Publisher: Sherwood Games
Game Designer: Duncan Davis
Ages: 12 & up
Playing Time: 15-45 minutes
Game Mechanics: Card Drafting, Set Collection
Contents: 72 cards, rule book
Suggested Retail Price: $15.00
Parental Advisory: Safe for children over 12
The Meme Game (formerly titled 9RedChan) is a Kickstarter card game set to launch next month from Duncan Davis of Sherwood Games that uses some familiar old memes from the sites that made them popular to create a set collection party game for 3-7 people.
Summary of Content
The review copy I received of The Meme Game was a prototype and as always with prototypes, I will not be scoring component quality in this review. The game components are simple, just a deck of 72 cards broken down as twelve different meme ‘suits’ of six cards each and 7 page, pint sized rule book.
The cards are made up of familiar meme’s with new tag lines to fit the cards intended ability along with a brief explanation of that ability and scoring values for each collected stack size at the top of the card. You’ll need to hit the rule book for better explanations of some of the powers because their uses are not all very clear from the tiny, brief text at the bottom of the card and some need further clarification.
Analysis and Evaluation
The Meme Game is a very simple game with a lightning fast setup. Players start with a five card hand and during each turn everyone draws from the deck and drafts one card from their hand, placing it face down in front of them and then all player cards are revealed simultaneously, using any applicable powers of the newly drafted card. Remaining cards in the hand are then passed to the left where this continues until the draw deck is exhausted and players tally points to determine the winner.
As cards are drafted you place them in sets called stacks in this game. At the end of the game, each stack will have a different value based on the number of cards you collected as listed on the top of the card.
All of the cards except one, have different powers such as drawing or drafting more cards on the next turn or even swapping stacks with another player, which can come in handy late in the game to boost your score while dropping an opponent’s.
Most of these powers are self-explanatory but as I mentioned earlier, some do need referencing of the rule book for clarity. The rule book explains these powers well enough to fill in the gaps left by the text on the cards, they’re not hard and you should be able to pick them up after a couple of rounds.
Using the powers can get a little wonky and chaotic because the rules state there is no order of resolution, so whoever acts first resolves their ability first. There is one exception to this, the Confession Bear meme card. Its ability is used once everyone else has done their actions for the turn because this card allows the player to steal another’s stack. If there are multiple copies of this card played then the youngest player resolves their action first.
The game plays very fast, even quicker with a full table of 7 since more of the meme’s with extra card draw powers will get into play right away, removing cards from the deck at a brisk pace which is a good thing because there’s just nothing here to draw you in.
The card ‘art’ is nothing more than cut and paste internet meme’s that we’ve all seen countless times before and while I get that the game is trying to play on the humor or absurdity of the meme’s, it really makes no sense from a gameplay standpoint. Why would you need to collect meme’s and why should they give you powers? I could buy into it with a better overall theme and interesting mechanics but this has neither of those.
Another problem is that the meme’s take up entirely too much real estate on the face of the cards, leaving very little room for the ability text which is curious since these explain the mechanics of the card play.
The resolution phase could really use organization, such as adding numbers on the cards to give an order of resolution. Turning a game phase chaotic in this way is not very fun and feels like rather sloppy or lazy design.
Some of the cards just don’t make any sense and can slightly unbalance the game. For example, Overly Attached Girlfriend always gets drafted when discarded, I get the thematic attempt at using the meme because you can’t get rid of her, but why? Another issue is that the card becomes a benefit rather than a negative and with one of the two cards that can discard her, (Small Fact Frog) you take four cards off of the draw deck, discard three of them and draft another card on top of getting hers back. A few of those combo’s and the deck runs dry in no time, leaving other players in a lurch just due to luck of the draw rather than any sort of strategic play.
An interesting theme and better card chains would be a marked improvement here. Aside from points, why would I want to draft a set of High Expectations Asian Father over Confession Bear? This is where cards could build on other cards and offer strategies that are important, even for a filler game such as this. As an example, in Greed thug cards make you money, perform additional actions etc. while action cards are a one time use card and holdings are your ‘legit’ businesses. There are strategies in what you draft and when you play them with that sort of variance and there’s none of that in The Meme Game.
This game would have been better served by another theme with nicely drawn art and more balanced powers that benefited and tied multiple cards to each other rather than sticking with just a few. The cut and paste look of the cards serves as a poor first impression and the limited and tiny text of the abilities can cause some initial frustration.
Lacking any order of resolution turns an otherwise docile set collection game into a slightly chaotic mess in the resolution phase of each turn. Adding numbers to the cards to direct when players resolve, in either ascending or descending order, would be a much better solution here I think.
The rule book is quite good, listing the setup and card powers clearly and I really appreciate that it is an actual small book and not rules printed on cards which makes it much easier to read and reference.
Club Fantasci Scoring (Based on scale of 10):
Rules Book: 7
Component Quality: NA
Club Fantasci Overall Score: 4
I’m giving The Meme Game a 4 out of 10 score because it’s a game that once played, is not likely to get back to the table because there’s no compelling reason or clever mechanics to warrant another play and in the end it’s just not really fun.
It is a very basic set collection game that suffers from a lack of identity, (why would I be collecting meme’s?) some unbalanced cards and an absent resolution order that doesn’t induce the fun it may have intended. With numerous set collection games out there, nothing in The Meme Game sets it apart or hooks you in. With some work and a new theme, it can definitely improve.
Company Website: http://sherwoodgames.com/
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