There’s one thing that every single person whose ever watched a movie have in common: they have suggested a different angle or ending to a scene, or to the whole movie itself. Movie goers are all potential movie writers or directors. Seriously, every time you see an interview with a modern filmmaker they talk about how they were influenced by *insert name here*, and that’s exactly the mentality that this game preys upon.
Sure it is easy to come up with a better ending, but how easy is it to come up with a pitch for a film on the spot? If a movie producer came to you and said,’ I hear you’ve been talking smack about my films, YOU come up with a better idea!’, could you do it, or would you just blather on and watch them and their multimillion dollar investment walk away…
Pitchstorm is a party game that gives you that opportunity… well, without financial offer anyway.
The rules for Pitchstorm come in two different ways, one for 3 to 5 players, and the other for 6 to 12, so as a party game, it can be suitable for a small table or a large gathering of people. The rules are only slightly different as the second offering makes it a team based game.
The concept is very simple. Each player (or team) have to pitch an idea to the player acting as ‘the executive’, who then picks the best pitch and that player (or team) received a point.
At the beginning of the game (for a 3 to 5 player game), one player as picked as the executive, and they get to draw three cards from the ‘Notes’ pile. Next all the players get to draw three cards from either the Character or the Plot pile. Each player, in turn has to pick one card from the deck they DIDN’T pick from initially, for example, if a player drew three plot cards, they now pick one character card.
After they have their single card, they have to pick one of the three cards in their hand and have 90 seconds to pitch their movie to the executive. However, and the 60 second mark, the executive picks one of their notes and tells the pitching player that this has to be added to the pitch. The executive picks the movie they liked the most and that player keeps their ‘note’ card as an indicator of one point. This goes around the table until everyone has had a turn, and the winner is the one with the highest amount of note cards.
In a larger game, teams of two, each team player either takes three character or plot cards and place them at the same time for the concept of their film. During the 60 second pitch, performed by both players, the executive team, who have note cards each, will place their note cards so the players have to adjust their pitches twice with the new information. The scoring is the same as above except for the team.
The final goal for this game is variable, as you can play it as long as you want but just as long as each player/ team has had an opportunity of being the executive.
NB.: there is a Pitchstorm timer app available on the App Store.
Pitchstorm is a fun game for a big group, but only if every one is compliant with the concept. Like bigger games like Dungeons and Dragons, if a person is not INTO playing the game, they won’t just have a bad time, they will drag the entire game down. It is, essentially, a storytelling game and that story/ joke telling skill set is one necessary for a fun time. This is a game for people who love to be creative and loud and funny.
Not reviewed but available are 7 expansions: Pitchstorm NC-17, Pitchstorm Date Night, Pitchstorm Superheroes, Pitchstorm Animation, Pitchstorm Creature Features, Pitchstorm So Bad It’s Good and Awards Season. Most of these are simply entertaining the tropes that the name suggests, but Awards Season also adds Award Cards, which give bonus points.
I don’t know where they came from, but I always seem to have had copies of the card game Top Trumps in my house. Maybe they came from overseas relatives along with my Beano annuals, or maybe friends bought them for me, but either way, I became the Top Trumps guy. I liked collecting tradings cards, and Top Trumps was like getting a full set all in one go.
I rediscovered them in the early 2000s when my daughter became of that discovering games age, also it was pretty cool to revisit the collection, and buy some new decks, and we started getting titles like Top Gear, DC superheroes and all the Doctor Who ones… yeah, ‘HER’ collection!
(NB: one of those Doctor Who decks has one of the most interesting cards in all of my 520 board and card games… Hitler! Yikes!)
Obviously, Amazon knows what I buy and has seen, over the years, my consumption of many decks of sets of Top Trumps, in combination with my massive horror consumption, led the algorithm to suggest this to me: Top Trumps Unofficial Guide to 30 Scary Flix.
The rules to Top Trumps are quite simple. The aim of the game is to have all of the cards in your hand, but how do we do that in Top Trumps?
The cards are dealt evenly amongst all the players and each player holds their personal deck so they can only see the top card. Each card has a series of stats on them, in this case Budget (in millions of $), Survival Rate, Sequels & Prequels, Cult Status, Soundtrack and Fear Factor, and the first player reads out a stat of their choice. All the players compare that stat, and the one with the highest score wins all the other players cards, and places them on the bottom of their personal deck. The winner then gets to choose the next stat
If two cards have the same value, all those cards go into a pool and the same stat is picked for the next card, the winner gets all the cards including the ones in the pool.
The game is a very simple kids game, made mature by its choice of subject matter. It’s not going to tax ones brain, but occasionally a game can take so long that it may tax one’s patience. Like Monopoly, this isn’t really a game people play anymore, but collect due to the variety of geographical or pop culture themes added to it.
The plastic packaging is sturdy, and the cards are of a fairly robust nature, but there are a couple of problems. Some of the card images from the films aren’t very interesting, like the 28 Days Later card which just has an image of Cillian Murphy on a bridge. I think perhaps the movies posters may have been a better idea. There is also the grand idea of having a fun little Top Trumps File which has a little blurb about the movie… and I mean little. Like 64 words in a 3cm by 2 cm box little. Horror is so much scarier without eye strain!
The choices of movies are quite broad though. You would expect Nightmare on Elm St or Texas Chain Saw Massacre, but surprises like Ginger Snaps, Ringu and The Babadook are great to see.
This isn’t a game that an adult would play because it’s fun, but if, like me, you are curating a horror board and card game collection, it’s a good addition!
It was a great mix of sci-fi and horror and took risks in storytelling that really opened the door for what we have in sci-fi and horror TV today. It even adapted as cast came and went and whilst every season wasn’t a hit, it mostly was intriguing and a good watch…
… and to say I had a crush on Dana Scully is an understatement.
The puzzling, investigative nature of the show lends itself wonderfully to board game mechanics, as investigation and puzzles are the cornerstone mechanics of many popular games. From RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons, to solo games like Rush Hour, these are the mechanics that can enthral any number of players!
This means that several games have been based on the show, and this one, X-Files: Circle of Truth is a re-skinning of a puzzle game for two players from Buttonshy called Circle the Wagons. Buttonshy are known for ‘wallet games’; cheap, small number of player games that usually have very few pieces, this game has 18 cards and two player ID cards, but contain fun, or at least interesting distractions that only take 15 to 30 minutes to play.
X-Files: Circle of Truth sees two players choose whether they want to be Mulder or Scully, each character has a different advantage that doesn’t make much difference at the beginning of the game so the choice is has little relevance until the game starts to play, but you should still keep your advantage in your mind while you select cards.
The other 18 cards have ‘cases’ on one side and 4 images of aliens, microscopes, guns and other things the FBI would use, on a variety of backgrounds representing ‘places’, like fields, sewers etc, and the game set up sees three cases picked for the middle of the table, and the other 15 cards placed with the 4 images facing up in a circle around them (‘Circle’ of Truth… see?).
The point of the game is to have the most points and points can be achieved in several ways. The first is by scoring the most amount of a particular location, for example, you would get 4 points if you have 4 sewer cards connection, but none for any other sewers. The cards with the 4 images on them are taken by the players and placed in front of them, and can be partially laid over each other in an attempt to make larger areas of the same location. The trick with the accumulation of these cards is that it’s taken in clockwise order.
The play is started in one position chosen by the second player, but if the first player particularly wants a card two cards away from the starting position, the first player gets the cards in between, creating a personal ‘map’ by laying the cards as mentioned above.
The other way to get points is if one of the mission cards in the middle of the circle in achieved, which could be if you have UFO logos in a row, or getting bonus points for any 4 files attached corner to corner in a square.
The game is quite fun, and quick to play. The Buttonshy games are clever in their tiny size with big gameplay execution, but I think that sometimes the cleverness is the selling point rather than the actual gameplay. This game is fun, sure, but the fact it’s a reskinned cowboy game means that other than the iconography, it’s not very thematic as an X-Files game.
Also, considering it’s a extremely portable game, it takes up a lot of room on a table, so it’s not very suitable as a game one might take to the pub. There are certainly games that are more fun that take up less room that are more thematic to their theme. Love Letter is the perfect example of a small game that alters its gameplay slightly to adhere to the theme of its reskinning, like the Thanos or Star Wars versions.
To summarise, I do like the game, but it’s theme is tacked on and for a ‘little’ game, it takes up a lot of space.
Several weeks ago, I did a review for a fun card game called “Psycho Killer’ from Escape Tabletop Games. The kind people from VR Distribution in Australia saw this review and kindly offered me a copy of each of the expansions to review.
If you wish to read that review, you can find it here: Psycho Killer Card Game – go back and read that first before embarking in this review.
In that original review, I do criticise the game for being packed in a far-too-big box for how small the game is, and when I saw how small these expansions are I assumed they would fit in the box with the original cards, which they do, but only if you remove the inserts that hold the original cards in place, or you can take these cards out and throw them in the box which would be a shame, because the audio cassette/ Walkman boxes are pretty cool.
Just on that: the boxes for these expansions ARE cool, but make no sense thematically. The original game, set around slasher films of the 80s come in a video tape, which is bang on for theme, but these seem to be more about the box art theme of the original rather than the game theme. Sure they all look cool together, but I just don’t get it.
The three expansions are called Gratuitous Violence, Z and Bloody Mary.
Gratuitous Violence is our first expansion, and it adds a much more combative experience. There are 15 cards in this little tiny box, all marked with a ‘V’ so if you want to play the game WITHOUT these cards, they are easily removed.
First, it adds a Psycho Creature to the pile, if you draw this guy, you don’t just drop all your weapons, you also take one from each other player… yikes! Save Yourself allows you to force another player to draw your last card instead of you. Creepy Local let’s you try to steal a particular card from another players hand. I Know What You’ll Do Next Summer let’s you look at rearrange the top three cards so you can pick who gets what for the next three hands, and finally, three ranged weapons (Flame Thrower, Crossbow and Hunting Rifle (not pictured)) which have the unique ability of the player holding them being able to put them on another players weapon pile to increase THEIR score.
As you can see, these cards add a really nasty, attack-other-players element to the game, and the word “BAST-AAAAAAAAARD” will be exclaimed often. Also, the addition of the extra cards means that the player count can be increased to 7, so you can make even more people angry!
Z is the next expansion, and adds a zombie apocalypse to the threat of a Psycho Killer. Again, this card adds enough cards to the deck so you can increase the player count to 7, but whereas Gratuitous Violence was all about attaching other players, this is all about you as an individual.
This expansion is all about getting infected by a zombie virus, and then trying to get rid of it to another player. The weapon cards in this expansion are all zombie attacks (Bite, Scratch and Swarm) but they don’t get played when a Psycho Killer attacks, but instead they get played when you draw an Infected card, and you will keep playing those cards as long as you are infected.
You can get rid of the card though, with either a The Cure card, in which you shuffle it back into the deck (keeping your wounds), a Supply Run card, were the player takes one card from every players hand (maybe they’ll take that infected card) and the Patient Zero Psycho Killer card, where you distribute your cards to the other players. There is also a Shallow Grave card, which can be swapped with the top card on the discard pile; got an Infected card? Swap it with a played The Cure, if you are lucky!
This expansion is hilariously self-destructive, but the zombie injury cards are affected by the Band Aids and Stitches cards from the main game, also cards like Let’s Split, Drop Your Keys and Disarm can also be a way to rid yourself of the Infected card.
Bloody Mary is the final expansion, and it turns Psycho Killer into a drinking game! The first thing one must do to play this game as a drinking game, is to remove all the Psycho Killers and Weapons cards from the base game, and replace them with the Bloody Mary cards, and the Drink cards. The scoring is still the same, except when someone gets a Bloody Mary card, everyone has to take as many sips of their drink as the points on the card say. For example, if you got a Bloody Mary (+3 points) and placed a Beer card with it (+1), you would take 4 sips of your drink.
This game also adds ‘Character Cards’ to the mix as well. While you have a character card in your hand, you must take on the persona of that card. For example, if you have The Bartender in your hand, it’s your job to keeps everyone’s drinks filled, The Final Girl stops you from taking a drink, and The Jock allows you to pick a member of your frat, and they have to drink whenever you drink. These character cards make for an interesting experiment in the game, and even cards like Play Dead allows you to keep a character card should the opportunity come up where a character is to be removed, which is whenever a Bloody Mary is played.
There’s also other drink-oriented cards like Pass Out Under the Bed, where instead of drawing a card to end your turn, you take a drink, and Splatter, where everyone must keep drinking their drink until they finish theirs, or you finish yours!
I’d like to point out at this point of the review, that the To Watch Pile encourages everyone to drink responsibly, look out for your buddies and please, don’t drink and drive.
This box also has a bunch of blank cards do you can create your own Psycho Killers: maybe your deck needs a Cropsy (drink a flaming sambuca), or a Madman Mars (you have to spend 5 minutes awkwardly in a spa with another person while terrible music plays), or even a Norman Bates (player wears a wig and impersonates their mother until the next Psycho Killer is drawn).
I have to make the points on this one a bit lower than the others for two reasons. One, the re-jiggery-pokery of the deck on setup is never a fun way to start a game, though the makers of the game have labelled all the cards with a little Bloody Mary so they are easily removed. The other issue is that it narrows the game to drinkers only, so under-18s are immediately left out as are non-drinkers. I think games are better when they appeal to a wider audience, and this narrows it. Don’t get me wrong, the actual mechanics of the drinking in this expansion are fun, but a non-drinker in your board game club isn’t going to get anything out of it. Also, it’s a shame the character cards weren’t in other expansions with non-alcohol related things for them to do, like maybe a ‘Lovers’ card who divide damage equally or something like that.
These expansions all have a recommended retail of about $19.95, and I think the Gratuitous Violence and Z boxes are certainly worth it, even though the contents of the box don’t seem to be much. They do add fun extra elements of gameplay with a small amount of components. The Bloody Mary expansion I probably wouldn’t worry too much about, but I do like that you can make your own Psycho Killers! People whose board game nights turn into orgies of liquor might enjoy it.
I’d just like to offer a thank you to the people at VR Distribution for allowing me an opportunity to review their product.