Whether it’s a Strategy game, RPG or action game, the games I’m drawn to the most are the ones with captivating stories. Same applies to my board games. While I don’t mind playing board games just for the fun of their mechanics, I love it when the actions in my game affect the greater game around me. It makes it more memorable and immersive for me.
Gamewright has just released a series of games that is aiming to tap into this style of playing, but targeted at a younger audience. So, if you want to introduce your children to the joys of gaming, but would rather they not sit and play video games all day, you should let them try out one of the new Cardventures games.
According to Board Game Babylon, Cardventures are story-based games for 1 or more players, ages 8 and up, and take about 15 minutes to play. The stories in the Cardventures are written to be child-friendly, so even younger kids may be fine playing them, though they may need help with the rules or with reading. And although the game is designed for more than one player, it is essentially more of a solo game, adding more player simply increases the number of people involved in the decision-making.
It’s an interesting concept which essentially sees each card that a player plays, tell a brief part of the story and allow them to make certain decisions. Based on the decisions you make, you then need to find the right card corresponding to your choice. They are different-coloured decks within a game, so finding a corresponding card won’t involve flipping through the entire deck, but simply picking up the matching number from the coloured deck you are looking for. So, it’s essentially like a choose-your-own-adventure book, except as a card game. It’s a little bit more than that, as the game is also sort of a puzzle, with only one correct outcome to the story.
The game ends if you are directed to a card but it’s not available because it’s already in your story pile or items pile. Then, you add up all the stars you’ve acquired and check your score against the Story Ending cards, where you will get one of six possible endings. The only happy ending, however, is if you score a perfect 300 points by finding the right path through all 56 cards.
Currently there are two separate games available in the series, Stowaway 52 and Jump Ship! In Stowaway 52, you’ve snuck aboard an alien ship that’s planning to attack Earth, and it’s up to you to stop them. There are four decks of cards, and you get to start with any random card drawn from the deck of your choice. Generally, you’ll put all of the cards you’ve read into one story pile, but there are a few cards with items on them that you set to the side, because sometimes a choice involves using an item, and you can only take that choice if you’ve already acquired the item.
In Jump Ship!, you are the captain of the Black Bounty, and you’re taking advantage of the fact that several other pirate ships happen to be docked in Bedlam Bay to grab some loot before you retire to Mermaid Beach. You start this game by picking a random card from the Black Bounty deck, and then following the prompts. Most of the time, you’ll be directed to specific cards, but sometimes you’ll be instructed to draw a random card from a deck. In particular, if you ever make a choice that sends you to the Deep End, you draw a card at random and take your chances!
Each of the Cardventures games do not just have a different and interesting story that should keep players engaged, but slightly different objectives and mechanics involved in certain scenarios to get you through the game making each separate game feel free when playing it. Playwright is also interested in writing several more stories for the concept and hoping to release these on a regular basis, so if it’s a concept that you and your kids love, there is more to look forward to.
It’s certainly a different idea and while it might be a little light on replay value once you figure out the perfect path for the game, it can still offer up many hours of fun, particular for children. It’s a great way, not only of keeping them busy and avoiding needing to make up some random bedtime story, but also to introduce your kids to the finer arts of narrative gaming. These may be games designed for kids, but this is definitely something I wouldn’t mind playing myself.
Cardventures is available online in several stores, but should also be available at specialist gaming stores in South Africa. They currently retail for around $12 (R160) on Amazon (excluding shipping costs), which is a decent price for a full card game with hours of game-play. You can also then pass it around to others once you’re done, because the other beauty of cards games is they have no DRM.