My Secret Santa, who must surely love me very much, sent me this game as one of my Christmas presents. Some of you might be wondering why I would put this game on my wishlist, but people who know me will understand why this game was my absolute top choice.
I was under the impression that this game had been distributed only in limited quantities at a convention several years ago, so I was actually very surprised to receive it. Apparently, my Secret Santa is much smarter than me and actually took the time to search for it and found it for sale at the publisher's website http://allegedenterprises.com
The game taps into the apparently lucrative market of “games for bored RPG players waiting for the real game to start”. In the manner of the Tenacious D song “Tribute”, which is a song about another song, This Game Sucks is actually a game about another game. But unlike the Tenacious D song, which is a tribute to “The Greatest Song in the World”, This Game Sucks is about a game that really sucks. I think “Tribute” is actually a pretty good song. Is there a similar correlation between This Game Sucks and the sucky game it describes?
The game is produced and packaged “cheapass-style”. Packed in the white envelope are some low-quality cards in two different colors and an 8.5 X 11-inch cardstock “board” cut into four pieces. Except for the color logo on the envelope, all printing is monochromatic. Players must supply 1D6 and 1D4 and a bunch of tokens. This is all acceptable to me, since the MSRP of the game is only $7.
The board represents “The Table” at which “The Sucky Game” is being played. One space represents “The GM” and the other six spaces represent “The Gamers”. There are two types of cards: Gamer Cards and Action Cards. The Gamer Cards each describe a stereotypical RPG player, and some have effects on other Gamer Cards that might also be in play. The Action Cards are divided into various types, such as Provisions, Rules, or Interpersonal. (These terms refer to “The Sucky Game”, not the game you are playing, if you understand what I mean.)
Six Gamer Cards are randomly distributed in the numbered spaces around the “Table”. Tokens are used to track each Gamer's “Interest Level” and the “GM's Ego”. The D4 is used to determine the GM's “Density Level” before play starts.
The object of the game is to end “The Sucky Game” by being the player who, by card-play, either
a) Lowers the GM's Ego to 0, or
b) Eliminates the Gamer that reduces the number of remaining Gamers to the GM's Density Level.
Gameplay is fairly basis. On each player's turn, a D6 is rolled to determine which “Gamer” will be affected by cardplay. The player then plays cards in an attempt to lower that Gamer's Interest Level or the GM's Ego. Then, in turn, each player can then play a “response” to the card that was played. The responses must be of the same type as the originally played card. This mechanic prevents every player from playing a response to every card. If, after all responses, a Gamer's Interest is at 0, that Gamer is eliminated.
If there is any strategy to The Game Sucks, it is in trying not to set up the next player for the win. There is no benefit to eliminating any Gamer but the last, so don't eliminate the second-to-last. Unless, ironically, you are trying to end This Game Sucks.
The rules are actually fairly well-written, and the die-roll technique and card-type tagging adds a few twists to the fairly obvious system. The true value of the game is in the humorous card text. Players are expected to recognize their friends in the descriptions of “The Gamers” and recall situations similar to those described on the Action Cards.
The game is probably good for a few laughs among RPG players. I can't imagine there will be much replay value after all the cards have been seen. But wait...
As an added bonus, my Secret Santa also sent me “The Wrong”, an expansion for This Game Sucks which adds more cards of each type! Thanks, Santa!
Thanks for an entertaining review of an unreviewed small press game. I had a look at their website, they have some interesting games. And there's even a second expansion for this one!