Thursday, September 13, 2018

Muses is amusing but flawed

Muses is a nine-card PnP solitaire from 2013, back before nine-card games were cool :P

In Muses, you try to win cards worth one to five points with die rolls using two six-sided dice. Every card is based on a classic Muse and uses what looks like Renaissance artwork (so its surprisingly ink heavy for nine cards :P)

There are several little twists. All but the three and four points cards have one-shot powers to adjust die rolls and you get three one-shot tokens to add or subtract one pip. It’s kind of like a very simplified To Court the King, really. And if you don’t get a card, you rotate it and it becomes more difficult (but not impossible) to win.

And, after you’ve gone through all nine cards, you win if you’ve earned twenty or more points.

Ooookay. There are some definite issues with this game.

As other folks have pointed out, there’s a total of twenty-three points in the game. So losing either the four or five point cards means you automatically lose. You need them both.

The game also has two strong luck elements: rolling dice and luck of the draw. Combined, they can sometimes make the game unwinnable or too easy to win. Having the aforementioned four or five card come out in the first turn or two can sink a game at the start. On the other hand, being able to get lower cards with their special one-shot powers out early can make winning much easier. 

Honestly, Muses seems to border on being an activity rather than a game. Sometimes you have no decisions or you must make such an obvious decision that it’s still not a real decisions.

Muses comes from a web site called Good Little Games, home of a wide variety of PnP Microgames. And, as time has gone on (I believe they had a hiatus), they had posted some very promising games. I keep an eye on the site and many of their game interest me. Muses is an earlier game and, frankly, not as good as what was to come. 

That being said, I don’t regret making a copy of Muses. I had a pretty good idea of its limitations going in. It’s real virtues are the short playing time and the small footprint. It has some interesting ideas but I think that nine cards are too few to really explore it. But it is still an  amusing process. It won’t be a new standard but it will see occasional play.

Okay, would I recommend it? Well, half-heartedly. It’s easy to craft and I like the dice manipulation. However, even if we’re talking just about nine card solitaires, there are definitely better ones. Orchard is an obvious example. So make it if you’re willing to accept that Muses is flawed but enjoyable.

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