Button Shy's Wallet Games

I had a more enjoyable game of Ragemore just now (it has the benefit of being quick to play, so I’m giving it a chance to grow on me). This was largely on account of things going badly and forcing me to make a lot of unwanted plays just in order to stay alive, and so it was quite satisfying to pull out a win at the end.

If more than two cards are “killed” during the game you lose. I had one card dead early on, and was about to play the card that lets you resurrect a dead card, when I realised that I couldn’t play that card (because it matched the top suit of both quests), which meant that… I had to kill that card instead, without using its ability. So instead of the graveyard being back to zero cards, it now had the maximum two, including the only card which could get cards out of the graveyard.

Much of the rest of the game was me trying to avoid the seemingly-endless stream of things which were going to kill a card : )

I had strong cards for “fighting” (which is more “turning enemies into allies” in this game), and so this did let me add most of the would-be “kill a card” enemies to my own party – but this meant that almost no cards were going into the quest piles at all – and the only way to win involves fulfilling quest requirements.

In the end there were just enough cards I could get through into the quests, and the sheer size and variety of my own party allowed me to fulfil quests far more easily than normal (which has a side effect of cycling cards from my party back into the draw pile, which was permanently on the brink of emptying and losing me the game towards the end), and in the end the balance was just on my side.

If the game was always like that, it would be quite good : )

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It certainly does look pretty, so I was hoping to hear good things about it. It’s a shame when the art is really nice but the game is disappointing. Oh well.

I’m hoping that Unsurmountable will be good. I think Food Chain Island is neat, so I’m curious to see what else Scott Almes does with the format, and it seems like it might have a similar elegant simplicity about it. (Has anyone played Ugly Gryphon Inn? It’s his other solo wallet game. The cards look kinda busy/fiddly, but my interest is piqued.)

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Unsurmountable print-and-play at PNP Arcade is good value at $0.00.

I understand the game has five difficulty levels, which range from trivially simple to virtually impossible, which is nice to see in a solo game.

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I am also interested in this one!

It hasn’t been mentioned here much, but Skulls of Sedlec is one of the best of the wallet games that I’ve played so far. I’ve only played it solo (which requires the “Monstrance” expansion), and I also have the “Castle Guards” and “Executioners” expansions, both of which provide enjoyable variations on the puzzle.

Tom talked about it in his video and I’d recommend checking out the base version via PNP if you’re on the fence.

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Oh, I didn’t realise he was so prolific a designer. Along with numerous other things, it looks like he designs the “Tiny Epic” series of games. I guess the Wallet Games series allows him to focus more on the Tiny than the Epic : )

Besides Food Chain Island, Martian Dice is the only game of his that I’ve played (and it’s another tiny thing which punches well above its weight). I’m even more interested in his output for this series now.

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After exactly one game of Hierarchy w/ solo Emissary expansion I think it feels quite similar to Food Chain Island. The process is different, but in both games you win by achieving a valid numeric-ish sequence of all the main cards, each of which has some kind of unique ability which affects the basic rules when you use it, and you have a random side-selection of extra cards (“Edicts”) which are something like a combination of the friendly waters and tough skies cards of FCI (they each have their own unique ability which you can employ one time at any point of the game and, depending on difficulty, you must use a certain number of them).

The set-up (with the deck split into two alternating hands of cards) is more complex than FCI, and the game doesn’t have the spatial element and perfect information of FCI (rather than your moves being restricted by card adjacency, this game limits your moves by only having three cards in each of the hands at a time), but the end result and planning feels similar to me.

There are similarities with Elevenses For One as well, which is an even tinier card game about putting a random arrangement of eleven cards into order whilst navigating the unique rules of each one. I guess I quite enjoy this style of puzzle. (My main reason for picking up a bunch of these Wallet Games was because I was permanently carrying EFO in my jacket pocket, and having additional similarly-portable options appealed to me.)

Hierarchy isn’t a dedicated solo game, and you have to read the regular rules as well as the solo rules, so I feel that I was up and running with those other games more quickly than I was with this one; but that’s just relative – as with all the wallet games, it’s a lightweight rule set, and pretty straightforward once you start playing. Tom didn’t particularly like this as a two-player game, but the card design issue he was most vocal about isn’t such a factor in the solo game (the writing remains small, but nothing is ever upside down); and as something to puzzle your way through without having to worry about how long your turn is taking, I think this kind of game works well.

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Hierarchy might be my current favorite of the Buttonshy games. It’s a very straightforward flow with some crunchy decisions.

I’ve only played it solo, and it might not be as good 2-player.

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So this has actually grown on me more. Once you get past the fact that it’s a completely abstract game… there’s a bit of a hook here. The speed of set-up and play is a definite factor (it’s extremely easy to fit in a game of this) as is the “train factor” (i.e. having established that I can make this compact enough to play on the train* : )

So I’m still playing this, and I think not moving it to the discard pile after all.

It is one of those games that I almost never lose, though (not quite to the extent of The Maiden In The Forest, but the win ratio is extremely high). Per those earlier comments this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it still seems worth noting.


(*) It’s a bit marginal – but with my laptop to play on top of, and if I hold the completed quest cards in my hand, it’s completely do-able. I think my most compact train game is one of the solo Cribbage variants I play, as my tiny portable crib board isn’t in danger of sliding away, and I only have to deal with a couple of hands of cards at a time.

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4 new expansions for Skulls of Sedlec, including a new solo expansion (distinct from Monstrance).

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/239309591/skulls-of-sedlec-expansion-collection

I don’t see myself ignoring this, so that leaves me… up to 2 games + 2 expansions I could add without bumping up the cost of shipping (and I already know I want Unsurmountable).

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