Monday, December 21, 2020

Ugly Gryphon Inn: a nightmare of customer service

 Earlier this year, Buttonshy started a new subsection of their wallet line called Simply Solitaire with Food Chain Island by Scott Almes. Now they’ve announced the next one, Ugly Gryphon Inn. Also by Scott Almes. He’s making all of them? I’m OK with that.

In a kitchen sink fantasy world, you are the proprietor of the Ugly Gryphon Inn. It’s the only inn for hundreds of miles and apparently you’d have to be crazy to go there since all your potential patrons are crazy. Still, you have bills to pay so you are trying to have at least seven paying guests by the end of the night.

The game consists of eighteen cards and nothing else. That’s kind of the idea of the Simply Solitaire line. Minimal components with accessible, solid rules. It’s a tableau management game and I feel like it’s aimed at a more ‘gamer’ audience than Food Chain Island.

Each card is a patron. Along with some art, every card comes with some tidbits of information. There are one to three traits, one of which is always food or beer and the rest are things that annoy people. Then there are one or two things that will irk them when they are in the inn and what happens when they get irked.

There are two areas in the game. The bar, which is a horizontal line of four cards, and the inn which is a vertical line. Each turn, you move someone from the bar to the inn and then see if you’ve irked anyone in the inn. Usually, irked patrons leave but most of them will also do something else to mess with your tableau. If you have at least seven cards in the inn when the draw pile runs out, you win!

The worst thing I can say about the game is that there are a lot of fiddly details to keep track of. I’ve been having fun with the puzzle elements of the game and the mechanics work with the theme nicely. 

I do wonder if the game will be solveable. At the start of the game, you know where close to 25% of the cards are and your knowledge of the deck just increases from there. I feel like you’ll be able to figure out combos and the game will become increasingly easy.

Still, I think that Ugly Gryphon Inn is a strong second step in the Simply Solitaire line. I think Food Chain Island is great for everyone but I would recommend Ugly Gryphon Inn to my more ‘serious’ gamer friends.

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