It’s not every day that I get excited about a Kickstarter campaign. And probably even less common is when I get excited about some new microgame that’s coming out. But starting from when I first heard about, and especially now that I’ve been able to see and experience, the new Pack O Game line coming out from Chris Handy and Perplext (his publishing company), I got excited.
The whole premise (and the name, of course) for these games is that they are literally just about the same size as a pack of gum. In this itsy-bitsy package, all the games include exactly 30 small cards (1 inch x 3 inches) and a little fold-out rulesheet. They’re cute and attractive, and many of us would probably pick up a few of them just for the novelty of having games that are truly as “micro” as they are.
But there’s some really cool stuff going on in these teensey-weensey packages. First of all, Chris has done a really amazing job of figuring out several different ways to use just 30 tiny cards. In just the four games that I’ve seen in person, you have a card/tile placement game, an auction game, a fighting game, and a dexterity game. So despite the very limited component constraints of the line, there’s a pretty huge variety in the gameplay available. More than that, from what I’ve seen and heard so far, there’s also a pretty huge quality of play in these small games as well.
I actually got some of the games in my hands after the Kickstarter campaign had already started, so I haven’t had as much time to play them as I would have liked. But as a long-time hardcore gamer, I was very impressed with both HUE and GEM in how much depth they both had.
In HUE, you have a hand of cards that are divided into 3 different colors. This division is done either vertically (into three big 1″x1″ squares) or horizontally (into three small strips running the length of the card). These cards are placed onto the table either beside other cards or even overlapping 1/3 of another card in order to make continuous areas of the different colors. The game ends when everyone has placed all but one of their cards, and their score is based on the largest area of the three colors on that last card in their hand. And in addition, everyone has one card with a “poison” symbol on it, which will cancel out an area of that color if you manage to play it into that area.
For a 5-10 minute game, I found it to have a ton of room for cool play and interesting choices. Just the fact that you get to choose which card to use for your scoring, and can even change which card it will be right up to when you have your last placement, it really neat. And, of course, you then have all the tactical choice of where to place your cards, sort of work together with others to build large areas of common interest, and maybe even bluff your opponents into thinking that you care about a color you really aren’t interesed in at all.
GEM is actually a very constrained and unique auction game. Everyone starts out with the same resources (coins of value 1, 2, and 3), which you use to bid on cards picturing 1 or 2 different gems. In addition to winning the auctions, you also have to use your money to “activate” the gems before you can use them to bid on items in later rounds and before they will count towards your score at the end of the game.
The big problem with these and all the other games is that the Kickstarter for all the Pack O Game games ends in just over a day. So if anything you’ve read here sounds interesting, I strongly encourage to go over to the Kickstarter page and consider backing them. It’s well exceeded its goal so far, so a $24 pledge for all four core games (HUE, GEM, TKO, and FLY) will now get you all the stretch goal games (TAJ, BUS, SHH, and LIE) as well.
The campaign ends tomorrow night at midnight (technically 12:00 on 8/31), though, so don’t wait too long or you’ll miss it!