I got the Jolly Roger games yesterday and the first one I tried was Nodwick: The Card Game. The title is necessary, because Nodwick is originally a web comic by Aaron Williams. That means, of course, that the game has rather decent graphics.
The game, designed by Frank Branham (the author of the brilliant Dia de los Muertos), can trace it’s roots back to early 20th century. It’s descended from Pit, the manic trading game from 1919. Only this time players aren’t trading for commodities…
Players take part in the Henchgames. Unfortunately, the competitors didn’t do well in the 100 meter Dash of Death and are all in pieces. Players must re-assemble the competitors, using mighty healing powers such as duct-tape. Players get bonus points, if most of the parts in the assembled henchman belong to a one person.
The game moves on in real-time. Players can freely trade with each other, with whatever conditions they find reasonable. There’s two main ways, either “give me spleen! I need also feet! I can give you duct tape!” or “two body parts for two body parts, anybody?”. If you have a body part and healing cards mentioned in it, you can discard the healing cards to play the body part. There are six different body parts (head, torso, arms, legs, spleen and spirit) and eight different henchmen (colours). You must play one each body part — no two-headed spleenless henchmen allowed!
You can get more cards when you add a body part and also with the help of a hourglass. There’s an one-minute hourglass included in the game. You can pass it to next player to draw a card. When you get the hourglass, you have five seconds to turn it over, if you wish. Of course, if it’s low, just pass it to the next player! If you have the timer when it runs out and somebody notices, you’ll have to pass it on without drawing a card. That’s an interesting mechanic!
Round ends, when two or three players finish their henchmen. Winner of the round is probably one of them — everybody scores the number of healing cards they have played (ie. number of icons on the body part cards) and those who have completed their henchmen get bonus points for the colour they have most in their henchman. If you manage to use all the right pieces, that’s six bonus points! And then it’s time for another round! One round takes perhaps 10 minutes of time.
Nodwick doesn’t have very good ratings at the Geek, but that’s probably because of the real time mechanic. However, real time is an attraction for me. I love good high-pressure real time games and Nodwick certainly fits the bill. It’s as hectic as Pit, only more hilarious.