Pocket Madness – Game of the Week
When it comes to theming in board games, you’d be hard pressed to find one more ubiquitous than the Lovcraftian Mythos. I wonder if H.P. Lovecraft realized what he was creating when he penned the Call of Cthulhu all those years ago. However, as his work has long since entered the realm of public domain, it’s super affordable for publishers to draw off his mythos when creating games. Combine that with how much gamers enjoy it and you have a recipe for success.
Which brings us to our newest Game of the Week. Designed by veteran game designers Bruno Cathala and Ludovic Maublanc, Pocket Madness gives players a Cthulhu theme on an easy to learn card game. Using some rummy-like mechanics, Pocket Madness is very easy to get to the table. But how does it play?
What is the Game?
In Pocket Madness, players are trying to collect the least amount of madness tokens over the course of the game. Each round, players will be taking turns doing one of three actions: Drawing cards, playing sets of 3 or more, or playing runs of cards. While there are thematic names for each of those actions, that’s the basics of it. However, Pocket Madness also hides a few clever twists.
Interestingly, when drawing cards, they are drawn from a row of face up AND face down cards. Players can draw 1-3 cards (always from the left end), yet with 17 cards placed face down each round, players won’t always know what they are getting. And of course, there are penalties for cards still in your hand a the end of a round, so caution must be exercised.
During the game players will also get the use of special powers from the ancient elder gods, which can help them break the rules in various ways. The game ends when one player has collected 10 madness tokens, when that happens, the most sane player is the winner.
Why Should You Play It?
Don’t let the Cthulhu theme fool you, you don’t have to be a fan of the Mythos to enjoy Pocket Madness. The game is definitely accessible enough to be enjoyed by just about anyone. If you have ever played a rummy type game, you should be able to pick up Pocket Madness pretty quickly. And if you are a fan of Lovecraft and his tales, then the artwork and madness mechanics should easily draw you in.
I really enjoyed the clever mechanics in Pocket Madness, such has how cards are drawn and what happens when players get a full run. Even in this light card game, there is plenty that has me coming back for more. All of that and more helps to make Pocket Madness our Game of the Week.