Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Raiders of the lost card game

Cannibal Pygmies in the Jungle of Doom is another in the B-movie card game series by Z-Man Games. It was the first one to be published after the original Grave Robbers From Outer Space, and the theme, as you may have guessed, is adventure films such as the Indiana Jones series.

We played the first B-movie card game on our list (Bushwhakin' Varmints Out of Sergio's Butte) as a two player game, and found it to be fun enough but lacking in any real strategy, with luck of the draw ruling the game. For this one, we decided to enlist a couple of friends to get a better sense of how the game system plays with a larger group.

Usually, games like this play better with more players, but I found this to not really be the case at all with Cannibal Pygmies. Having four players instead of two mainly served to make the game take longer to play, and if anything made it more random and chaotic, as any player who got even a little bit ahead got ganged up on by the other players.

One of the main points of strategy in the B-movie series is the timing of when to play the Roll the Credits card. It ends the game, so if you find yourself with one of the two in the deck, you want to hold onto it so you can end the game when you have the most points and your opponents have the least. Unfortunately the game also ends when the deck of 120 cards runs out, which happens a lot faster when there are more players.

The couple we played with are very experienced gamers, and fairly critical ones, so talking about the game with them made me reassess some of my opinions about this game series. One bone of contention for us is the fact that the theme doesn't really fit the game mechanics. The theme is that players are making low budget genre movies, casting actors, putting them in locations and giving them props, and applying special effects to affect the game. However, this idea falls down with the core game mechanic of using creature cards to attack your opponent's cards. It reduces the game to a fairly simple series of attacks and defenses which fits the idea of genre adventure, but not the idea of making movies.

I have a lot of affection for the B-movie games, but some of that may be because they came out when I was starting to make the transition from collectible games to stand-alone board and card games, and they have a bit of the flavor of both. Under closer scrutiny, this game starts to look like a fairly unremarkable combat game with the B-movie idea grafted onto it to give it a humorous gimmick.

Rating: 2 (out of 5) Once you get past the jokes about adventure movie cliches, the game itself is unremarkable.

Date played: December 18, 2013

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