Six Greetings Card Games (The Dark Imp) Review
Did you know that First-Class stamps are going up to 95 pence soon? 95p!!! If you’re going to send something in the post, you might as well make the most of it. What better way to make the most of an outrageously expensive stamp than to send someone a game? Ellie Dix and The Dark Imp have you covered, with not one, but six greetings card games in a bundle.
Pushing the envelope
My experience of games in greetings cards goes about as far as a word-search in a Transformers birthday card when I was eight. Given my
unhealthy obsession fascination with modern board games, I’m looking for a little bit more when it comes to games now. Just because a game is cheap, or simple, isn’t an excuse for it to be bad. Ellie has some serious form when it comes to designing games, and I’ve covered them here before. When she asked me if I’d like to take a look at her greetings cards games, I leapt at the chance.
What we’re looking at in this bundle are gosh-darned actual, proper, games. Not roll-and-move, not Ludo, not Snakes and Ladders.
Well, actually, yes, there is snakes and ladders – but hear me out.
Rondels, resource-management, secret placement, worker-placement, action selection – it’s all in there. Heck, there’s even a legacy game in here.
I’m not going to pick apart each of the games here, but I’ll touch on some of my favourites, and why they’re my favourites.
This is arguably the simplest game in the bundle, but it’s a really tight, tense, two-player game. Cut out the little ships, and face off against your opponent across the board. It’s very easy to move your little boats, rotate them, and even ram your opponent.
It’s a great game to play with kids, and if you’re not just trying to be Competitive Dad, there’s plenty of scope for ‘accidentally’ letting ships slip past without being obvious. If you’ve ever played those games where you have to slide blocks up, down, left and right to free another piece, Enemy Lines will feel immediately familiar.
Splinter appealed to me in a lot of different ways. The idea is simple: each round you’re given a task, something to create from a sheet of paper. It might be a paper plane, or a sculpture, or a string of paper dolls. I love anything crafty, and I’m a big fan of doing pretty much anything competitively.
What makes Splinter so much fun, and so clever, is that you only have one sheet of paper to use for the entire game. You might be tempted to use most of it to make a really good plane, only to find out you’ve still got to try to compete for ‘longest single piece of paper’. You end up with some real dilemmas, and you’ll be amazed how creative you can be with a few scraps left.
I really like Splinter, it’s the sort of game I could easily see fleshed-out to a bigger, boxed game. Great stuff.
This one, along with another called Snakes, Ladders, and a Pogo Stick, was my favourite of the bunch. On the face of it, it’s a clever, slightly tricky, co-op game. Between you, you need to get the four pawns from their starting squares back to their respective home squares. The square you land on has to match one of a selection of tiles beside the board, and that square can never be visited again. It reminds me of the Knight’s tour problem.
It’s a clever enough game, but the advanced mode is great. It’s a legacy game with four missions, each giving you specific squares to visit. If you win a mission, you take an impediment, and if you lose you get an improvement, and these are fun little features you get to draw on your board to permanently alter how it plays. Speaking as someone who doesn’t like to play expensive legacy games, only to destroy and deface much of it, the idea of drawing on a card doesn’t bother me at all
The Six Greetings Card Games fill a niche I didn’t realise was there. We give cards for one reason or another all throughout the year, and what happens to them? They stand on a shelf or sideboard for a week, then they get dropped in the recycling. What these games do is give the recipient something fun to do for significantly longer than the ten seconds it normally takes to read a pithy pre-printed message.
The crazy thing is that the games are good. Not ‘good for a game on a card’, or ‘good for a game that costs a couple of quid’. Good, good. Will you be playing it in years to come? No, at the end of the day it’s a greetings card, after all. But these are games that are meant to be played, enjoyed, and eventually recycled too. I don’t know about you, but I’d remember a card that gave me a fun time for a few hours much more than one that doesn’t.
Let’s not forget the most important part of a greetings card – the greeting. Every game has plenty of space to write a heartfelt message, or a joke about someone’s age. Fitting all of this on a card with a board, tokens to play with, and instructions, is nothing short of genius. Ellie has proven, again, that independent game designers and publishers can – and do – come up with very good games, and they deserve your attention. The really crazy thing is that these cards work out to be £3 each… That’s the same price as a normal card in a lot of places. Why would you not give one of these instead?
If you have a gamer in your life, just get them. It’s as simple as that. They’ll be glad you did.
The Kickstarter for Six Greetings Card Games goes live on Tuesday 8th March 2022. Go check it out.
Review copies kindly provided by The Dark Imp. Thoughts and opinions are my own.