Homebrew tabletop mashups

I have many clever and creative friends who like games. One or another of them will regularly host game-playing gatherings at their homes, where we sink a few hours or more into various tabletop contests. But sometimes, some of these clever and creative people will find themselves a little tired of the well-worn titles, and that's when the combinatory experimentation starts.

quiddler_texas_holdem.jpgI took this photo last weekend, during one such event. The card-based word game Quiddler (published by Set Enterprises) is an old favorite of many-perhaps-most of my gamer friends. My pal Marc, one of the weekend-long game-gathering's hosts, led a groggy Sunday-morning group in inventing the mashup of Quiddler and Texas Hold Em depicted here. Players each held two of Quiddler's letter-cards, and as community cards appeared according to the standard flop-turn-river pattern, players bet on wether they held the highest-scoring Quiddler hand. This photo shows the final round's winning hand in the lower left; it allowed Marc to spell ZITHERS.

One especially memorable mashup I enjoyed several years ago, via the same group of friends, was "Apples to Ideas", a collision of the increasingly well-known party game Apples to Apples (Out of the Box Publishing) with the rather more obscure party game The Big Idea (Cheapass Games). It essentially involved pitching pairs of the green and red apple cards instead of using the standard Big Idea cards, and otherwise playing according to the The Big Idea's rules, which involves rapid-fire pitching of cockamamie startup-company ideas based on the cards you play. We found that this not only led to a much larger pool of cards, but players had to get more creative coming up with (at least vaguely) legitimate-sounding business models based on cards not tuned for this purpose. During this one game, I scored big by playing the card pair [Industrious] [Industrial Revolution], selling it with the slogan The socioeconomic paradigm shift so nice, we named it twice!™

Have you seen, pondered, or even invented and playtested any game-mashup ideas, yourself?

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3 Responses to Homebrew tabletop mashups

  1. Andrew Plotkin says:

    The all-time winner from my gaming past was WizwaRally.

    Set up your Roborally boards, set up your robots, deal out the hands of program cards. Then add hands of Wizwar spells. You can put down one spell card per program phase -- rotate it to indicate "forward", "backward", "left", or "right". Spells fire after lasers.

    You'll have to do a fair amount of rules improvisation. Results are absurd. Do not expect highly strategic play, even by Roborally standards.

    Be sure to treat the board-edges as wrapping, Wizwar-style. It decreases the number of deaths by bottomless pit -- but there's plenty of new death to make up for it, believe me. Plus, it increases the chance that your laser -- or spell -- will wrap and hit you in the back.

  2. Adjusting says:

    In university my friends and I played Trivial Pursuit Monopoly, where in order to buy a property, you had to first correctly answer a trivia question.

  3. I thought I liked RISK, inasmuch as I had played RISK 2210 a fair bit and seen the ways in which it was superior (more dependent on forward-thinking than chance, more balanced, able to be played in non-geological units of time).

    But then I found that some friends of mine had devised what they called "Metaverse RISK," played with the interconnected boards and pieces and rulebooks of Classic RISK, RISK 2210, and RISK Godstorm. I told them that was crazy, but looking back, all my criticisms sounded like suggestions for making this travesty play better, rather than just reasons to abandon the project. So I think I must have liked the idea too. I also think that we like making things, we gamers.

    Personally, the instances that I remember coming closest to this impulse have all been with "roleplaying games." I once adapted the standalone game Breaking the Ice to be a game-agnostic mechanic for generating a fictional context for the player's characters to be "adventuring" together. And those several times when I tried to make a new and self-contained game, I inevitably start with one or more games or parts of games that seem to lend itself to the idea. It seems like many other designers work similarly, with the border between Mashup/Shakeup/Spiceup and New Product often being a little vague.

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