Gaming Spotlight – Cards Against Humanity

So for this Gaming Spotlight I’m going to review something a bit different, a card game.  Cards Against Humanity was created by a group of friends for a New Years Eve Celebration, and then developed further for wider release later.  Funds were created using Kickstarter, a company that offers media creatives a way to fund/develop their projects through peer pledges.  Cards Against Humanity is a game designed to be played by you and your friends (ideally 4 – 20+ players), and reveals how well you know your compadre’s sense of humour.  Now a slight warning is needed with this game as some of the cards are quite…. shall we say adult in nature, giving it a suggested age rating of 17+.  The game originally was released solely for USA release, but recently due to popular demand a UK version has been unveiled (this is the version I purchased).

Best. Game. EVER!

Will Wheaton

Gameplay

So down to the nitty-gritty.  How is the game played? Inside the box are two sets of cards, one Black and one White.  The Black Cards contain either a question or a fill-in-the-blank style statement, the White Cards have the corresponding answers.  At the start of the game each player draws ten White Cards that only they may see for the time being.  Now bear with me, as this is what it says in the actual instructions:

“The player who recently pooed first begins as the Card Tsar and plays a Black Card”

Box Cards
Black and White Cards – So many possibilities!

That’s right boys and girls, this simple statement gives the idea of the tone this game will have, but I’m sure you can find other ways to decide who begins the game.  Moving on, the Card Tsar then reads out the text on the Black Card, the other players must then answer/fill in the blanks by passing the Card Tsar one of their White Cards face down.  These answers are then shuffled by the Card Tsar, once this is done he/she must then read out each card combination with the whole group, preferably premising it with the text on the Black Card each time.  I hope you followed that all the way through, it’s a lot simpler than it sounds trust me!

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Scoring

 Whichever combination the Card Tsar finds the most humorous is the winner and wins one Awesome Point, I usually measure this by awarding them the Black Card of that round. A new Card Tsar is then chosen and all players draw back up to ten cards. So where does the game end? That’s up to you to decide! Believe it or not this game is actually designed for the players to make up their own rules and to remix the game to how the see fit.  So you could decide that the first player to get 10 Awesome Points is crowned the Court Jester and wins the round, or maybe your cruel streak creeps into the game and those who are not victorious must carry out a forfeit while the winner looks on smugly. The choice is yours!

Final Thoughts

Personally I think the game is a great way to spend an hour or so with your friends, trying to make each other laugh and in some cases shocked. Admittedly if you are sensitive towards politically incorrect jokes, this game is probably not for you. I love that it has been created by a group of mates and then developed through peer-to-peer support schemes.  The fact that the designers also factored in the choice for players to remix and change the game to how they see fit is frankly awesome. So if you’re in the market for a new card game, specifically one that will make you chuckle and show off your naughty side, I suggest Cards Against Humanity!

Thanks for taking the time to read through this Gaming Spotlight, I’m going to try and post a bit more regularly as I’ve been a bit all over the place lately.  If you have any suggestions of games I might like or in fact anything to do with blogging (I’m still a newbie) then please feel free to comment.

Alright catch you later,

Iain

Gaming Spotlight – Papers, Please

Everybody who’s ever travelled abroad has come across the necessary evil that is Border Control! That’s right the endless queuing, holding tightly onto all your important documents, and hoping you haven’t forgotten anything in fear of the dreaded strip search!  If you were hoping for a game that challenges you to sneak through this hall of scrutiny, then I’m afraid Papers, Please is not the game for you. Instead, this fantastic independently created game puts you in the position of a Border Control Operator, that’s right it is your job to check and examine all the people trying to enter your country.  What country is that? The glorious, communist, country of Arstotzka.

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Papers, Please is the creation Lucas Pope (@dukope), and was originally submitted to Steam Greenlight (a branch of Valve’s Steam distribution platform designed specifically to promote and develop Indie games) on 11th April 2013.  After a huge celebrated welcome and community support the game was greenlit on 1st May 2013, giving Pope the opportunity to complete the game fully and release it to a wider audience.

Grim yet affecting, it’s a game that may change your attitude the next time you’re in line at the airport.

(Simon Parkin writing for The New Yorker)

The gameplay of Papers, Please has the player inspect arrivals’ documents as they reach the Border Control Booth.  At the start of each day you will be given a short briefing, this will include rules for admission.  As the game goes on more and more rules will be added and omitted, it is down to you to remember these rules and who you will be allowing into the country. Using a varied range of tools (questioning, fingerprinting, full body scans) you must determine whether their papers are in order.  If they aren’t, the player must then choose whether to have the applicant arrested, or simply deny them entry.  This all seems pretty straight forward, until your morals as a human being are brought into question.  As you progress through the game you will be faced with a number of moral dilemmas, such as allowing the wife of an immigrant through despite her lacking complete papers, or accepting bribes to allow a wanted criminal through the border.  At the end of the day your performance is evaluated and you are awarded a pay-check, this is where the game adds further moral choices for the player.  You must then decide how to spend your hard-earned money; on rent, food, heat, and other necessities in low-class housing for your family and yourself.  Will you put the safety and well being of your family before the security of the country, or do you focus on protecting your glorious country regardless of the consequences?

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The game has a wonderfully designed graphic style which personally I fell in love with straight away, it suits the overall feeling and theme of the game perfectly. This coupled with the fantastic music, range of interesting characters, and the fact that there are twenty different endings depending on your choices made, make the game a joy to play.

Gaming Spotlight – Defence of the Ancients 2 (aka DOTA 2)

So for my first Gaming Spotlight I’m actually going to start with a recent favourite of mine, Defence of the Ancients 2 (or has it has become lovingly condensed to, as these things often are, DOTA 2). The amazing development team Valve created DOTA 2,  these guys were the genius’ behind such game series as Left 4 Dead, Half-Life, and Portal. They are also the development team behind the now widely used Steam distribution platform.

Valve Games

Now before I begin, are you all sitting comfortably? As with building a house, foundations must be laid first before a solid understanding can be made. In this case it’s the getting to grips with the type of game DOTA 2 is; At its core DOTA 2 is a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (guess what kids…. Yep that’s right here comes another abbreviation – it’s a MOBA).  The idea behind this sub-genre of game is to have two teams of players, aided by computer controlled units, destroy their opponents main ‘base’ structure.  The map is often designed with three pre-made paths, referred to as “lanes”, which lead to each base. Along these lanes are strategically placed automated towers that the players must destroy and advance past.

Map_of_MOBA
Generic layout for a MOBA map

In the case of DOTA 2, the teams are made up of 5 players each controlling a single hero unit.  These heroes come in lots of different shapes and sizes, ranging from the sleek, cold-hearted ‘Drow Archer’, to the gruesome and menacing ‘Pudge’.  Each player’s hero comes with a pre-designed set of unique abilities that they can use to destroy their enemies and claim victory.  The abilities often take the form of four base abilities (which can be tuned up with each new level achieved) and a fifth more powerful one, often referred their ‘Ultimate/Ulti’. The selection of teams individual heroes, and their ability to use said hero as part of a team, is a vital part in becoming victorious.  DOTA 2 requires a large amount of teamwork from all those involved, whether that be defending your lane against the advancing enemy or summoning the whole team to attack a single player (known as ‘ganking’).

DOTA 2 Characters: Drow Archer // Pudge
DOTA 2 Characters: Drow Archer // Pudge

I can appreciate that this kind of game may not be to everyone’s tastes, and I’ll be honest with you, the game does have quite a steep learning curve.  With that said, I have really enjoyed getting to grips with both the controls and understanding how each individual hero can be used to achieve the most deadly/effective warrior.  My final conclusion to DOTA 2 would be this; if you’re a fan of Real Time Strategy (aka RTS games… had to squeeze in another few abbreviations before I signed off) and not afraid to spend a little time learning the ropes DOTA 2 is worth having a look at.  Also the game is completely free, okay I may be leading you astray there, with the exception of a few OPTIONAL in-game payments (for the most part these unlock purely customisation options for your heroes), the game is free to play.  How can you argue you with that?

Catch you later gamers and gamerettes,

Iain x