Penny Arcade: The Card Game – Synergize This

The more I played of Penny Arcade: The Card Game, the more I wondered who this game is actually made for.

The fact that it’s based on the long-running webcomic Penny Arcade implies that the game is for fans of the series, as it relies heavily on references to the comic itself. Since this is a card game and not a video game, you would hopefully have to be familiar with games like Magic: The Gathering to enjoy this game to the fullest. Then there’s the actual rules, taking a simple concept and complicating it immensely. The goal of the game is to pummel your opponent into submission, accomplished by playing cards from your hand, then blocking his offenses.

Every card has unique effects, and using them together is how you get the really big combos. The problem is that for every turn you have to constantly juggle a huge number of variables – how much strength and intelligence you have, what passive cards are in play, which cards synergize with other cards – and even then your opponent can still block your attack, making it all meaningless. It draws out what should be a simple game into a slog.

There may still be a fun game buried underneath, and dealing huge amounts of damage with card combos is always satisfying. However, between its complex rules, sluggish pace and its niche theme, there is next to no reason to play this one over the alternatives. At least it’s not as painful as Monopoly. By the way, the publisher severely underpays their artists. Don’t buy Fantasy Flight’s games.

Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Number of Players: 2
Age Suggestion: 13 and up
Published in: 2009

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