What we have ultimately, is a game that is less about what is taking place on the table, and more about what is taking place in the imaginations around it.
If there is one thing I absolutely adore above all others when it comes to gaming at the table, it is the ability to tell stories. Whether it comes from the game itself, or from the folk gathered, to spark the imagination is a beautiful thing, and the weird and wonderful places it takes us are always to be savoured.
In terms of the weird, the magical, and the altogether odd, Comic Turns is a game that can whisk us away to these savoured lands at every turn.
Currently funding on Kickstarter, Karen Rubins’ little card game, breaks away from the shackles of board and card gaming tradition. Little attention is given to winners and losers, there are no dice to roll, and the ruleset is refreshingly simple, but what we do get is a shared storytelling experience that fires the wildest imaginations into glorious life.
The roads you travel with this game are always unexpected, often peppered with genius, and never straightforward. Let me elaborate…
In Comic Turns players are dealt a hand of cards where each depicts a scene from a comic book. Players then play cards and using the wildest reaches of their imaginations, begin to tell a story. The game has few boundaries, and the only limitations are those of the individual imaginings.
This is the sort of game in which, although it can be played solo, co-operatively or competitively, the actual little details like scoring are almost background noise against the brilliant colour and flow of the main storytelling element. Players play cards, describe the developing plot, the characters, the locations, and who happens to be winning is entirely irrelevant. And thank God for that, because Comic Turns simply blossoms without it.
First off for myself, I will always embrace any game that allows room for stories to be told. I’ve written about such ideas previously on more than one occasion, that regardless of the game at the table I will always seek out deeper immersion, and the stories that come from this, and from the experiences of the gathered players are the true joy that emerges afterwards. Comic Turns is actually built upon the foundations of brilliant storytelling, but, rather than tasking players to dream up deep and vivid scenes, it is happy to let short, sharp tales run free too. I played this one with my twelve-year-old daughter, seven-year-old son, and seventeen-year-old son, and the way their minds were engaging with the images, and the often hilarious little plots that developed over the space of just three or four cards, left me in a state of utter delight. Comic Turns is the sort of game you can always tell is at the table because the air is permanently filled with laughter.
Another great aspect here comes from the simplicity of the ruleset. We have a game that can be played in multiple ways with varying rules in play that offer distinctive changes to the way stories are told, but rather than players having to spend time learning a new approach, everything is blessed with a simplicity allowing for a lovely free-flowing game that never ever drags its feet. Believe me, when playing with younger children this is welcomed with open arms.
The card set is equally simple. The artwork is such that it is entirely possible that players could add their own comic panels to the deck, and over time produce something where repetition is eliminated. However, as I’ve mentioned repetition, Comic Turns does have occasions where the same cards will appear from game to game, but, rather than proving tiresome, this actually becomes a real funny focal point of a game as we get to witness different players alternative takes on the same cards.
I feel that alongside looking at how Comic Turns is a vibrant and engaging game in its own right, I should also mention something else that was blatantly obvious to me as soon as I read the rules of play. This game would be absolutely fantastic in the classroom, for home educators, or even just for parents looking to spark the creative thinking in their child in a way that allows for a shared experience. I’ve already read comment from a parent who spoke about how the game was hugely beneficial for their autistic child, but I think this also translates right across the board. Any parent looking for a game that can be enjoyed with their children, but that doesn’t rely on the rolling of dice or moving of pieces, and that actively seeks to challenge imaginations and feed ideas, should seek this one out.
To wrap up this glowing list of good stuff related to playing Comic Turns I want to mention the fact that here is a game that can be enjoyed by players of all ages, and when my youngest little girl begins to put a few words together, this will be one of the first games we experience together.
What’s Not So Good?
There’s very little I didn’t enjoy about Comic Turns, I mean what’s not to love about a game that is built upon sharing stories? But if I had to pick a few points I would begin by stating this is a game that probably won’t demand extended time at the table. A game can be played in around ten to twenty minutes depending on who’s playing, and you’ll probably enjoy three or four plays before moving along to something meatier. In terms of a gaming night, Comic Turns is definitely the filler rather than the main course, but it is a very sweet filler.
The game also has a little competition for time at the table, predominantly in my collection from Untold: Adventures Await, the story building experience based upon Rory’s Story Cubes. Untold has the looks and the bells and whistles, that’s for sure, but Comic Turns has the simplicity, and in my opinion the more universal appeal. However, I am positive many gamers will reach for Untold simply for its more eye-catching appeal. That said, in my opinion there is definitely room for both in your collection as they do similar things in a very different manner.
The only other aspect for myself that was a slight downside, was that the cards are largely based in the real world, and the day to day sort of mundanity of this. Whilst this is still completely open to interpretation and the more expansive imagination can take the mundane and make it incredible, I would have loved to see some more fantastical cards in the mix just to witness the paths this might have taken us down.
Where’s The Appeal?
If it isn’t already apparent, for myself the obvious appeal here is in the wonderful art of building stories together. It is an act that should be cherished, and, as a way to spend some family time, it is pretty hard to beat. Although light weight in appearance and play, every gamer needs a few smaller quick fire games in their quiver, and with Comic Turns the wonderfully simple becomes wonderfully silly, before simply demanding one more play. There are many games out there that lead us along a tale or two to remember, and often these are within the pages of a longer, more involved game, but what Comic Turns offers is a lighter, more quickfire alternative, where the entire episode is told across the space of just a few comic book panels.
The game is great for family time, but also works in adult hands where the themes can become, let’s say, a little more colourful. So all in all, the scope for play is pretty wide and varied.
One For The Kids?
Absolutely and without any shadow of a doubt, Comic Turns is a great game for children of all ages. It can be played co-operatively, competitively, or even solo, and brings a great platform for creative thinking and expression.
My own children really loved playing the game, and the totally unexpected routes our stories took us was a genuine pleasure to see. Not only would I say this is a game to be enjoyed by children, I would thoroughly encourage it. And more so, I would say if you are a parent, sit down with them and enjoy some fun filled, laughter heavy, play. You won’t be disappointed.
I think I’ve pretty much said everything that needs to be said, and I’m sure my own joy from playing Comic Turns is apparent. It might not be to everyone’s taste, but then nothing ever is, and some will find it a little loose I’m sure, but for those seeking something a bit different, Comic Turns is worth a look. What we have ultimately, is a game that is less about what is taking place on the table, and more about what is taking place in the imaginations around it. It is a simple, thoughtful, funny little game that should be in everyone’s collection, and I know my own is all the richer for it being there.
Comic Turns is currently approaching the end of its Kickstarter funding campaign, you can make a pledge for the game right here