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It's getting to be that time of the year--big holidays, lots of food, lots of family, and hopefully a chance to break out some board games and introduce others to your epic hobby, but where do you start, and who do you actually want sitting around the table with you?
What about little Timmy? He's never smiling, always seems kind of angry, he really looks like he's up to no good, and he sure ends up with a lot of mysteriously missing pets... Gaming could cheer him up! But do you really want to risk making him mad by beating him? How about Uncle Monroe? Sure he likes to wear dresses and stand above the heater vent while he's over. Some like it hot, and some like to chill at the table and play games. I guess he's probably not the latter of the two. There's always Granny Chen! She's really good at charades for some reason, but actual verbal communication isn't really her strong point. Would Baby Ruth be able to handle a round of Apples to Apples without making Apple Sauce? There's the family poodle. Art would have you believe dogs can play poker, but this dog only plays dead. I guess there's Roman and Uncle JT, but would anyone really want to spend more time with them than they'd have to?
In fact, now that you've really pondered it, you've got quite the odd family. Maybe they're not the most picturesque, the most functional, or even the friendliest family on the block, but you'd put them against those other families any day of the week because they're special, and together, you make quite the team! And then, when it comes to games like Family Plot by White Cherry Games, you can throw teamwork out the window and show little Timmy that you can be cut throat too!
Family Plot is a strategic card game where each player is given a secret family composed of 7 members of varying types. They could be any number or combination of grandfathers, grandmothers, fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, babies, or even pets! Each player's objective is to then put into play each of these family members and reveal their family tree to confirm the win.
To aid in assembling your family cast, you can use modifier cards such as the Fountain of Youth and Father Time, Twin cards and Dopplegangers that duplicate one member into two of the same type, and even Sex Change cards to make that Uncle that you don't need into an Aunt. To make matters more challenging, some family members have actions when played that affect others such as Mama Cita who is a mother character who steals one adult male from another player's family or Uncle Josh who kidnaps one brother, sister, or baby from someone. Aside from these included actions, there are also Action Cards that allow players to do things like dig up and reanimate family members from the discard pile (lovingly titled The Graveyard), Foodfight cards that counter Actions (and each other), Reaper cards that allow a player to wipe out another player's entire family and force them to start from scratch, Angels to ward off the Reapers and protect families, and a one-of-a-kind counter-everything card of Unicorn Tears to use as you wish.
Each player begins with five cards in hand and goes through four play phases on their turn. Your first choice is to put any number of family members you need into play along with any modifiers you choose to add. Secondly, you can play either one Action or one Reaper card against other players if desired. Your third choice is to discard 1 to 2 cards from your hand into the Graveyard. Lastly, you MUST draw back up to five cards in your hand. Foodfight cards, Angels, and Unicorn Tears can be played by any player at any time. What follows is a game of family building and destroying that, depending on the sportsmanship of the family you are playing with, will lead to more family building or destroying. But regardless of hard feelings from a few unsavory characters (we're looking at you Timmy), one feeling that is guaranteed by all while playing this game is absolute FUN.
Family Plot is an extremely easy game to teach to non-gamers and a great and fun filler game for more hardcore gamers. In my playthrough, it was played with three other family members of varying ages. A minor word of caution is that a few of the cards contain some adult innuendo (we're looking at you JT and Roman... and that Granny gone wild... and Darth Poodle, kind of.. and you Kickstarter backers that are voting for that specific Grandmother card right now. Shame.). Younger kids may not understand what these cards are alluding to, but some of your older children may have questions you're not ready to answer as might your good ole naive mother or grandmother. I don't believe there has been a published age suggestion by White Cherry Games yet, but our suggestion is probably 13+ or so.
As far as overall enjoyment, we give this game a 10 as it was a true treat to play absolutely full of laughter and fun and surprise moments! Every card contains a short description that kind of gives you an impression of the individual family members which is somewhat entertaining and somewhat disturbing at times, but it's important to note that this isn't a story based game at all, so until we retool or perhaps even scrap our current scoring guide altogether, we'll grant this one a 6 for the variability and clever pop culture puns! It gets an 8 for replayability due to the huge amount of cards and individual family trees included in the base game and for those epic moments that make it diversely different each playthrough. It's also one of those games that always remain fun even if you've seen everything physically that there is to offer. The rules and mechanics are brilliant, hilarious, and gleefully ruthless and qualify for a very easy 10. Many special actions can lead you to take family members you don't even need from others and then gloat as you alert the player you repossessed them from that you're discarding them into the graveyard. There were also some pretty hardcore food fights in my play tests where one player countered an action with a Foodfight and had their Foodfight countered by another and so on. Even non-affected players at the table got invested in the fate of others by contributing their own cards. Not knowing when another player may have an Angel to counter your Reaper or even Unicorn Tears to counter your Angel card adds for some tension and thought prior to your backstabbing selections. This is a game where bluffing and even some thought to hand management (risking saving some cards you could use at the moment to play at a time later when they'd be even more useful) comes in very beneficial! All in all, it's another deservedly delightful 8.5 from WYLD Gaming.
The final product of Family Plot plans to make the already gorgeous cards even better by upgrading them to black core, and a newly reached stretch goal is giving backers a decorative cemetery themed game mat on which to place their draw pile, action discard pile, and grave pile! If you back them on Kickstarter, you have the option to bundle in some snazzy add-ons and merchandise, and there are currently a couple of stretch goals aiming for an upgraded box and a whole new alien themed family consisting of 10 new cards! There are also more unlisted stretch goals to be revealed, and it is very much worth noting that if you have any ideas for some creative family members to be included in the final game, the creators are letting backers come up with and vote on a whole family as part of their campaign! A new (though deceased) pet cat in an urn called Fireball and an uncle based off of the film series character Ernest P. Worrell were voted on already and a vote is going today for a grandmother and grandfather character. You can contribute to this campaign and reserve this hilarious game for yourself here!
Please note, this is a review of a game that is in pre-production meaning some mechanics, appearances, rules, and other components may change. WYLD Gaming was provided this copy for review purposes but was not otherwise compensated in any manner, nor were their words, results, or review scores influenced in any way by anyone outside of the author's own opinions and perspective. If you've enjoyed this review, we encourage you to share it with others to help WYLD Gaming get similar opportunities in the future while also helping the game being reviewed get more attention for their Kickstarter campaign. Thank you!
Aaron JD Sturgill
t looks like a great game, I have backed it already!!