Thursday, September 14, 2017

My mental block with Spree

It's fun reminiscing about older Cheapass Games. While a lot of them weren't particularly good, they were always interesting. Combining James Ernst's philosophy of throwing everything against the wall to see what stuck and the whole minimalist design philosophy meant you'd come up with something you'd remember if nothing else.

(I do wonder if my early exposure to Cheapass Games is part of why chrome isn't a big selling point for me, although I do appreciate it. I could argue that years of D&D where I had to use my imagination as another reason :D)

Spree was one of those earlier games that I never could get into. Looking back, I honestly wonder if the minimalism/found components element may have been too much for me for once.

In Spree, you and your friends have broken into a mall that's on its last legs to steal stuff and shoot at each other with stun guns. With the rise of decaying and abandoned malls, the theme is even funnier these days.

And, in all honestly, there was nothing appalling with the mechanics of the game. You use a die for moving and shooting and a hand of cards from a regular deck of cards to loot. It's really random but, seeing as how this screams beer and pretzel game, I don't think that's terrible.

No, for whatever reason, using a regular deck of cards just did not work for me. Normally, it wouldn't be a problem for me but I just couldn't handle the disconnect between all of my associations with conventional cards and shooting and looting in a mall. I play a lot of abstracts and use a lot of game systems so you'd think this wouldn't be an issue for me. A specialized deck for Spree would have helped me a lot.

Of course, that would have also probably tripled the cost of the game at the very least, defeating one of its major selling points. And it still wouldn't be a good game. 

A couple years after I found Spree, some folks insisted on pulling out Frag and I found it really underwhelming. Looking back, Spree gave me a similar experience for a fraction of the cost. I'm sure Frag fans would be appalled by that thought.

I have a feeling that Spree has the potential to be a fun, sloppy game, a cross between a first person shooter and a party game. Maybe with some house rules. However, what I remember about it how using a regular deck of cards threw me off so much.

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