Review by: Jillian Schmett
Hey everyone! This week I’d like to talk about a game I was provided to review called Stuff & Nonsense Designed by James Ernest and published by Cheapass Games. This is a 2-6 player game in which you will be taking on the role of an adventurer...sort of. You are actually too much of a coward to head out into the wild blue yonder yourself, so instead you and your friends sneak around London visiting various shops and acquiring interesting pieces of “evidence” of your adventures, later returning with them to The Adventurer’s Club to spin your harrowing (completely made up) tales of how you came to possess them.
This is a small set collection game consisting of 100 cards, 6 player pawns, 1 Professor Elemental pawn, and 1 six-sided die. The cards are good quality and the pawns are wooden instead of plastic, which is nice.
The game is set up by laying out the 6 Shop cards (representing the different locations you will visit to acquire your artifacts) in a circle around the Center of London (consisting of the Market and The Adventurer’s Club). This will be the game board. Beside the board 5 location cards are placed, representing the places players have “traveled” to to get their items. These cards act as dials, with point values that will change as cards are rotated, making artifacts from these locations worth more or less depending on what the value showing is when you score them.
Each turn, players may take one step or stay where they are. After they move, they may do the action appropriate for the space they are on. At a shop: pick up a card from that shop and add to your hand. At the Market: trade one card by discarding from their hand and drawing from the top of the deck. At the Adventurer’s Club: turn in cards to tell a story of adventure.
Some cards will affect the Professor Elemental pawn. He will be traveling around the board and if a player encounters him on a space, they will lose cards or points.
My favorite thing about this game is definitely the theme. I think it is such a silly and fun idea and I was really excited to play it when I found out I would be receiving a copy to review. The flavor text on the cards is hilarious, and it’s really funny when you are turning in your hand and reading the obviously ridiculous tales about your "adventures."
The box is small, so it was convenient for us to throw it in our bag when we spent a weekend visiting friends. The fact that it’s made up of just cards, pawns, and dice meant that it was also really easy to set up and break down and we were able to play it on a small table, so it’s great for traveling (kind of ironic, since it’s about a bunch of people afraid to travel). The rules are simple and easy to explain and as I mentioned the card text is really funny, so this is a great option to play with people who don’t usually play a ton of games.
Another thing I enjoyed about this game was the way the location cards acted as dials. After a player turns in a hand of artifacts from a certain location, it is deemed “less interesting” and therefore worth less points, which is displayed by turning the card to the next lowest point value. I thought this was very thematic because it makes sense that the rest of the members of the club would tire of hearing stories about the same old places time after time.
Gameplay is pretty random throughout, so this isn’t a game to go into looking for a deeply strategic experience. The win condition is met when a player meets a set amount of points, which is different for different player counts. I did feel that games seemed to run a little long for what this game is, and think it may have been better if the score goals were lower. This could easily be house-ruled, of course.
I know I have mentioned (what, like, twice now?..) that the text on the cards is really funny and entertaining, I can’t help but think it might be even funnier if players had to concoct their own stories of how they came to have items such as “this shrunken head that was retrieved from the depths of the Amazon.” Although this game is a set-collection game, it really feels like a storytelling game as well. I realize that if people were making up their own stories it would kind of lean more toward a party game, but I think it would actually work great as one.
This is a great game to play if you have a group of people who will really get into the theme/story aspect, and I haven’t come across anything like it, so if that part sounds like something your group would enjoy I do recommend picking it up and checking it out. If your group is made up of more serious gamers, or you dislike a lot of randomness in your games, then this probably won’t be for you.
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