Room Party: The Game

Room parties and playing games with friends and strangers are two of the best things you can do at a convention. Recognising this, a group of geeks got together to create their own card game that’s all about the best (and worst) things that happen at convention room parties. Playing a card might summon a neck-beard wearing cardboardinium armour to your party or maybe a D-list celebrity carrying some suspicious looking drinks will show up at the door – it’s all part of Room Party: The Game.

This project came out of a successful Kickstarter campaign and the game has only just started appearing in the hands of Kickstarter backers and at a few select conventions that the game creators have been attending. At Confurgence* in Melbourne, the artist duo known as Blotch were showing off this game and we were lucky enough to try it out a couple times. It’s a competitive game, where it’s every party for themselves. Your goal is to maximise your own awesome score, while also damaging the awesome score of other parties by stealing their best people, turning their tricks against them or throwing unpleasant cards their way.

One of the great bits of mechanism design in this game is that players will tend to use the cards they play to tell stories. Playing their cards, someone might say: “the dance party DJ (person card) comes into the room, wearing a tail (item card) and carrying an armful of booze (item card.)” This is followed by: “a pungent smell dominates the room as the creeper joins your party, causing the DJ to sneak across the hall and join my party.” Most of the interactions are straightforward, giving you either positive or negative amounts of awesome and nifty bit of flavour text. There’s the occasional twist though; a Kickstarter exclusive was the Candy From A Stranger card, which had you flip a coin to find out its effects. (Pro tip: In real life, Candy From A Stranger is pretty much always a negative to your awesome. Don’t take it.) In our play sessions, only a few cards rating were contested. For instance, why is that a pet tiger (potential mauling aside) give you -2 awesome while a fedora is a +1 awesome? Your milage may vary.

The decisions are generally easy to make, so turns go around the circle at a good pace. Essentially, players have three basic actions they can play during their turn; put down cards in their party, put down cards in another party or discard cards they don’t think are useful. Between this and the fact that your cards are determined by luck, there’s only really one strategy, the skill cap is low and it’s easy to play optimally. The only trick is to look around at other parties and keep track of who the biggest scorers are (since this requires mental addition) and take them down a few pegs. But again, your ability to do so is limited by the random cards you draw. It’ll be interesting to see how this game would play out over the long term. Smart players might constantly keep the scores level, ensuring no other player can take a significant lead. But really, this isn’t a game you play to win. It’s more a game you play just to tell some silly stories with your friends. If you happen to win, hey, that’s a plus.

The game benefits from some smart visual design and the base deck of cards have a neat watercolour art style, even if it is a little bit plain at times. This is kind of surprising as the artist, Mandi Tremblay, has a super stylish and colourful Deviantart gallery. What really stood out though, were the furry expansion cards by Blotch, which were both highly detailed and expressive. This is a perfect game to bring along to conventions to play in line, to kick off a room party or as part of a card gaming night. This isn’t meant to be a game you play all night – but it’s certainly makes a good first impression with new players since you can teach it in a couple of minutes and it gets people talking and laughing. To that end, Room Party: The Game hits its goal of being a game about social interaction bang on the nail and would make fit nicely between games of Cards Against Humanity and Munchkin.

Room Party comes out February 22nd and is available for preorder now.