I don't play a lot of card games these days. I'm used to Crazy Eight and other traditional card games. When I get Torches & Pitchforks to review, I shudder a little. I've had a few bad experiences with card games that are fancy with their printed rules and everything.
Well, I read the rules, invited my mom and girlfriend to play and had a pretty good time. I decided that if normal people could play it and have fun, what would role players be like? Well, two of my amigos and I played a hand and it was much more intense. They caught up on the subtle tactics much quicker than the 'norms' did and were much more willing to lay out the cards to screw one another over.
So what is this game? It's broken up into three decks, Townsfolk, Mobs, and Monsters. Each player gets six townsfolk and five Mob cards to start with. These are your mob. I know, you get a mob and there are Mob cards right? The Mobs are cards that range from weapons to arm your mob with, to events to strengthen monsters. Good stuff where a clever player can make a strong opponent quickly lose a match against a monster. Now the Monster deck has not only monsters, but events. These events are crucial to keeping the game moving and fair.
When starting, you have five mob cards but can't play the good ones. You can always play action cards, cards that let you mess with other players, but the good cards, like extra townsfolk or weapons, have to be played latter. Now the problem here is that you're weak at first and have to flee from the monsters, which requires the loss of Mob cards. As the game goes on and your mob gains Townsfolk and weapons, you get strong. That's where the monster events come into play. Some of them take away leaders, others take away weapons. This helps balance the game quickly and randomly.
The game goes through only five short phases:
1.Draw: If you don't have five Mob deck cards, you can draw.
2.Attack: Draw a card from the Monster deck. You can fight it or flee. To overcome it, your power, including all weapons and enhancements, has to be higher than it's power. By the way, it's power rating also doubles as how many points it's worth. To win, you need thirty points. If you fail to overcome the monster then you suffer a loss based on it's kill strength.
3.Hunt: Let's say you didn't attack and ran away. Well, that monster you ran from goes into the Moor. You can go hunting in the Moor by randomly drawing a card. It's not a bad deal if you have a guide to the Moor and can select your card but otherwise it's just as dangerous as fighting the thing you ran from the first time.
4.Recoup: Ah, at long last, you get to play your enhancement cards, the ones you may have picked up in the draw phase. You also get to reclaim one Townsfolk if you have any dead.
5.Discard: Get rid of any mob cards you don't want.
It's a pretty simple game and goes fast. While the box states 30-60 minutes, most of mine lasted 20-30 minutes. Probably takes much longer with the higher number of players. The art is humorous and the spoofs of famous monsters are easy to spot.
There were a few problems I had with the set though. The first, is that to flee, you need to roll a six sided die and discard that many Mob cards. Well, the mechanic is sound but the $24.95 game doesn't include a d6. Next, all of the cards have the same color backing, so you have to separate them when you play because you may get Mob cards that are Townsfolk. It's also a pain to put them away as there are no separate compartments. My girlfriend and one of my role playing friends thought the cards were hard to read. Most of us didn't have that problem, but I can see where the issue would come form as the letter is kind of gothic black on gray background.
It's a fun little game and I'll enjoy playing it again and hope that they come out with some expansion packs for the monsters. After all, why should only the classics be spoofed?