A [insert genre here] B-Movie Card Game (Z-Man Games)

Games played: The Scurvy Musketeers of the Spanish Main: A Swashbuckling B-Movie Card Game (2006); Grave Robbers III: Suburban Slashers from Sunnydale Street: A Sci-Fi/Horror B-Movie Card Game (2009)

Date played: February 29, 2020

Gist of the game: The premise of the game is to create a B-movie worth more points than your opponents’ by combining characters, a location, and props. There are also creatures, which you can use to attack your opponents’ movies. Special effects  cards can be used to stop the effect of cards or allow additional actions, etc. Characters are played on your own movie set, while locations can be played on anyone’s (and may be advantageous to do so, if you, for instance, find a location worth negative points in your hand). A character can have unlimited props, but only one prop can be added to each player per turn. Only one location can be played on each set, except for very special circumstances in which a specific location (e.g., Belowdecks) can be played with another specific location (e.g., Naval Frigate). You can play attacks with creatures. If the attack strength of the creature exceeds the total point value of the targeted movie set, the attack succeeds and the victor chooses an attacked character to discard.

Additionally, cards have a “title” word printed on them. At the beginning of the game, you draw the first 6 cards and use as many of those title words as possible to create the title of the movie each of you is constructing. At the end of the game, any cards you have with any of those title words is worth bonus points. The game ends when a player plays a “Roll the Credits” card or the last card from the draw pile is drawn. In either scenario, the player whose movie is worth the most cumulative points (from characters, props, locations, and title words) wins.

Color Commentary: Two personal notes here. First, with over 300 games, we’ve been facing severe decision paralysis when it comes to choosing a game, which is a partial explanation for the most recent dry spell. But we found a solution! We’re going to use a random number generator from now on, and we play the first game that we have enough players for (usually two, if we’re honest) and that we haven’t played before. This is also a clever way of dealing with expansions and interchangeable games, like these two. So if a particular game has an expansion or is interchangeable with another, we’ll probably play that second item, as well.

Second, we got a card shuffler, and M was drunk on power. Rarely has such glee been seen in this household, including coming off of extremely productive visits to the comic book store. However, both the Musketeers and the Suburbs have large decks, and for the first game (Musketeers), it’s possible we didn’t shuffle the deck enough. A dynamic we couldn’t help, though, is that there are only two Roll the Credits cards. For a game that can be played by up to 6 people, this has a real limiting effect on who can end the game and has the probable effect of making the game last longer than it might if there were more such cards.

The title cards are a kind of neat little feature. The title of our Musketeers movie was Dead Privateer Marquis Hawk in the Slasher Forest, and the title of our Suburban movie was Beyond the Haunted Legend of the Undead Ghost Spawn. Neither of us had any of the title words at the end of either game, so the title was technically moot, though I had been keeping track and some of words drifted in and out of my movie set.

The only strategy that really makes sense is attrition, especially because reducing your opponents’ point totals may be easier than increasing your own (if you keep drawing creatures but no characters, you won’t be able to increase your points, but you can certainly decrease someone else’s). At one point during the second game, neither of us had any cards in our movie set.

There are also sometimes incentives to attack your own movie set. If you win an attack, you can choose a character to discard. M had used a special character attribute to give me a character worth -4 points, taking the total point value of my set down to like, -2. So I attacked my own set, lost, but was able to jettison the Corporate Yes-Man. Ha! Take that, capitalism.

M’s thoughts: And I quote, “This is a good game that’s probably better with more than two players. But is it worth making friends to do so?” We left that question unanswered. Fortunately, he had other inspired thoughts as well.

In terms of a strategy of attrition, with more than two players it becomes more complicated because you have to manage the rise and fall of multiple opponents’ point totals. The strategy is similar to Guillotine’s [to eventually be the subject of a post here, since it’s an oldie but goodie in the Hendriquist household], in that I don’t think long-term strategies are possible. You need to do what’s best for you in the moment and hope you get lucky. I had initially been trying to save some better cards, but the only real choices regarding your opponents come in terms of choosing between creatures in a given moment, given that you can attack more than once in a turn).

Also, I won both games.