Oh my god! You are such a dick!
Hope you have lube!
Let's just make his a*****e big enough to drive a truck through.
Why would you do that to me?
Did you just s*** on him?
I'm still s******* on (him).
I hate politics, but I love this game.
This is more evil than murder.
Let's play again!
Following Origins 2007, we had a couple of gaming groups review Mudslinger. One group of hardcore gamers moderated what was known as The Spewgilist Forum (if I remember correctly) and not only did they review the game, they awarded us with a "Spewgie Award" for best new card game of the convention. We were humbled. Here, in all its glory is the review they posted.
One of the things I had noted during our Origins 2005 coverage was the continued emergence of small press or self published game companies. When I first got into the gaming industry in the 1970's, this was all the rage. If you had access to a copier machine, you were in business. Now in the new millennium we are seeing the small and self published companies able to bring to market quite sophisticated products.
The folks from Mudslinger were at Origins this year with their game Mudslinger. After talking with them and getting some basic information about the company, born in 2004 through the efforts of Matt and Pamela Dawson, we asked to take one of the games to demo. We'll always ask for a game to demo from a small or self published company, but we don't keep them unless we pay for them. It's our way of remaining unbiased even as we admire the efforts of the people who are taking a risk to bring their dreams to life.
Game Type: Card and Dice
Number of Players: 3-6
Solo Play Ability: None
Playing Time: 90 minutes
When I saw the description of the game, I was intrigued. OK, I admit, I got chills.
"Lie, cheat, steal, and backstab your way to victory as you attempt to win the most votes and become the next President of the United States."
And really, how could you not want to dive into a game like that?
The game starts with all players getting a presidential candidate. This is random and, in my less than humble opinion, a key element to the game. The five (5) political spectrums represented are, from left to right:
When there are six people playing, the "Insert Your Name Here" candidate comes into play. This candidate can be any of the political affiliations, giving the opportunity for a split in the base of support.
Why make the presidential candidates random? So you get to watch people from one political arena play for another political arena to win. Sometimes they do so with resignation, me, I preferred to do so with sarcasm and spit. I know, I know, that's so unexpected. As every card is a direct and humorous jab at someone, being thin skinned in this game will just make you a target for everyone else, just to distract you so that you play poorly and they get to do the victory dance.
Determine who will go first. I recommend a push-up contest because politics ain't for wimps. You can flip a coin, arm wrestle, spit watermelon seeds, tell 'your momma' jokes, or even roll dice
It's important to remember, you cannot hold supporter cards. You must either play them or discard them. How then do you stop a player from taking advantage of a wonderful card you just cannot use? Place an action card on top of it. This seals it away, annoys your opponent, and may even have a benefit for you. That last part is nice but it is option two which is critical.
It's also important to watch out for campaign managers. They help you take states and you can have as many as you want, barring someone playing an action card against you and stealing them away, as did my ingrate of a son. The other card that aid you in acquiring states is the VP card. There are only five (5) so in a six (6) player game there is an added cut-throat element. The liberals and conservatives have two (2) VP candidates each, the Independents one (1). There are no VPs for the two extreme presidential candidates. They have to, if they are lucky, draw a compatible candidate.
How can a candidate that does not match your party affiliation join you? As long as they are no more than one (1) political affiliation either left or right of you, they can join your campaign. The same is true of financial supporters, but with an interesting twist. For instance, if you are the Militant Candidate, you can have a conservative supporter. The conservative supporter would allow you to have an Independent supporter. The independent supporter lets you have a Liberal supporter and the Liberal supporter gives you access to the Peaceful supporter. But should you ever lose any one of the folks in the chain, you discard supporters until you can match a compatible supporter within your chain. It can really cause some people to go from powerful and cash rich to puny and in the poorhouse in a single turn.
Each state has an acquisition number on it for each political alignment. You must roll that number or lower on three dice to acquire the state and put it in your electoral college vault of future domination. That's more of my pet name than an official name, but, and I am sure you agree, it does have a certain ring to it.
What to do then when the acquisition number for your political alignment is too low? Hey, this is politics, when you have absolutely no chance of winning, you spend wads of cash to unduly influence the voters and corrupt the political system... I mean provide relevant information to the voting populace to allow them to make an intelligent and informed decision and comprehend that your candidacy is critical for the well being of the country and their social consciousness.
Ahhhh, the smell of bullshit. No wonder I loved this game. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Action cards can affect the outcome of state acquisition and other players can aid or thwart you. At the start of the game folks don't have a lot of support, so most of the acquisition rolls are straight dice. As the game progresses and you collect more supporters and generate more cash and get more access to action cards, things get a bit tight, uncomfortable, loud, and seconds are called in to arrange things the next morning.
That's when it goes from fun to "IN YOUR FACE BITCH!" fun. Admit it, that's what you live for.
Every time a state is acquired it is replaced with a new state from the deck, but there are never more than four (4) states available at any one time. Sometimes you'll have a run of low value states, sometimes mid-range values will pop out and folks will go crazy. When the high value states come into play, well, then things get very interesting. And by interesting I mean vicious, mean spirited, conniving, and, well, mean. Just what I like.
The game plays until all state cards have been acquired. Once the last state has been taken, the players count up their totals and the winner gets to do the happy dance and request adulation from the losers. It's just a request, of course, but I'm suggesting that you toss in some cash deposits that people only get back once they fulfill the loser conditions. After all, they are losers, it's best to remind them of it.
The play style of Mudslinger is great. Anyone, through cash, action cards, or negotiation, can affect anyone else. There's an element of chaos in the game, but an edge of the seat, "Dear God, just let me pull this off. . . you friggin' bastard how dare you!" sort of chaos. We played the game, fought and laughed and cajoled and cursed and had a hell of a great time. At $20, the game is a steal. So much of a steal that I could not give it back and when we went to talk with the Mudslinger crew the next day, I, Pugilist, cheap-ass bastard that I am, actually cracked open my wallet and handed over real US cash. I know, I know, the second seal of the Apocalypse has been opened. My abject fake apologies.