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A bit more than a year ago, I had the pleasure of reviewing Endangered Orphans of Condoyle Cove, the freshman project of Certifiable Studios, a then unheard of gaming company based in Ridgeland, Mississippi. Their project quickly picked up a lot of steam on Kickstarter for its' creative marketing tactics and dark humor, not to mention the fantastic art! The final product of Endangered Orphans gave us a delightful (though slightly disturbing) take-that styled game that was tons of fun to play and still hits my gaming table quite often. Since then, the humble studios met HUGE success in creating Who Goes There?, a semi-cooperative game with a betrayal element based on the novelette that inspired John Carpenter's The Thing. Now, Certifiable Studios has been funding it's third* project, showing yet again that they are extremely diverse in their offerings with a dice-rolling, team management drafting game called Stuffed.
*Stuffed is the third Kickstarter project although Sugar Ponies probably counts as Certifiable's third actual game.(Do we count that one, guys?)
Stuffed once again turns players against each other in competition, though there is a lot less take-that involved than there was in their first project. 2-4 players go head to head to be the first to complete the mission assigned at the start of the game. To accomplish a mission, you must first acquire a certain number of teammates from two varying pools, Loyals who stick with you through the end once acquired, and Mercenaries who must be hired by coin and who will gladly go to the next buyer. There are enough of these teammates to allow everyone to have up to two each, but you cannot have more than two of any one type. Upon acquiring the required number and type of teammates, players must complete the mission by rolling the symbols on the mission card from a pool of 8 D6 dice. The good news is that the teammates you acquire help you to influence your roll in various ways that make completing your mission a little bit easier.
Each player starts the game by selecting one of four included characters, beautifully illustrated by Certifiable's talented artist, Jesse Labbe. Each of these characters have an ability noted on the bottom of the card allowing them to reroll any of their dice at the expensive of spending one die of Charisma. Charisma is symbolized as a paw print on two faces of the D6 die. The other 4 die faces are for the attributes of Intelligence (a Gear or Cog), Essence (a Vial), Resources (a Plant), and Birdens (a Bird). On a player's turn, they must first roll all 8 die and then resolve them based on what they'd like to accomplish. To acquire a Loyal, players must match 6 specific symbols on the die to the Loyal card they wish to acquire. To acquire a Mercenary, players only need 4 symbols, but they must have 2 coins to use to pay for their services. If a player rolls three of a kind, they can spend those die to acquire a single coin. Four of a kind allow them to acquire an Advantage Card. The only die face that can not be utilized in such a manner is a Birden, as they are literally meant to be burdens and are generally meant to hinder your efforts (though teammates and missions will sometimes utilize them). Advantage Cards are a nice addition to the game allowing you to do things like manipulate die rolls, sabotage the efforts of other players, and even obtain coins, cards, or teammates a bit easier! A player can also spend two coins to buy an Advantage Card, but unless otherwise noted, you can only have 4 Advantage Cards in your hand at a time.
Although Stuffed seems somewhat simplistic and repetitive in that you are rolling and resolving dice to acquire teammates and then rolling and resolving to complete the mission, the game derives a lot of its flavor in the variety of things presented. The teammates one can acquire are really awesome looking and thematic, but they also have their own abilities that might utilize different attributes on your dice to help you accomplish things. A certain level of strategy is formed then by how you choose to resolve your rolls and what you are aiming for on your particular turn. Spend too many die utilizing abilities and acquiring extra resources, and you might find yourself with too few die to gain a character or resolve a mission. There is also not simply one set mission in the game, but the game includes a small selection of missions that give you a few unique ways to play as far as what is needed to win. I also think the idea behind the story and theme is interesting. The world presented in Stuffed is basically a "limbo" of sorts where souls are penalized and sewn into doll-like creatures forced to make amends for the thing that they failed to achieve in their life. Your team, your mission, your soul, It all hangs by a thread...
Stuffed fits very well into the other offerings that Certifiable Studios has come up with in it's impressive line up of games thus far. It has a charm and uniqueness fans have come to expect from the studio, yet it is diverse enough to give gamers a completely new style of gameplay than the previous two projects. It is a light game, more on par with their original project than Who Goes There?, but we've already put it on the table multiple times, and it has proven to be a fun game practically all who have tried it. Although there is certainly a level of luck included in most any dice game, your abilities help you to resolve your turn in a number of ways leaving almost no turn wasted. Acquiring that perfect team that helps you influence your die even more feels awesome, and there are very few members who feel worthless or unwanted. WYLD Gaming gives Stuffed TWO HOOVES UP as a delightful and fast-paced dice-drafting card game. Learn more about the project yourself as it enters it's last 48 hours! You can reserve your own copy (and even a few Stuffed Birdens if you so desire) here: http://kck.st/2yg7h3N
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!