Limited Access - Wellycon XI - Back 5th June 2018
I was surprised there wasn't an actual review of this card game yet. The session reports and the description on the main page do a good job of telling you about the basics of the game. I've played 4 games and don't own it, so forgive any inaccuracies. What I hope I can do is tell you what I think is good about this game, and what is less good, and whether you should buy it...
The good: Who Stole Ed's Pants? comes in a neat sized box with good blurb and presentation on the outside. The slightly off-beat hyperbolic theme got my attention. It's nice after playing games of interstellar conquest and colonisation to play a game about a small crime which the victim doesn't even care about. If that gets your interest rather than making you think... why should I bother? then this is the game for you! Carrying on from this whimsical theme are the Evidence cards and Groups of Neighbours, which still raise a smile after a few games. The combinations of evidence, once they pile up on the players can be quite amusing if you get into the spirit of the thing. This amusing, non-fantasy theme may help Ed's Pants get more interest from non-gamers.
The cards are of good enough quality, and the pictures are amusing and easy to read. It's good to see the scoring stones being included in the game.
game example You get What evidence of "clown boots", "pirate's eyepatch" and "pirate's parrot" played on you. This usually gets a laugh from the incongruity of the outfit, and then when the What fact is changed to "a pirate was seen leaving the scene of the crime" then you have two pieces of evidence against you. As you try to change the Facts, or plant evidence on others, they will be trying to change it back to a "pirate" or "clown" fact to keep you as number one suspect.
Although your hand of cards is limited, you do have a few options, listed below in reverse order of ease.
You can change the Facts (if your witnesses are "reliable enough");
you can plant some Evidence on other people (if your witnesses are more reliable than theirs);
you can move the quality of the witnesses up or down to make your witnesses more reliable, and other people's less so (this probably happens the most);
or you can discard a card if all else fails.
You then pick up a new card to make up a hand. As the cards are in Who, When and What groups you have some control over the type of card you can pick up. You can end the round if ahead or to limit damage by running down the shortest deck. So there is some strategy under the kooky theme.
There is a good feeling of desparation as the deck runs out and you are trying wildly to incriminate someone or change the facts.
The Bad:Well, the theme may not be for you. All players do not start with an equal position, as the cards you draw, and the starting facts may be much more beneficial for someone else. Perhaps a Ra style fixed starting position for each player, or a random ending to the round would help this. Over multiple rounds and games things should even out, but you may play a game and feel you had no chance from the start.
Sometimes in a game it feels like you can't improve your hand round after round, and that you have no meaningful move. This is probably the biggest problem I have with the game, but there may be options to move the reliability of witnesses bit by bit. This is probably a way of saying that there is luck in this game and the "best player" may not always win every time.
Summary: So, do I recommend Ed's Pants? I can't see myself ever buying Ed's Pants myself, as one of the people I'd play it with already owns it. If I had to play a card game of an hour I would choose San Juan for a smaller number/ more gaming friends, and Bohnanza for a larger number/ more casual friends over this game. The game does succeed in spite of some of its mechanics. Ed's Pants is fun with the right people in the right mood, and is a well-packaged game at a fair price.