As blogging has assumed a lower profile in the minds and habits of Internet users, creators and publishers have sent me fewer review copies for Aard. Looks like the last time was over nine years ago, when I reviewed the Italian boardgame Beer & Vikings. (Sadly it never made much of a splash, having only 78 ratings on the Boardgame Geek website today.) But now I am happy to report that I have received two games for review. Let’s first look at the Swedish 2017 party card game NätTrollz by Mattias Dristig. It’s from the publisher Eloso on a licence from Dristig’s company Vildhallon.
Fluff & flavour text
This game is about Internet trolls, as its Swinglish name suggests. A game consists of the players having five pointless discussions on an online forum, each of which ends when someone posts a cute cat video that distracts the participants. The cards have funny flavour text which becomes familiar during your first game.
Each card has a drawing of an ugly internet troll by Jan Kustfält. Though the drawings are strongly formulaic and all the trolls look pretty much the same, I don’t mean that the art is lacking in skill. These are skilful caricatures of one really ugly person.
NätTrollz is a trick-taking game with a lot of interrupt cards. Players of whist and bridge will understand if I say that in order to take a trick here, you need to have the special trick-taking card, and you can play it at any time out of turn order. Tichu players will understand if I say that this is Tichu, only you always play single cards, a trick always gets bombed repeatedly, and indeed the only way to win a trick is to bomb it.
The trick-taking card is the cute cat video. 9 cards in a deck of 82 are cats. If luck has it that you don’t get any of these cards, then you can take no tricks. For a chance to get more cat cards you need to draw more cards, which will often result in you ending the game with a full hand. And any card you’re left with after five tricks is negative points. There is no new deal between tricks.
The large number of other interrupt cards (16 out of 82) confuses gameplay quite a lot, since you can play them at any time, for instance three different interrupt cards in a row during someone else’s turn — or your own.
It says on the box that this is a party game, so it’s somewhat beside the point to say that NätTrollz is largely a game of chance with humorous flavour text and does not reward much re-play or tactical study. It’s fun for people who have never played it before, who don’t expect to play it again soon, and who have perhaps drunk a few beers. If you buy this as a gift, I’d say that the ideal recipient is a non-gamer who hangs out a lot in online forums occasionally plagued by semi-literate racist uncles.