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Subject: The Shooting Party: playing cards have never been so fun rss

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Andrew J.
United States
Missouri
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The Shooting Party is a 2016 release by John Kean for the 2016 PNP design contest (click here for more details). This game won best in all four categories it was entered in, and took home second-best overall in the entire competition. This game caught my eye when I was trawling the forums as there's a Jane Austen theme, yet the game plays with a standard deck of cards. How could a short, solo, card-based game do so well? Read on for more!


(I first tried the Shooting Party with Boba Fett playing cards, which is when I realized how much the custom cards add to the game)

In The Shooting Party, you play the role of a young rascal who is attending a high society party, populated by the characters of four Jane Austen novels (Emma, S&S, P&P, and Persuasion). Your goal is to get all four heroines alone in the room with you so that you may seduce them -- and steal their jewels in the process! Will you seduce all four and steal all four jewels, earning the title of Filthy Scoundrel? Or will you fail miserably, ending as a Common Cad, or worse, unsuccessful altogether? Let's find out in The Shooting Party.


How to Play
So this game can in fact be played with a standard deck of cards, though the PNP cards with the character illustrations are a really nice touch, and what originally drew me to the game. In short, you are trying to discard cards from your hand through various rules, leaving only one queen in your hand, which is the lady you will seduce. You will work through your deck three times, trying to get all four queens in the end.

Additionally, the Aces count as gems, and are set aside face up as soon as you draw them. If you have a Queen alone in your hand AND her Ace is out already, you get to place both cards into your scoring pile. Your aim is to get all four aces and all four queens into your scoring pile: a perfect game.

So how do you discard cards from your hand? Simple. You can discard two cards of the same suit, and two or more cards of the same rank. But there are a couple of rules to trip you up! First off, the Kings (male protagonists) are intensely jealous of their wives, and if you have a King and a Queen of the same suit in your hand, they are discarded. The only way you can sidestep this is by discarding the King with his equivalent Jack -- the king becomes busy with his private secretary and doesn't notice your designs on his wife.

But the Jacks are problematic on their own -- put two of them in the hand and they take up all the space, forcing you to discard your entire hand immediately. Those nosy private secretaries can be helpful, but they're always annoying.


(Yes, all the rules fit in this tiny 12-page booklet)

There's a few other wrinkles to the rules, but overall that's the entire game: try to discard cards, get the queen alone with you in the room, and make off with her diamonds. It's delightfully simple to play and yet very challenging to win -- in 9 tries I've only managed a perfect score once. That, to me, is about the perfect ratio of difficulty for a solo game like this.


(Making the game deck)

Impressions
It's incredibly impressive that John has worked out a thematic game like this out of a deck of cards. The character illustrations go a long way towards this, and you really feel as if you're wheeling and dealing, trying to get Miss Wodehouse alone with you in the room. That diamond necklace is so enticing... -- the whole concept of social maneuvering and intrigue is VERY fitting with Jane Austen's books, and as a guy who's a huge fan, this game fills a thematic niche I didn't know I needed in my collection.

Secondly, this game is very accessible. It's easy to print and play 52 cards (really it's less, since the game doesn't use any of the 6-10s in the deck). Not only that, it's super quick to learn and play, so you can get even 2-3 plays in on a normal lunch break.

The Shooting Party is a fantastic game with few drawbacks. I'm not sure the longevity of the game: maybe I'll eventually get to beat it regularly, but I can safely say I'm not there yet, and if you're expecting a free printable PNP to provide you with more than 50-60 plays, you may be asking too much of free printable PNPs. The Shooting Party is a knockout hit and I absolutely love it. Big thumbs up from me!


Gameplay
.. Abstract --♦-------- Thematic
....... Luck ---♦------- Skill
.... Simple ♦---------- Complex
. Strategic ---♦------- Tactical
... Friendly ♦---------- Cutthroat

Other
Graphic Design/Components: 5/5
Insert: NA/5
Rules Clarity: 5/5

Overall: 4/5

tl;dr: This game is free, it's fun, it's quick to play, and beautiful and thematic to boot. Why wouldn't you want to print it out?
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JK
New Zealand
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Re: The first review for a fine solo game
Thanks for the glowing review Andrew.

Another fantastic standard deck card game from the same competition is The Bogey. It works particularly well with the Austen deck as another etiquette based romp in Jane Austen's universe. See this post. I really recommend this game.
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Andrew J.
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Re: The first review for a fine solo game
I'll give it a whirl, thanks!
 
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