The internet has brought us many things since its time began. Social media is exploding, thanks to sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and – way back in the day – MySpace. We’ve been given powerhouse websites like Google, Yahoo, and YouTube. But the internet is more than just a collection of websites. The internet has also given us things like emojis, memes … and the ever-present troll. With the popularity of internet memes, it’s a bit surprising that no one has made a game that centers around them – until now.
Coming November 1, 2016 to Kickstarter is Game of Trolls, a card game for 3-6 players (ages 7+) that can be played in 15 – 45 minutes and encourages players to awaken their inner troll with their favorite memes in an epic card game battle. Let’s look at how the game works.
The setup for Game of Trolls is incredibly simple. Shuffle the deck of cards and deal each player seven cards. Set the remaining cards in the center of the table, within reach of all of the players, to form the draw pile. That’s it. In Game of Trolls, you will work to discard all of the cards from your hand – kind of like Uno – before all of the other players do the same. How do you remove cards from your hand? Let’s look at gameplay.
The dealer will act as the first player for the first game, and play will continue clockwise. On your turn, you will play a card from your hand and follow any instructions on that card. Cards can also be discarded as pairs (two of a kind – regardless of direction on red cards). If you choose to discard a pair of cards, their actions are ignored. If you played a gold card, once you have followed the instructions on the card, you MUST play another card. A gold card can never be the last card that you play on your turn. If you cannot play another card, you must draw a card from the top of the draw pile and add it to your hand. On your turn, you are not required to play a card. However, if you opt to not play a card, then you must draw a card. Drawing a card ends you turn, and play moves to the next player. Play continues until one player has discarded or played all of the cards from his or her hand. That player wins and is crowned the troll. The loser of the game is the person who has the most cards in his or her hand at the end. If there is a tie for loser, the winner decides who is the official loser – the nerd.
Being crowned the troll of the game leads to perks that you can use in subsequent games. There are three tiers of perks for you to earn. Each time you win, you go up one tier. These wins do not need to be consecutive wins in order for you to gain the next perk. The nerd also gets perks because, as the rules state, “it sucks to suck.” What are the perks that are up for grabs?
After your first win, you gain the ability to choose the first player for the next game. When you are crowned troll for the second time, you gain the ability to have two players (including yourself) swap hands with each other, or you can trade your entire hand in for seven new cards. The third tier (your third win) will give you the ability to deal two extra cards to a single player (or one extra card each to two different players). These perks stack, meaning that once you have won your third game, you will have all three special abilities.
After you lose for the first time, you will be able to – once per game – look at any three cards in the deck and choose to move them to the bottom of the deck. After your second loss, you can choose to switch the direction of play once per game (at the end of your turn). Finally, when you lose your third game, you can select one player at the start of the next game. That player must draw a card each time it is the troll’s turn to play. As with the troll perks, these perks stack – allowing you to gain up to three special abilities to make things more difficult for your opponents.
The game has four types of cards, defined by color. Let’s break them down a bit.
Green cards do not contain any instructions on them. These cards can only be discarded as a pair of the same card. For example, if you have two green cards in your hand that both have the same face on them, you can discard both cards as a single play. If, however, the two green cards in your hand have different faces, you must hold both of them in your hand (because you can’t discard either card).
Red cards are used to attack other players. They can be used to force opponents to draw more cards or lose turns. Attacking another player never changes the direction of play. When playing a red (attack) card, your target is determined by the spear in the upper left corner of the card. The attack occurs in the direction the spear is pointing (either left or right) and attacks the player in that direction. If the card has two spears on it, you select your target (either the player immediately to your left or your right). If the card shows four spears, you can select any opponent as the target of the attack.
Blue cards act as your defense cards and help protect you against attacks from your opponents. These cards can only be played in reaction to an attack. Some blue cards reflect the attack back at the attacker or cause the attack to skip you and hit the next player in line. Playing a blue card will never change the direction of play, and you cannot play a blue card to counter an attack that has already been countered. Playing a blue card also does not count as your turn. Be warned: if you have lost your turn as the result of an attack, you cannot play any blue cards either. This can leave you extremely vulnerable to subsequent attacks.
The gold cards in the game always involve multiple players. When a gold card is played, do whatever the cards says to do. Gold cards are played and resolved one at a time, and they do not end your turn. You must always play another card after you have played (and resolved) a gold card. If you can’t play a second card, you must draw a card.
Game of Trolls is a very easy to learn and play game. It is fast and allows you to get through a game in as little as 1o or 15 minutes. This makes it a good option as a filler game, and even allows for a few plays before you pick up the next heavier game on your game night schedule.
That being said, I have a few problems with the game. The biggest problem is that the meme theme feels pasted onto the game. What I mean by this is that if you remove the meme art from the cards, the gameplay itself does not change at all. The game would play exactly the same no matter what art was on the cards – or if the cards had no art on them at all. The game also has some rules – and cards – that are a bit unclear. The rulebook refers to “playing” a card, but in the context of the game some cards seem to be played by being discarded (green cards, for example), while others (some gold cards) seem like they need to remain on the table for a few turns. While these slight confusions didn’t effect the games I played too much, I can see how some that are new to gaming could have difficulty getting into the game. The game is also still being developed, so some of these rules will most likely get clarified during editing.
Overall, Game of Trolls is an approachable game that will easily appeal to those who enjoy family-type card games like Uno, Skip-Bo, and Phase 10. The game will launch on Kickstarter on Tuesday, November 1. If you act quickly, you’ll be able to get your hands on a copy for $15. Later pledges will be $20, and the game is expected to sell for $30 once it hits retail. You can click over to the game’s web page and sign up to be notified when the Kickstarter launches. As an added bonus, one copy of the game will be given away each week to a lucky subscriber.