Tabletop games have existed in one form or another for thousands of years, dating back to race games like the Royal Game of Ur where you must attempt to move all your pieces off the board before your opponent can. A simple but still highly strategic and varied game whose rules we only now grasp thanks to the translation of a complicated Cuneiform tablet made from clay.

Fast forward several thousand years to 2020 CE where, as part of my BCM300 classes, I’m taking part in some gameplay sessions where everyone in the class is placed into groups and we all pick out different games we want to play. For the first week, we played (in the following order):

– Throw Throw Burrito

– Exploding Kittens

Love Letter

Rather than talking about each one in detail, I will talk about the first two briefly (as we didn’t get to fully understand or finish Love Letter) as well as my general opinion of how the game went overall.

Throw Throw Burrito

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(Photo credit: BoardGameGeek)

Genre: Party / Casual
Target audience: Ages 7-8 and up
Published: Self-Published / Exploding Kittens ‘label’
Designers: Matthew Inman, Elan Lee & Brian S. Spence
Artists: Matthew Inman & Elan Lee
Board Game Geek complexity rating: 1.06 out of 5

This was by far the most dynamic game we played in Week One, mostly due to its emphasis on fast-paced real-time gameplay as well as the physical elements…like throwing a burrito at someone (Hey, at least it does what it says on the tin)! In short, Throw Throw Burrito is what happens when you mix a card-matching game with high school foodfight pandemonium. While I wasn’t particularly a fan of the game’s cutesy art-style – finding it too similar to Inman & Lee’s other work (see Exploding Kittens) – I couldn’t deny that the chaotic nature of the game matched its aggressively silly art-style and humour quite well.

However, while the four of us who played were able to get into the game quite quickly after a brief explanation of the rules, the real-time gameplay led to confusing card switching and illegal burrito throws. Arguably, adhering as explicitly as possible to the rules and mechanics isn’t the focus of the game at all and is more about just being silly and considering that all four of us at the table were giggling like idiots almost the entire time we were playing, it accomplished that goal in spades.

Exploding Kittens

ExplodingKittens-BGGPhoto1

(Photo credit: BoardGameGeek)

Genre: Party / Casual
Target audience: Ages 7-8 and up
Published: Self-Published / Exploding Kittens ‘label’
Designers / Artists: Matthew Inman, Elan Lee & Shane Small
Board Game Geek complexity rating: 1.07 out of 5

Despite only having a complexity rating only .01 higher than Throw Throw Burrito, I find Exploding Kittens to be much more mechanically rich and methodical than said game about burritos. I’ve played Exploding Kittens a number of times before with friends and have picked up some of the nuances like bluffing and indirect observation (e.g. someone using a See the Future card to see the top three cards of the deck then using a skip card – is there an exploding kitten on the top or are they bluffing?). My criticism of the game’s outlandish humour is similar to that of Throw Throw Burrito in that I don’t find it particularly funny but at the same time it does put you in the right state of mind to not take the game too seriously.

I’m running out of time here, so I’ll just quickly go over the genre which we examined in Week Two: the Hidden Identities genre.

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(Photo credit: see credits below)

In short, there are good guys and bad guys, the bad guys are trying to stop the good guys from winning – but the twist is that the bad guys can’t let the good guys know who they are; otherwise the good guys won’t let the bad guys go missions that they’ll fail on purpose. It’s a genre centered around deduction and deceit, with many prominent examples like Mafia, Secret Hitler, and the two games we looked at, The Resistance: Avalon and Ultimate Werewolf.

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The secret identities genre is pretty saturated at this point, and it takes something special for one to stand out. For example, Ultimate Werewolf stood out to me for having a limited number of tactile pieces – you have a hidden card saying whether you’re a werewolf or not and that’s it. But it’s the adjucator who gives thematic relevance and intrigue to the game, and attempts (emphasis on attempts) to keep all the players on track. It actually bears striking similarity to a very stripped-back Dungeons and Dragons campaign where the players create the scenario dynamically as they play, with more and more villagers (and maybe werewolves) being unceremoniously executed for the terrible crime of looking slightly suspicious.

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From the vaguely dark Ultimate Werewolf which gives new meaning to the words suspicion and distrust all the way down to the hyper-casual Throw Throw Burrito with its absurd humour and flying Mexican wraps, games achieve their uniqueness from how they integrate their baseline mechanics, which have been borrowed and adapted from previous tabletop experiences, into settings and themes that grab hold of their players’ attentions and imaginations which in turn have also been appropriated from the real world and other stories.

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The tribe has spoken.

Credits:

Throw Throw Burrito’s BGG page: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/274533/throw-throw-burrito-original-edition
Exploding Kittens’ BGG page: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/172225/exploding-kittens
Gameplay session photos (Ultimate Werewolf): https://digijas.com/