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[Review] Stupiduel

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Joined: 03/23/2011

I enjoyed the fact that Stupiduel (Lost Adept Distractions, 2003 - Hugh Barnes) is the Gold Medal Winner of the Lost Adept Distractions “Only Game We’ve Produced So Far” Awards. This, along with the name of the game, most certainly ensures that the game is one involving humor. Indeed, the premise of the game is that all duels are stupid; but what the hey, we’ll fight to the death anyway!

Stupiduel is not really a card game, but more like an activity. When I introduced it to my gaming group, we had a good, enjoyable time; but it was the theme and experience of playing the game that made it fun. My youth group, on the other hand, ate the game up and had a blast when playing it, wanting to play it again immediately on finishing the first game. Another teacher took it to his school, where he used it not only to successfully teach English, but also to have a lot of fun with his kids. There’s no new mechanics in this game (indeed, the game was conceived in 1983), but the experience is somewhat similar to that of playing 1000 Blank White Cards or Once Upon a Time.

A deck of over one hundred cards is shuffled, and three are dealt to each player. Players are given a certain amount of tokens (depending on how long you want the game to last.) The player who got the game out goes first (or the player who lost the last game), with play proceeding counterclockwise around the table.

On a player’s turn they draw until their hand equals five cards, or until they get a red item card. Cards are split into two types: Red item cards (sword, orange soda, chewing gum) and Green modifier cards (“x 5”, radioactive, evil, 1000). There are wild cards of both types, which can be substituted for anything the player can imagine up. The player then chooses any player at the table as their opponent. Using one item card and as many modifier cards as they want, the attacker makes up a story, using the item card in some way to cause the demise of their victim. There are a few rules, such as the item can’t be a description or action, etc.; but mostly, the challenger can do anything they like with their story, provided they can satisfy everyone at the table. People can declare a rule violation, and a majority of the group can shoot down anything with a simple vote.

The defender can ask two questions about the attacker’s story, and then must use his cards in the same way to describe how they did NOT die. When telling this “counter-story”, the defender cannot attack the attacker, but must avoid the attack somehow. For example, if the attacker tells a story in how he hurled 10 knives at the victim, the victim can show a “Chewing Gum” card and explain how they bent over to pick some gum out of their shoe thus dodging the knives. As long as the defender’s story is agreed to be reasonable, semi-reasonable, or even remotely reasonable, the defender dodges the attack; and play passes to the next player. Otherwise, the attack succeeds, and the defender loses a life token. If it’s their last token, they die and are eliminated from the game, although they still vote on plays made by the surviving characters. When only one player is left in the game, that player is the winner of the stupiduel!

Some comments on the game...

1.) Components: The game consists entirely of a deck of cards, printed in green and red ink, with pale yellow backgrounds. There are no pictures, which I suppose helps player’s imaginations, but little icons wouldn’t have hurt. Still, the game certainly does not play on the strength of its components but rather on the strength of the creativity of the players.

2.) Rules: The rules are printed on both sides of a sheet of paper and are formatted well. I was glad that there were several examples of storied attacks and defenses, which helped explain the game more than the rules ever could. A few rule variations, “Escalation” and “Competition” added some slight differentiation to game play - but nothing major. The big thing about the rules is that they’re basically a bunch of guidelines, rather than rigid, forced rules. Since the group can forcibly decide the laws for a particular game, everyone can play to the level of rules, lawyering that they’re comfortable with. I’ve found that gamers have a harder time getting used to this “free-form” playing, while kids and casual gamers can do it easily.

3.) Creativity: Like other games of this genre, the game depends greatly on the creativity of the players involved. People who go into the game “to win at all costs” are going to be sorely disappointed. Rather, it’s fun to think of creative ways for the other people to die. Now, that sounds incredibly morbid, but in reality, it’s a lot of fun. The ways that the “deaths” occur are quite comical and often rather silly. Some people may still have a problem with the theme of murder, but I think they have the game backwards. It’s not a difficult thing to kill an opponent; what’s really difficult is avoiding the “hit”. The game is actually about defense, not offense, and that makes it quite interesting. Sometimes the methods people come up to defend themselves are so ludicrous and so pathetic that we let them pass, just because everyone’s laughing so hard. Other times players use the cards in extremely clever ways, leaving everyone applauding their creativity.

4.) Fun Factor and Players: The game can officially handle up to eight players, but it’s simple to add a few more; and the rules state that players can even be inserted mid-game without disrupting the game flow too much. Since Stupiduel is an activity rather than a game, I’ve had no problem with this. The fun in the game is from listening to others make up stories and laughing at their feeble or amazing attempts to kill/avoid being killed.

There’s not a lot more to say about the game; it’s a simple idea, one that people could easily do without buying the commercial game. However, the commercial game adds a lot of cards, which can be mixed in a large variety of ways and helps stimulate the imagination. The game is an excellent tool for the classroom and is a tremendous opener at parties. People are drawn in to the theme, which is funny if handled in a light manner, and stay on to hear the stories. I’m sure that there are crowds where this game just wouldn’t work; a group of hard-core gamers would be one of them. But for most people, this is an engaging twist on the story-telling genre that will catch the fancy of several people.

Tom Vasel
“Real men play board games.”

Joined: 12/31/1969
[Review] Stupiduel

Amazing review! The game look like it could be a ton of fun in a party.

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