It’s always a great feeling to see a promising idea reach its Kickstarter goal within days of going live. “HOST”, a card game developed by Broken Prism Games, is one such item. It still has twenty-one days to go (as of 10/29/13) and shows no signs of slowing down. In this particular game, the world’s first great apocalypse has begun. That begs the question…what finally did in our big blue planet? Zombies? Aliens? A little of both, it turns out. Before we take a sneak peek at what this game has to offer, I’d like to thank Matthew Ryan Robinson from Broken Prism Games for reaching out and providing me with a press copy. As with all prototypes, it’s important to stress that the components featured are usually not representative of the final product, making the below rules and contents subject to change.
“HOST” is a simple card game that bears some similarities to “Old Maid” and “Go Fish!”. The package itself came with a total of one hundred and fourteen cards, which are further broken up into mission, event, and host decks. Mission cards task players with completing an individual goal in order to win the game. This mission will remain hidden from other players, making it a real challenge when it comes time to pass a card on your turn (more on that in a bit). Event cards are special cards that modify the game and affect players in a particular way. They don’t occur THAT often, but they can be pretty groundbreaking depending on the circumstances. Finally, host cards make up a player’s hand and consist of a number of different card types (like suits).
Setting up the game turned out to be a cinch, requiring us to shuffle each of the three card types (mission, event, and host) into their own respective decks. Each player is dealt one mission card and four host cards. On a player’s turn, they’ll check to see if they have the host cards necessary to meet the victory condition on their mission card. If they don’t, they’ll draw a card and place it in their hand. At this point, they’ll choose a card from their hand and give it to any other player. Once again, the player will check to see if their host cards meet the victory condition and if they don’t, their turn ends. Play continues clockwise around the table until someone meets their goal, who in turn wins the game!
Host cards, as mentioned above, come in a few different forms: Inoculate, Infected, Invasion, and Investigate. The former two serve to conflict with one another, as do the latter two…meaning that having cards opposite of what your mission card calls for can actually set you back. If you need inoculate cards to complete your mission, for example, each and every infected card in your hand will count against the number of inoculate cards you have. Not to worry, the cards clearly indicate which of the two items should be increased or decreased when mentally calculating your ever-changing score. Once you understand the relationship between inoculate/infected and infestation/investigate cards, you’ll begin to see why the victory condition is assessed twice during a player turn. Getting rid of a detrimental card might give you the numbers you need to pull ahead to victory.
There is a bit of luck in drawing the right cards you’ll need to complete your mission, but there’s also a bluff factor to the game as well. If you happen to have more cards than what your mission calls for (but are lacking something else), you can throw others off by discarding the extra cards you don’t need. Since there are two sets of cards that conflict with one another, paying attention to what others discard can clue you in as to who is aiming to collect what cards. It’s a subtle gameplay mechanic, but provides a bit of depth to an otherwise simple “draw and discard” game.
“HOST’s” family friendly nature makes it ideal for family game night, though it can serve as a nice filler in between longer play sessions. The cards in my copy weren’t gruesome or inappropriate for young ages, though I can’t speak for the final art. The minimum age requirement, as a result, could probably be lowered to 10+, perhaps even 8+. Since the gameplay is fairly simple to grasp, bright kids will no doubt be able to play this without too much trouble. “HOST” has a lot of potential and I’m looking forward to seeing what the final product looks like once the development stage is over. While the game has already met its Kickstarter goal, there are plenty of stretch goals to shoot for. If you like what you see, feel free to support it via the Kickstarter link below.
You can learn more about and support “HOST” by visiting the following websites: