You are at a family reunion and doing everything you can to stay sane, but all you have is...
|Designer(s)||Joel David||Artist(s)||Dan David||Publisher||
Grumpy Spider Games
A towel, first aid kit, solar panel, parachute, and bubble wrap... Ok, now what? Well, that is up to you. If you were in this situation and had limited tools at your disposal, how would you approach the issue whether in the most logical, creative, or hilarious way possible? This is the idea behind Rucksack.
Rucksack is an upcoming party storytelling game where players will be presented with a scenario and will acquire five items to use as part of their master plan to overcome the challenge. As with most party games, you will want to know your audience and tailor your approach to ensure you win the most votes. Sounds easy enough? Well, it is. Its light weight and meant to be welcoming to gamers of all levels of experience.
We were provided a prototype of the game so the final product may be slightly different from the pictures we provide. However, since it is a card game, the biggest variable will be the type of cardstock used and the finish. The box we have is very similar to your typical party game box allowing cards to lay down sideways. Based on the number of cards included with the prototype and the size of the box, the designer likely has plans for expansions to add in additional cards.
The game includes:
- 50+ Scenario Cards: These will provide the players with a brief description of a situation that players will be up against. Most of the cards are open ended allowing for flexibility for the storyteller.
- 100 Item Cards: These cards provide a variety of items the storyteller will collect to use as they overcome the scenario card. The card has a picture of what the item is along with the word(s).
- 50 Voting Sheets: These basic sheets will allow you to track the name of each player and your vote each round.
- 8 Pencils
- Rule Sheet
The quality of our prototype is very good, and I really don't have any major complaints. I would like to see a cardboard or foam filler for the box to prevent card cards from shifting all over. The current cards only take up about a fourth of the box. The pencils and voting sheets could easily sit on top of the cards once packed away. If there are plans for expansions, then this box makes a lot of sense, and I would prefer having the extra space for now. Again, this not a major complaint and something easily addressed by the designer or even the end user with a sheet of cardstock paper (or cardboard from a box). However, if there are no plans for expansions, it may be better to shrink down the box. I understand from a marketing standpoint, you want visibility on store shelves, but from a gamer perspective, I have limited shelf space.
I like that the items cards have the illustration of what the item is; I believe this could really make the game more approachable by younger children or those who don't speak English as their primary language. It also helps this game standout from many party games that just have words on the cards; I like having the nice illustrations. Also, they each cards has a fun description/pun underneath the illustration that is not needed for the game, but I really enjoy reading those and their references.
Gameplay is very straightforward. You are presented the scenario, collect 5 items, and tell a 1~2-minute story.
- Separate the two decks of cards, shuffle them, and place them each facedown creating their respective decks.
- Give each player a pencil and voting sheet.
- Flip over the first scenario card.
- Select a first player and begin play!
- The active player will have one of two choices:
- Draw from the top of the deck. Look at the drawn card and decide if you want it. If you don't, discard it face up to the discard pile and take a new card from the top of the deck; you must keep that card.
- Take the top item card in the discard pile (if there is one).
- The next player clockwise becomes the active player.
- Repeat these steps until all players have five cards in their hand; the round shifts into storytelling.
- The player who started the round will be the first to tell their story. The only requirement for their story is to use all five of their item cards and address the scenario. Stories should probably stay within a few minutes to keep the game moving.
Players will take a minute to privately vote on their favorite story. Once everyone is finished, keep your votes hidden. Slide the current scenario card to the side and flip over a new one. Collect all used items cards and shuffle them back into the deck.
After 3 rounds (or the agreed upon number), all players will reveal their voting sheets and collectively tally up the total number of votes for each players. The player with the most votes win! In the event of a tie, tied players will face off against each other in a tie breaker round. This is handled exactly the same way as normal gameplay, but only the tie players faceoff. All players will vote for their favorite.
If you are in a situation with more than 8 players, this game is still perfectly playable. You will just need to reduce the number of items players collect and may consider reducing the game to 2 rounds. It really just depends on how long you want to play the game.
They also mention an open voting option where players will openly know who the other players are voting for. I won't really go into this much because I don't personally feel like I would play this way. I am sure it works perfectly fine, but I feel players may focus too much on trying to win rather than just having fun. This is purely a personal preference though.
Overall, this is a very good game that is easy for anyone to jump into with straightforward rules. When we played, my players started discussing themed decks ideas like one with Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) items and scenarios; this would be a great little filler during D&D sessions when players need a break but others are still sitting at the table. So, Joel and Dan, maybe consider a roleplay themed set with common/generic weapons, armor, and wonderous items and common situations that happen in roleplay games. This could easily expand into sci-fi, horror, and more.
I mentioned wanting a spacer or something to fill in the empty space in the box so I won't go over that minor wish list item. The only other thing I can really see is having the voting sheets be double sided from a purely ecofriendly point of view; the voting sheets probably could be shrunk down and double sided so they can be used again rather than throwing out 4 sheets of paper after a single game.
Rucksack is a fun party game that is great for those wanting a little more entertainment in their card games. Based on what is currently in the game, I see a lot of potential for expansions in the future. If you like storytelling and enjoy lightweight party games, be sure to check out Rucksack, which is currently live on Kickstarter until August 12th, 2021.
We received the prototype in order to write an honest review; all reviews reflect the honest opinions of the writer.