"Did you know that magical wizards are battling to the death ... and beyond ...
right now!? "Why battle?" you might ask. "What have I got to prove, magic man?"
Only who's the most awesomely powerful battle wizard in the entire realm, that's
As a Battle Wizard, you'll put together up to three spell
components to craft millions* of spell combos. Your spells might kick ass, or
they could totally blow -- it's up to you to master the magic. You will unleash
massive damage on the faces of your wizard rivals in a no-holds-barred, all-out
burn-down to be the last Battle Wizard standing. And it doesn't stop there!
Powerful magic items bring on a whole new level of bloody carnage as you and
your mighty wizard opponents tear each other limb from limb in an orgy of
killing! Do you have what it takes to use epic spells in a war at Mt.
Skullzfyre? Will YOU be the Ultimate Battle Wizard!?! "
~The Back of the Box
While definitely not a game for kids, this is an extremely entertaining game. The artwork is top notch, the game mechanics are easy to pick up, but with sufficient complexity to keep you entertained. It uses a mixture of cards, counters and dice, as well as a true depiction of Mt. Skullzfyre to set up between the players! The object is to collect cards (spells) that link together to form more powerful spells! With player names like Jung Jung the Spirit Master, Pisster the Pissed Wizard, Fey Ticklebottom the Enchanter, and Princess Holiday and Her Furicorn, how can you go wrong? At $30, it seems a bit pricey at first, but once you crack the box you see where your money is going. The cards are hearty, the counters are thick cardboard, every piece of this seems built to last.
And seriously - a giant Mt. Skullzfyre! Shown here:
The second (and second and a half, well third) game(s) that I got was(were) Gloom (and Cthulhu Gloom). Both are essentially the same game, just with slightly different niche markets to cater to. The original version of the game, published by Atlas Games, was based on the art and aesthetic of Edward Gorey and has a marvelous gimmick that i'm honestly suprised has taken this long to be utilized.
The basic story is that you play a family who is faced with various trials and tribulations, which eventually result in their Untimely Deaths. You have a card for each member of the family, and you play additional cards on each member, each of which represents a new horrible thing that happens to them (pursued by poodles, that sort of Gorey-esque sort of thing). The trick here, and the brilliant mechanic, is that the cards are transparent, with the exception of various symbols which are strategically placed on the cards. As the cards are laid down, the effects described by the symbols activate, and as additional cards are laid down, symbols which are covered deactivate, while only the one on top is active. Each effect, each horrible situation you curse your family members with, lowers their self worth. Once it's as low as it can go, you can play an Untimely Death Card, which pulls the family member out of the board, and puts "points" on the board. The goal is to have the collectively lowest Self Worth by the time your entire family dies.
Sounds like fun, right? I might not have explained that as clearly as the rules do, but it's actually quite easy to pick up. But again, the design is where it's at - these are beautiful cards, and someone has gone to great lengths to ensure that this has an Edward Gorey feel to it. It probably helps that I'm a fan of Edward Gorey already, right?
Anyhow, Cthulhu Gloom is pretty much the same thing, just with Cthulhu references thrown in, since apparently you can just draw funny shapes on a 12 sided die, slap "Cthulhu!" on the cover and turn it into a succesful game about... rolling dice. No names there, but you know who I'm talking about. Anyhow, Cthulhu Gloom is basically the same joke told twice, and like most times, it's not quite as funny the second time around. I dunno, I guess I just preferred the understated humor of the original. Cthulhu Gloom just seems a bit... on the nose.
Still worth playing, mind you, I would just recommend that you pick one or the other, since once you have one you essentially have the other, just with a different set of artwork. So if that's important to you, you love Lovecraft and Gorey so equally that you can't have one without the other, or you just support this sort of thing existing and want to reward its creators, then by all means, buy both. At $24.95, it's not horribly unreasonable for a card game.
So, for anyone who has bothered to read this far down the page, and is interested in card games, are there other card games like this that I'm missing?