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Subject: A review from Purple Pawn - story telling, steampunk, “whodunit” cardgame rss

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Sam Mercer
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Cross posted from www.purplepawn.com



It turns out that Dr Vanderfelt did in fact own a giant clockwork golem in his basement. He did in fact kill the fair Lady Eleanor because of her massive fortune. During the police investigation, he tried to cover up the fact that he was jilted by her when they were lovers, but that didn’t fool us: we knew that he was the last person to be alone with her … He had the Motive, the Method and the Opportunity and they all matched perfectly!

Ruse is a wonderful story telling card game that finishes its successful Kickstarter soon. Combining a nice friendly traditional style cardgame, with a very active storytelling component. Yes of course if you wish to simply “play the game” then you can, but this game really comes alive when you try and get into character a little. Players take turns in accusing others of committing the recent murder. Players can accuse others with a Motive, Method, or Opportunity or they can play a matching alibi card to cancel out one accusation against themselves. If you are unable to provide an alibi when you have a full set of three, well, you are the murderer! The rulebook then encourages the players to build the story up around the cue cards. The losers punishment is wonderful: they must tell the full story of their murder, how and why they committed such a devious act! Remembering their special alibi “get out of jail” cards that are used to cancel any accusation and bringing the story-top together. We had a really good time when we played , one of our memorable plays was a hard fought struggle, but eventually losing with the method, motive, and opportunity of : “Endurance and Conditioning / Recent Inheritance / Driver of the deceased” the game which was filled with upper class accents and tales of day to day steam punk life. The loser of course, had to sum up the murder:

“Well…I’ve been referring to myself as “Mr Marty Bags – the banker” up until now. But as you have caught me I wish to come clean. My real name is actually Nguyen Tawong. *audience gasps*. I was found abandoned in a monastery in Tibet when I was small, perhaps an off cast from some importing merchant family, I know not. The Tibetan monks took me in as one of their own and trained me to be a ninja guardian *points to a card someone accused him of labeled “Endurance and Conditioning”* giving me the means to break into the house of the deceased through the skylight. The reason? *points to inheritance* He … he had recently inherited a HUGE fortune and … my bank business was suffering … he … he wasn’t a moral fellow! He was scandalous himself! You must understand, I simply liberated his finances. I only wanted to take this wealth back to Tibet to repay all the kindness that my adopted family had shown me! Alas it was not to be. I found out his day to day movements, and used fake signatures to sign his will and testement over to me: I assumed the identity of “Cabins, the driver”, an expert driver with high references looking for a change in environment. He hired me, I drove him everywhere he wanted to go – the ungrateful sod! And now it looks like - I suppose you could say – I drove him “Out of this WORLD!!” Mwahahaha!!! *maniacal laughter & fade to black*

Thanks to this super game and our game group, we had a really great time with this little card game.

Devils Advocate:

If you do not enjoy story telling games, or dipping into character every now and then – this game will not be for you. Bonsai games say that the game can also be used as a deck of standard playing cards but the suit icons (4 of guns / King of gears) are very hard to see. The only thing that will lead this game to be really great in the long term is exciting players. If you play all your games with the exact same group – this game might lose its charm after 10 or so plays.

Defender of the Cause

With the right group, this game of deceit, and lies, is wonderful. It is a lot easier to get involved with than other similar story telling games as of course the player has cue cards that aid them in their accusations. New players take very easily to this game (it is easy to see what you should be doing and how to build a story around your gameplay). It is very good at encouraging players to join in the fun. This game will definitely be sitting in my shelf to be introduced to non-gamers. The art is magnificent. I found the art and the theme that it carried to be full of charm and magical whimsy. Each art piece made sense with loads of little in jokes that you only see on careful inspection and they are all really really pretty. Bonsai: I would strongly suggest you get some of that card art printed up as posters or mouse mats or something – you already have one request…
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Ben Pinchback
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Sam, very nice review. I'll admit that I'm not much of a story teller. Would you say this one has a little more game in it than Gloom, or is it similar in actual game weight?
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Sam Mercer
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Hey thanks Ben !
In all honesty Ben, I have not actually played Gloom - I base that only on what the other gamers around the table were saying. From what I understand at least, this game is definately lightweight - as said in the review, if you wanted the game only, it would be a mild game but you can get some interesting decisions with discarding or not.

The beauty of this game though, is that it doesn't matter if you're not a great story teller - as the game encourages and really helps your story out.
Eg if you lost with the cards: "Rifle, Close friend, last to see victim" You could easily make something up to essentially "connect the dots".

It is a good game to play with others for sure.
As far as "game weight" goes - there is definitely some, not enough to make it in a serious gamers top 50 though. But even if you are a little teeny bit into stories, I would recommend it
As said: all those that played rated it around a "very good 7" all things considered.
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Levi Mote
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bno70_1 wrote:
Sam, very nice review. I'll admit that I'm not much of a story teller. Would you say this one has a little more game in it than Gloom, or is it similar in actual game weight?


I agree, fantastic review I love the Devil's Advocate / Defender of the Cause sections.

I have never played Gloom either, but I did watch the TableTop video (like a million other people) and from what I can tell Gloom directs the story a little more than Ruse does. I had initially wanted to have no text on the cards and have only images, but Sarah talked me out of that.

I would take any comparisons to Gloom, Fiasco, or Dixit as profound compliments though.
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Pat Toohey
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I would go as far as to say that this game has noticeably LESS game in it than Gloom. At least in the games of Gloom I've played the competition has been fierce with a lot of attention payed to the strategic use of cards and allocation of pathos points.

However! In the story-telling aspect this game beats the pants off Gloom! In Gloom there are so many cards being played on so many different characters that the stories of characters and families gets pretty convoluted and silly (that is kind of the point though). In Ruse the accusations and alibis do a lot to keep the story really tight and fun.
I love the story-telling aspect of this game, which is exactly what I was looking for when I funded it
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Tim Woehlke
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u4527646 wrote:
I would go as far as to say that this game has noticeably LESS game in it than Gloom. At least in the games of Gloom I've played the competition has been fierce with a lot of attention payed to the strategic use of cards and allocation of pathos points.

However! In the story-telling aspect this game beats the pants off Gloom! In Gloom there are so many cards being played on so many different characters that the stories of characters and families gets pretty convoluted and silly (that is kind of the point though). In Ruse the accusations and alibis do a lot to keep the story really tight and fun.
I love the story-telling aspect of this game, which is exactly what I was looking for when I funded it


Agreed. It's more light-hearted than Gloom and probably a quicker play. It's not something you're going to sit down and play a dozen rounds of. It's quick and fun. Two or three 10 minute rounds would be more than enough. Having friends over and waiting on someone? Or it gets late and everyone's a little tipsy. This is a good one to break out for those in-between times, when you need something that's a ton of fun in a short amount of time. It's also easy to learn, non-gamers will grab onto it very quickly.

Oh, and the artwork is beautiful.
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