I have spent a lot of time looking at PnP contests over the last few years. Quite frankly, if you have an interest in PnP, I think that contests are a resource that cannot be overestimated.
The 2021 9-Card Contest is currently in the voting stage, which means that all the final entries are out there for folks to look at. Since files don’t always hang around, it’s a good time to look at them.
For a while, the 9-Card contest was my favorite one. For one thing, they are really easy builds. And sometimes, the ability to just sit down and make a project is what I need. More than that, the limits of nine cards leads to some really interesting experiments.
But I realized that I’ve been enjoying R&W PnP contests more as of late. (And haven’t there been a lot of them!) And I think it’s because design doesn’t have to fight against restrictions as much when it comes to R&W entries.
Which doesn’t somehow erase all the fun I’ve had with 9-Card Nano games. I have had some really fun experiences with 9-Card games. The base version of Cunning Folk showed me you could have a real game with nine cards (and it was a game I was looking for) Pocket Landship is so dashedly clever. And I still hold that Orchard is one of the most impressive games I’ve seen in nine cards. And that’s just scratching the surface.
However, nine cards is a limit and a restriction while R&W is a medium. If a R&W contest required the printed portion, rules and all, fit on one piece of paper and you could only use one die, that would be a more fair comparison.
I also found this revelation led me back to a question I always circle back to. Can you have a healthy and fulfilling gaming life with only PnP?
The answer is clearly yes, particularly if you have unlimited funds and crafting time and skill. There are a lot of war games and train game and other games, big robust games, that are available as PnPs. If you have the time and the materials and the skill, you can make games like that.
However, as more and more time goes by, I become convinced that it can work for lazy PnP makers who have a budget. And Roll and Write games are a part of why that’s the case. Even in the short five or six years since I started seriously looking at PnP and R&W, I feel that a depth and richness has really developed in that medium.
Anyway, all the entries for the 2021 9-Card PnP contest are out there. The world and community of PnP is a living, changing, experimental place so go look at them.