Reviews by Chris Knight (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Published by Slag Blah Entertainment
2-8 (or more) players
According to rumor (actually, the home page at www.xxxenophile.com) this card game is the brainchild of Phil Foglio, who also writes a comic book by the same name. He thought it would be nice to come out with a game that broke all of the CCG rules ("ye with the most money invested, wins" primarily) and hence xXxenophile the card game was born.
You can find more information about the cards and the history by checkin' out the web page.
The object of xXxenophile is, of course, to win. To win, a player must be able to "pop" or remove 100 points worth of cards (or more) from a playing field in which both players place cards.
Initially, each player contributes an equal share of the 12 cards needed to start out the playing field. Other layouts are also possible, in fact required for 3-player games. These cards are shuffled and placed face-down on the table.
Each player, on their turn, turns over a card if there are any to be turned over, and rotates a card 180-degrees.
On all four sides of every card are one or more symbols, one symbol per side (for example, on one card there might be 5 blue yin-yangs on the top, three red hearts on the left side, 2 purple locks on the right side, and 4 green leaves on the bottom.)
If any side has a matching shape with a neighboring card, the card with the higher number of symbols on the matching face is popped.
To add to the fun, on all of the cards are special rules. Some of the cards' rules are in effect while the card is on the table face-up, others are active when they are popped, and still others are active after being popped. Many of the cards allow you to pop other cards on the table and other, more strange activities. (Including removing articles of clothing, for those more risque evenings of gaming.)
After someone has reached 100 points, players pop a remaining card (and follow some of the rules on the cards) until all of the cards are gone.
Needless to say, cards exchange hands frequently in xXxenophile. It would be a strange game if you and your opponents didn't end up with entirely different decks by the end of a single game. A nice consolation is the trouble you'd have to go through to lose very many cards, as the person who pops a card has to replace it with a card from their hand (which in turn comes from their deck.)
xXxenophile is easy to learn, has a moderate level of strategy balanced with some luck, and is one of the least expensive collectable card games out there (even if you're trying to collect a complete set of cards, since the cards are all rares.)
Buy a pack and a few boosters and play for keeps, it's worth your time. The cards are worth it for the humor value alone. And be prepared to be shocked! (The card art is R-rated.)
As a side note: Wet Blanket, Santa Claus, and Mysterious Dr. Pushtak are my personal favorite cards.
[Ken: I asked Chris if he felt the following games were novelty items or if he thought they were genuine sleepers a la WizWar. Chris definitely believes all three are sleepers. They all have wonderfully rich gameplay with Dr. Lucky being the most complex and strategic.]
Published by Cheapass Games
Dr. Lucky is a game where you move around a mansion trying to knock off Dr. Lucky. Dr. Lucky wanders the halls in a predetermined pattern (rooms are numbered) and the fun is in the cards (with which you can move yourself or Dr. Lucky, or try to make a murder attempt, or foil other people's murder attempts.) To add confusion to the game, whoever's in the room when Dr. Lucky makes his appearance goes next (and it's possible to "follow" Dr. Lucky through parts of the mansion.) Oh yeah: murders can't be done if anyone else is in line-of-sight.
Kill Doctor Lucky comes packaged in an envelope with basic cardboard, monochrome cards.
Published by Cheapass Games
2-6 (or more) players
Mr. Bond is a simple card game where you are an evil spy trying to lure and knock off the good spies in the world. To do this, players play lair cards to make their lair enticing, and then play spies into their lair. Players have the option of playing a "doubler" on their spy (such as telling the spy how they'd like to kill him/her) and other players can play the same doubler to foil the attempts at killing the spy. The fun is in the fact that players can pull spies out of other player's hands or off the top of the deck if there's one there (they're different color cards) and play them blindly into anyone's lair...with the risk of blowing up your lair if they're too powerful for their lair or risk giving an opponent a valuable spy. 'course, they have Mr. Bond (I think 007 is copyrighted so they never reference his number... just his name.)
Mr. Bond comes packaged in an envelope with basic cardboard, monochrome cards.
Published by Rhino Ventures (email@example.com)
2-8 (or more) players
Golem is a golem-building game where cards representing bodyparts are assembled on a slab until they make a functioning golem which goes on a rampage (and attacks other active golems or is beaten up by the townspeople.)
Golem comes in a ziplock bag with glossy cardstock, monochrome cards.
The Game Cabinet - firstname.lastname@example.org - Ken Tidwell