Rucksack, a new party game launching on Kickstarter, is an improvisational storytelling and "pitching" game about creating a plan for dealing with a given challenging situation, using five assorted items. First, the challenge is issued in the form of a "scenario"- some of the various scenario cards are illustrated below:
Then the players acquire their items - these are in another deck of cards, pictured below:
In turn, each player draws an item card and can keep it or discard it (if there are cards in the discard pile, taking the top discard is also an option). If she discards it, she must keep the next one drawn. This lends an opportunity for absurd humor as a player might be looking for a item to help, say, "Defeat a seasoned gladiator in combat," and might reject something and end up with something even more useless or incongruous - like a pillow, some makeup, or a toilet plunger. This causes some amusing mental images and laughter.
Once all players have their five items, they take turns telling the story of how they intend to meet the challenge of the scenario. The rules state that it's encouraged to good-naturedly "poke holes" in others' plans, and say why YOUR plan is best. My players did not do this much - but I can see how it could add to the fun.
Some examples of techniques my players utilized:
- One told her story in dramatic fashion, like a novel.
- One created a tale in which singing played a major part.
- Several subverted expectations by using items in creative ways counter to their implied original purposes.
The game provides opportunities to be as funny, serious, creative, or ridiculous as you like. Once everyone has had a turn speaking, each player votes for the player whose tale they liked the best. This process repeats for a total of three rounds and whoever scored the most points is the winner, but the game is more about the fun stories and less about who wins.
The players and I were ok with the amount of content in the game. There are a good number of cards and the variety should make for good replayability. Also there's a wide range of types of challenges and items. In addition to physical scenarios, there are more emotional ones like "Endure a reunion with your ENTIRE family." The item cards have humorous or clever "flavor text" - for example, the Throwing Stars (Japanese shuriken) have the text "I want to survive, but I'm not shuriken" (sure I can).
The game lends itself well to variants and tweaks. To speed up the card acquisition process, we cooked up a new way of refreshing our hands in succeeding rounds. The instructions offer variations with open voting and using one voting sheet instead of each player having their own. The rules are flexible and simple. It's quick to learn and I was able to lead a game of it over a video call.
If your game group enjoys classic pitching games like Snake Oil or Malarky, Rucksack is well worth a look. With creative or talented players, you are sure to create some memorable moments.
Rucksack hit Kickstarter July 27th. Wishing you good gaming!
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