Monday, June 5, 2017

Trash Pandas Kickstarter Preview


The deepness of night settles over a small suburban neighborhood. Houses remain darkened as their occupants get what rest they can before the sun rises and a new day begins. Outside, the solitude shatters as trash cans crash against the hard concrete, intentionally knocked over by the local thieves that stalk the night.

Trash Pandas, the notorious garbage-munching gang of raccoons, search the humans’ rubbish bins for precious foodstuffs and other shiny items. Only by securing the most valuable discards will one raccoon rise above the rest. After all, one man’s trash is another Trash Panda’s treasure.

Fast Facts:
Designers: Michael Eskue, Lisa Eskue
Artist: Kwanchai Moriya
Publisher: Red Rook Games
Players: 2-4
Age: 10+
Playtime: 20 Minutes

Heads Up: This is a preview for Trash Pandas. As such, rules and components are subject to change before final release.

Objective
In Trash Pandas, players push their luck in order to stash the best food that the local trashcans have to offer. Players earn points by stashing cards in front of them, trying to get a majority of a variety of foods and other objects in order to score the most points possible. When the deck of cards runs out, the game is over, and the player with the most points wins the game.

Setup
The first player starts with two cards, and the second, third, and fourth players start with three, four, and five cards respectively. Place the six tokens in the middle of the play area, give the first player the die, and let the looting begin.

Setup is a cinch!

Gameplay
On each turn, a player will:
  1. Roll the die 
  2. Resolve tokens
Rolling the Die
The player rolling the die takes the token that matches the die result.

Roll a paw, take a paw!

After a token is taken, the player may choose to continue rolling or decide to stop. If the player continues to roll, he will continue to take the tokens matching his die results as they come. If that player rolls a result that has already been taken, that player busts and does not get to resolve any of the previously claimed tokens. Instead, the busted player draws one card as consolation.

After rolling a paw, you realize you already have that token. Oh no! You bust.

Resolving Tokens
If a player chooses to stop before busting, he may resolve his collected tokens in any order he deems worthy. (Note: if a player collects all six tokens during the first phase, that player may then take a bonus turn of up to three rolls, and thereby three extra tokens.) Resolving tokens is optional, so don’t feel like you have to use one if you’d rather not.

Cards also have special abilities on them and can be discarded from a player’s hand as action cards. However, this sends them to the discard pile where they are lost and may not join your stash (unless you have a “Feesh” card, which allows you to pilfer a card from the discard pile).

Game End
The game ends after the turn in which the last card has been drawn. Each card has numbers on the upper left corner, indicating how many points players may be awarded. In the example below, the card “Mmm Pie!” has a 6, 2, and a 1 located in the upper left corner of the card. Translated, this means the player with the most “Mmm Pie!” cards receives 6 points, the player with the second most cards of that variety receives 2 points, and the third-most player receives just 1 point. In a 4-player game, the remaining player would receive nothing for their efforts.

Looks good enough to eat!

Points are tallied in this manner for each type of card until all points are accounted for, at which time a winner is crowned and they may feast on their spoils (personally, I don’t recommend eating any of the cards—or foods depicted on said cards—but you know, to each his own).

In this example, a 2-player game just ended. The top player would score the most points for their Nanners, Shiny, and Yum Yum cards, and would take second for Mmm Pie! cards. The bottom player receives the most points for Mmm Pie! and Feesh, and a Blammo is worth 1 point for each of those cards stashed at the end of the game. Only the player with the most Nanners gets points for that card; everyone else is out of luck. The end score would be as follows: Top player: 16 points. Bottom Player: 12 points. The top player wins!






















Review
Trash Pandas is a wonderful push-your-luck game. There’s just something about making raccoons dig through rubbish without coming up broke that fills me with both fear and excitement. I know every roll could be my last, and with each subsequent roll my odds of failure are higher and higher. And yet, on I roll. I just can’t stop!

Here are some reasons why I enjoy Trash Pandas:

Short and Without Runaways
I find I quite enjoy push-your-luck games, and Trash Pandas is no exception. It’s short enough that if I fail completely, the game won’t drag on with me hopelessly trying to make a comeback. Of course, I have yet to fall that far behind, which makes the game that much better. Runaway winners are never fun, but I found that even if you think you’re playing like rubbish, there’s still a good chance of coming out ahead (it’s happened).

Luck Mitigation
While it can be frustration to simply roll a die and be forced to accept a result, Trash Pandas makes up for that with special abilities on specific cards. Sure, it could do me well to stash one of those cards for points at the end of the game, but if I hold on to it, I can use it to reroll my last result or ignore my last roll completely. It’s the luck mitigation in this game that really solidifies Trash Pandas as an enjoyable game for me.

Quirky Cards
The cards certainly add a fun flavor to the game. The names of the cards bring a lighthearted humor to the mix, and the artwork thereon is not a whit behind in wittiness (I often catch myself smirking with mirthful satisfaction as I read the names of the cards aloud).

There isn’t much about Trash Pandas that would keep me from playing. A few things, however, may be an issue for some, although they are not necessarily negative aspects of the game, just personal preference.

There’s a bit of “take that” involved in the game, including forcing your opponent to reroll. This can be a downer for some, especially when it all but forces you to bust. But there aren’t a lot of cards that hurt an opponent’s chances, and even if they do come up, there’s always the question of stashing them over playing them. Likewise, Trash Pandas is luck-driven, which in a longer game might not be ideal, but considering the type of game it is, it works nicely.

Final Verdict
Trash Pandas is easy to learn, quick to set up, and fast to play. The speedy nature of the game makes it an ideal filler game. There aren’t many components and it doesn’t take up too much table space, which also makes it a great travel companion.

The push-your-luck aspect is a huge part of Trash Pandas, and since I get a kick out of trying to beat the odds, I certainly enjoy this game (even when I bust). All in all, it’s a solid choice, and I would not shy away if it was an option at game night.

Overall, I give Trash Pandas a 7/10. The luck factor knocks it down for me a bit (personal preference), but despite that, it's still a very enjoyable game which I would recommend.

Note: Trash Pandas is one of five finalists in Hasbro’s Gaming Lab Contest, which shows how much work, time, and effort has been put into this game. It has already made a successful run on Indiegogo, and I recommend checking it out when it hits Kickstarter in the near future. 

Check out Trash Pandas on:

            

Coming to Kickstarter soon!

About the Author:



Benjamin Kocher hails from Canada but now lives in Utah with his wife and kids. He’s a copywriter, social media manager, freelance blogger, and SFF author. When he’s not writing, Benjamin loves to lose himself in the wonderful world of tabletop games, especially those with a rich, engaging theme. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminKocher and read his board game-inspired fiction at BenjaminKocher.com.

2 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Their first go was on IndieGoGo, their next will be on Kickstarter.

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