*Mockman's new game The Cartooner Ends December 18th On Kickstarter.
Mangaka is a fast-paced card game where you draw and write comics in five-minute bursts. While this is a game about drawing, you can still win even if you’ve never drawn a stick figure in your life. Cleverness, silliness, quick wit and storytelling ability matter much more than your ability to draw.
Players start by drawing three Theme Cards (such as "Kaiju/Giant Monsters", "Robots and Androids," or "Desire to be a Parent") to determine the subject matter of their comic. (These three Themes stick with the player throughout the game. Many but not all of the Themes have a manga/anime/Japanese flavor.) Then each player chooses a title and "pen name."
After players have had a few minutes to brainstorm, the five-minute timer is activated and core gameplay begins. Players have five minutes to draw their comics (on pre-printed Comic Pages) and express their Themes. When time is up, each player takes a turn reading their comic to the group (or, in the suggested 'professional mode,' the other players read the player's manga amongst themselves without the artist being allowed to give explanation). Based on the other players' judgement, each player earns 2 Fame Tokens for following each of the three core rules: (1) express your Themes (2) use 3 or fewer Word Balloons and (3) draw something recognizable in every Panel.
Beginning with round 2, Trend Cards appear, putting more Fame in play. Trend cards (examples: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Shojo Manga, Sports, Destruction, Subtlety, etc.) provide new victory conditions in the form of instructions and a corresponding reward of Fame Tokens. Some Trend rewards can be claimed by every player simultaneously, others can only be claimed by one or two winners (such as "Eager Audience," which rewards Fame to the first player to finish drawing before time runs out).In addition, each round after the 1st, the Comic Pages become denser, requiring the players to draw more Panels in the same amount of time. Round 1 is 2 Panels; round 2 is 4 Panels; round 3 is 6 Panels; round 4 is 8 Panels. The number of Trends also goes up from round to round. Round 2 has 1 Trend; round 3 has 2 Trends; round 4 has 4 Trends.
When round 4 ends, the winner (the most successful comic artist) is the one with the most Fame.
The art on the trend cards is excellent. It is reminiscent of many anime/manga you have enjoyed yourself or are visible in pop culture. The tokens are a right size and thickness. Players could have easily kept score on the drawing paper, but this was a nice little extra. Also if you need more drawing paper, they have made the pdf to print out available on their website which is nice. My only small complaint is that the themes cards are very generic on the back. I would have liked to see them use a manga style font or had it looked drawn in with a manga panel background.
We had three varied styles of player. A person who could draw (above), a person who could almost draw and stick figure artists (both not shown). And we all enjoyed this game. I would highly recommend that you start at the 8-minute level because when you get to later rounds, you can be stressed out trying to finish your panels. This is not just a game about drawing. It is very strategic as well. The trend cards make a huge difference in how you play and how your characters evolve during the game. They also matter regarding trying to score points to win the game. Even a below average artists such as myself was able to gain some points just by following trends. This game was good for the group I was in, and if you like anime.manga or drawing I think this is an easy buy.
However.... I understand that manga is not for everyone. If this game sounds like something you would enjoy, but the theme is a non-starter for you, Mock Man has a Kickstarter live right now with a comic theme called cartoons. The campaign ends December 18th and can be found here.
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