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Penny Arcade: Paint The Line ECG – Red Tide» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Paint the Line Quick Review rss

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David P
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Quick "off the top of my head" review of the game, since this board was empty and sad looking.

Paint the Line (PTL) is an "expandable card game" (ECG) based around the mechanics of playing table tennis (ping pong). The staff of Penny Arcade got into ping pong and created a series of strips about the game:

Eventually they decided to make a card based game that simulated the ping pong mechanic set in their fictionalized over-the-top universe.

Quick Mechanics:
PTL is a 2 player game where each player has a 59 card deck and a coach. There are three main card types: Shots, Stamina, and Special Cards. The first player "serves" the ball to their opponent using a Shot card which conveys certain benefits to themselves and/or minuses to their opponent.

They then roll a d20 and have to achieve an "Escalation Number" to hit the ball; the number starts at 6 (then apply modifiers from the shot played). As each shot is successfully hit the Escalation Number required to successfully hit a shot increases 2 at a time until someone misses a shot or the number caps at 20. Once a shot is missed, a point is scored and the serve passes. First to 11 wins.


The Good
It does an excellent job of representing the ping pong mechanic. The escalation number and increasing bonuses and minuses of the cards played really give you a strong volley component of a good ping pong game. The artwork of the cards is a bit hit-and-miss for my taste but if you like a cartoon "PA" style then you should find the art to be be good or at worst acceptable.

The card material was good, not as high quality as something like Magic but much better than some of the cheaper games I've played out there. Out of habit though I immediately sleeved them (with Magic sized sleeves) so I don't have a long term durability report.

The Bad
The box does not come with all components needed to play. It comes with a d20 but not a way to score each point (d12) or with tokens which the Soviet deck needs.

The game is an ECG and while it doesn't require you to purchase anything else to play and enjoy the game it is built with customization in mind. A deck can have up to 4 of any one card (excepting stamina) so the idea is you'll buy more copies of the game at $30 each. Without this customization the game seemed very luck based, as each deck only has 1 copy each of the really powerful cards. So if your opponent draws theirs and you don't there isn't much you can do but hope to roll really, really well every turn until you draw better cards. I have not invested in multiple copies but from a long history with Magic: The Gathering I can see the depth that a customized deck focused on a few strategies could have.

The game is kinda long. I don't mind a luck heavy game if they are quick, like Zombie Dice, but PTL can take 30+ minutes and if you stall on stamina or only draw your basic shots it can take a while for your opponent to pummel you into submission and get on to the next game.

I have heard the rule book is bad; I got a demo of the game from one of the designers at PAX so I only read the rules after I already knew how to play. It seemed fine to me but I've read in more than one place it is tough to learn the rules just from that.

Is it Good?
Yes, it is Good. No more no less. The theme and core mechanics of the game are a lot of fun. Having to buy multiple copies of the game to get the most out of it isn't and seems like a cash grab to me; I think it would have been a better game if each deck was "complete" and customization was allowed for but not encouraged/required.

I recommend the game for people looking for a medium level card based game, preferably if you are already fans of Penny Arcade's humor and art style and are looking to support them in ways that don't require buying a T-Shirt. If this sells well then expect at least 2 more decks (to account for the characters shown in the related comics) and hopefully some rules for doubles play.
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Ariel P

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Just a note about the luck factor: It's greatly mitigated by the ability to discard cards in your hand or in play at any time to draw new cards.

Our first game, I was very low on stamina (mana), and had completely forgotten I could ditch cards to draw more.

Edit: One more for the "bad" column... The cards do not fit back in the box when they're sleeved.
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