Friday, April 28, 2023

My brain and my gut argue about Numbsters

Numbsters is a solitaire micro game that’s built around the old joke that Seven ate Nine.

The game consists of eighteen cards that are numbered one through eighteen. It’s sort of an In Hand game since all of the active cards are held splayed in your hand. (You still need a draw deck and a discard pile but there are ways of dealing with that and keeping everything in your hands)

The eight card is the mouth card. The basic mechanic of the game is that, if the eight is in between two cards that are in sequence, the larger card can be discarded. One could eat two, thirteen could eat fourteen, etc.

Ah, but there’s a clever bit. Every card other than the eight has a special power that gives you other ways for cards to eat each other. And whatever card is on top of the active cards, that’s the special power you get to use.

Each turn, you draw a card from the draw pile. You can then move one card or swap two cards. Then, you have to eat a card, discarding it.

You win if you eat sixteen cards and the eight is not on top of the active cards. You lose if the eight ever on top or you can’t eat a card.

I’m of two minds of Numbsters.

On the one hand, it hasn’t zinged for me. I keep meaning to play it more and just haven’t gotten around to it. Part of me feels like I could really like it if I give it enough of a chance but I haven’t worked up the energy to do that.

On the sugar-coated side, I think that it’s mechanically really well designed and I think it’s a brilliant use of theme. From the game-as-art form standpoint, I think Numbsters does a great job.

So, my brain thinks Numbsters should be good but my gut isn’t convinced.

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