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Subject: Its more fun in real life rss

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Tom Hancock
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Yes, beating up kids and taking their lunch money is more fun in real life than in this game. Lunch Money has a lot of potential, but stumbles a bit in the execution. Lunch Money is a game where two schoolyard girls battle it out for each other's cash. The game tries to be a light filler fighting card game, but it is bogged down by its own rules snafus and design flaws. However, some groups will love it anyway.

The gameplay is fun, but it needlessly rewards defensive play at times, and the components have some issues. This game is a filler, not something you are going to play for its own sake. However, there is an exception to that statement-- certain groups can get a lot of mileage out of this game.

1.) Components: The cards and art in this game are beautiful and the quotes on them are very nice. The rulebook is a sheet of paper, with fairly small print. Although the game requires 15 life tokens for each player, none are included in the game. I guess this was done so that they could sell it in a card box format, but having to locate 30 pennies or carrying poker chips with you tends to hurt the portability of the game. Some kind of paper markers that fit in the card box would have been welcome.

Perhaps two cards that sit on top of each other, and you move one up and down a numerical scale on the other? That would have helped. Also, the cards, while beautiful and funny, don't have any of the special rules on them. For instance, the card grab has about 3 paragraphs of special rules on it. Often, I'll see someone pick up the rules and I'll say "drew a grab, huh?" This is very annoying and takes away from gameplay. The special rules should have been printed on the cards as well as in the book.

2.) Rules: Besides the issues above with the rules, the rules seem overy complicated for what they seem to accomplish. You can grab after a block but not a dodge and follow the grab with any maneuver. Grabs can normally be dodged but not blocked but if they follow a block they can only be freedom'd, not dodged. I'm not sure if thats correct but the rules for this game are full of stuff like that. The complexity of these interactions is what makes the game interesting from a gamer's point of view, but it also makes the game a little bit inaccessible to new players and non-gamers who can't keep track of this sort of whacky interactions. The whole block-grab-powerplay thing is a mess.

To top it off, the rules aren't very clear about anything, they are poorly written. In addition, many of the special cards with special rules just aren't that effective. Why would I stop to read a half page of text just to get a 3 damage move that can be stopped 3 out of 4 ways, when I've got a regular move worth 4 damage that can be stopped 4 out of 4 ways? Screw it, I'll throw the regular move. The rules in this game really need cleaned up and thought over again. Did I mention they aren't on the cards and you have to read the rules sheet nearly every time you draw a special card?

On the other hand, a few of the special cards really feel right and their special rules are simple enough. For example, spinning backfist functions as a normal move except if you dodge it, whereupon it goes to the next player to your left who must try to dodge or block it.

The rules for more than two players lead to a lot of "beat up the weakling" tactics. While this models the theme of the game very well, it isn't a whole lot of fun for anyone. Oh, you don't have any dodge cards, I can tell because Mike hit you? I'll hit you too then. Not fun!

The complexity isn't bad but the rules are hard to remember, causing constant references to the rules sheet.


3.) Theme: The theme of the game, as mentioned in my introduction, is great. This theme is modeled fairly well by the special cards, as you can imagine little girls grabbing, throwing, choking, headlocks, all of that, and the mechanics model them fairly well. Of course, many of these special cards don't get played because their effects are not that good or they are just not worth the trouble of trying to reread the rules or explain to the new person what is happening to them. The theme is a lot of fun though, especially with the right group.

4.) Humiliation: I originally thought this was one of the niftiest cards in the game, but after just one or two plays I realized that it was so incredibly overpowered that simply discarding your hand every turn in a hope to draw humiliation is actually a viable strategy to win the game. Humiliation reverses any card (even a defensive card) and allows you to play an unstoppable move afterward. The only thing that can stop a humiliation is another humiliation. Many games of lunch money are decided by who draws this the most, the earliest, or who uses it at the right time. Simply dumping your hand and hunting until you get enough humiliations/big moves to kill someone is a viable strategy. While this card is a lot of fun to play, it really ruins the game.

5.) Luck: This game is heavily luck based. If you get a starting hand with a humiliation in it, or a lot of defensive cards and a weapon, or somehow luck out and get one of the oddball special card combos, it can be a fast game. Otherwise, the luck balances itself out as the game goes on because so commonly players discard cards trying to ensure that they have a defense card in their hand or in a "fishing for humiliation" tactic. Sure, the cards can screw you, as in any card game, but aside from a few situations, this game isn't any worse for luck problems than any other card game.

6.) FUN: Who would like this game? Its too light and fiddly for most gamers, and its too unbalanced and rulesy for non-gamers. Its a filler game that takes a while to learn, and once you really learn it, the flaws are so obvious that you don't want to play it anymore.

However, I wholeheartedly recommend Lunch Money to one particular type of gaming group. Trashtalkers. Roleplayers. Close friends who like to rib each other a little bit. We had a variant for this game when I was in college that we played the hell out of. It had only two special rules.

First, you had to describe, trash talk, or roleplay out every move that you made. For example, if I wanted to play a kick on my friend Mike, I would say "I run up to Mike, pull his schoolgirl skirt over his head, and plant my foot in his care bears panties." To which Mike would play dodge and respond "When you pull my skirt up and try to kick me, I grab your foot and bite your toe."

Our second house rule involved pimp slap. Pimp slap was just a basic 1 damage card, but our house rule was that it did 5 damage for every card titled humiliation or pimp slap already on the table that turn. Most of the time, this just resulted in a humiliation-pimp slap combo for 5 unstoppable damage. Once in a while, it resulted in nasty instant death combos. I attack, you humiliate, I humilate back, I pimp slap for 10, you die. It also lead to excellent narrations based on variant rule 1.

******Conclusion*******
So, in closing, I would not recommend this game to anyone, unless you have a silly gaming group that likes to talk trash to each other. Its great for RPG downtime for groups like that but I would
not really consider this game for anyone else or any other group of gamers. They might enjoy it for a couple games after the inital rules learning phase and before they realize its an almost totally broken game, but I doubt it.

Pimp Slap!!!!


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Philip Thomas
United Kingdom
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Tom, are you really a Catholic schoolgirl?
 
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Tom Hancock
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Yeah: Can't you tell? We love to play Busen Memo with sister eva.
 
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Stephen Williams
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I think you may have been playing wrong.

Humiliation does not reverse the damage. It merely stops your opponent's card. Then you get a free basic attack, which will probably be from 1-4 pts of damage, assuming you even have an attack card. This is a strong card that often "saves the day," but it doesn't unbalance the game.

If someone is repeatedly discarding all his cards to hunt for humiliation cards, good luck. There's only 4 Humiliation cards in the 110-card deck. Plus, since he's not attacking anyone, the other players should just start slapping attack cards on him.

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