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OgreCave's 2001 Shopping Guide - part 1
 
The Twelve Games of Christmas
One dozen games for about $10 apiece

By Matthew Pook and Allan Sugarbaker

Gentle reader, if you wake up every Christmas morning to something wonderful hanging from the end of your bed (whoa there! We mean a pillowcase or stocking full of goodies. What were you thinking of?), why not hope for something extra special? That little something amongst the chocolate and toiletries that will whet your gaming appetite? Something fun, fer cryin' out loud. Well, this is the list just for you -- or rather, for the loved ones in your life that will be supporting your gaming habit this holiday season.

Rest assured that these suggestions have been painstakingly handpicked by the staff here at OgreCave.com, and that all of them cost around $10 or less (U.S. dollars, of course. Sorry Canada :-).

So, on to the list, in no particular order...

Ninja Burger: The Role-Playing Game
(9th Level Games & æthereal FORGE; $5.95)
Imagine a fast food delivery franchise that takes your order, knows where you live, doesn't ask you to come to your front door to accept delivery (because they can get past any locked door or security system) and does it all with a personal sense of honor. This is the secret world of Ninja Burger, in which you play an honorable ninja employed to deliver hamburgers, fries and soft drinks, all with optional wasabi sauce (okay, maybe not with the drinks), direct to the hands of your customers, wherever they are, inside of thirty minutes. Or commit Seppuku.

For a deeper look into the greasy world of Ninja Burger, check out our full review.

De Profundis
(Hogshead Publishing; $6.95) We couldn't get away with not including something dark and mysterious on this list, and a worthy choice is this, the first RPG from Eastern Europe. The latest in Hogshead's New Style line of innovative games, this should interest every devotee of H. P. Lovecraft and Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu RPG. Played in the style of Lovecraft's correspondence and without a GM (or Keeper, if you will), it works as both the rules for game and an example of the game itself. De Profundis has to be the most intriguing entry on this list.

To look over the edge of madness, check out our full review.

Witch Trial
(Cheapass Games; $6.00)
No stocking filler list would be complete without a Cheapass Game or two, and perhaps the most enjoyable James Ernest game design of 2001 was this, a game that had nothing to do with witches and certainly didn't let you burn them. Instead the designer has put the fun into bringing pernicious women to trial on silly charges with this card game. The art is all by Charles Dana Gibson and quite beautiful, complementing the lawyerly feel of this game.

Gother Than Thou
(Savant Garde; $9.95)
Compete against other wannabe goths in Gother Than Thou, where Crying Yourself to Sleep scores you big points. Similar in concept to Slack Attack, this card game has you playing to be the epitome of angst-ridden youth. Get the Eyeliner and the Boots, while trying to avoid Dire Fashion Blunders or a Visit From Mom. Be the first one to reach 20 Goth Points and you win, declaring yourself Gother Than Thou -- Thine -- whatever.

Cosmic Coasters
(Looney Labs; $5.00)
With the coasters in the bag and a handful of coins each, four can play this game of combat and teleportation between the moons of Jupiter, and the coasters really double as somewhere to rest your drink. Simple rules combining with the Rock-Paper-Scissors method of resolution makes for a fun and sometimes-loud game that can be played at your local watering hole. A real beer 'n' pretzels game that should amuse your fellow gamers and confuse any onlookers, which should always be a goal while gaming.

For a deeper look into Cosmic Coasters, check out our full review.

Battleforce Bravo: Wartime Adventure
(Deep 7; $3.95)
All right, so we're cheating with a game that comes as a PDF document and has to be downloaded from a website, but the format allows this game to be complete in just eleven pages. A World War II beer 'n' pretzels (but still deadly) RPG based upon Hollywood's heroic all-action movies: Kelly's Heroes, The Sands of Iwo Jima, Force Ten From Navarone, and the like. The rules and advice for this game fit onto three pages, leaving room for five ready-to-play scenarios. Now how you get this 1.35 Meg PDF document into your stocking is another matter. ZIP disk?

Fluxx
(Looney Labs; $10)
Here we cheat and select a game released not this year, but in 1997. A mind boggling simple card game that is not about anything except game mechanics, Fluxx is really easy to learn, it's just that in play, the rules change -- and that's the point of the game! The cleverness lies in altering the rules in your favour so that you can play the right cards to win.

Operation: Corndog
(Placebo Press; $6.00)
With ever-so-slightly doctored photos from a roadside carnival, Operation: Corndog puts players in the role of a carnie trying to make more money than his rivals. Using Attraction cards like Big Slide and Another Spinning Ride, each greedy carnie rakes in as much dough as he can before the carnival closes. Cards such as Broken Restraints and Extra Pukey can curtail the earning abilities of your opponents' rides. Of course, fending off their underhanded tactics with Hide the Body will be necessary -- can't trust them carnie folk.

QAGS: Quick Ass Game System
(Hex Games; $5.99)
In response to the number of over complicated game systems available, Hex Games give a set of RPG rules that can be picked up and played within minutes. More suited to the silly style of play, though there is no reason not to play an epic game under these rules, QAGS introduces a unique set of mechanics based around 'Yum Yums' or candy (such as M&Ms or Smarties), that act as the physical representation of both experience and hero points. Keep 'em and you can spend them, eat 'em and they're gone! So not only is QAGS an RPG, but it's an exercise in strength of will as well!

US Patent No. 1
(Cheapass Games; $7.00)
Another Cheapass game, but this one is a racing and construction game with a time travel theme. As the inventor of a time machine, nothing will salve your ego but to go back in time and register it as the very first U.S. patent! The aim is to create the ultimate time machine, destroy those of others, defend against their attacks and still be on time for that appointment at the Patent Office.

Pokéthulhu: The Adventure Game
(Dork Storm Press; $5.95)
Some say that the Pokémon cartoon and all its merchandising is having an all corrupting influence upon our young today, but it simply isn't so. Some ee-veel Americans have gone one better and used the perfidious cartoon as the basis for a cocktail of decidedly non-Euclidean proportions… Take the cartoon; add a dash of the Elder Gods, a dribble of the Great Old Ones and just a twist of something eldritch, and what have you got? Pokéthulhu: The Adventure Game, in which our young wards raise, train and fight their own Pokéthulhu against those of their friends or even against the dreaded Team Eibon!

Lost Identities (expansion for Chrononauts) (Looney Labs; $3.00)
By adding 13 ID cards and 1 Mission card to the Chrononauts game, Lost Identities brings wonderful new possibilities to the time travelling fun. Notable among the new IDs is Crazy Joe, owner of the Tiki-Hut at the End of the Continuum. What's his goal? Why, to have more than 12 unpatched paradoxes in the timeline at once, of course. Though that ends the game, he wins, and his Hut suddenly becomes packed with customers.

And so we end our list, to which we could have added so many more great products. Still, we hope to have provided some ideas of what to ask for from potential gift-givers.

Still to come is another list of great games and supplements with a slightly higher pricetag ($25 or less), so be sure to check back soon for our picks of "premium" game goodies. Until then, keep the D20s and CCGs dancing in your head, and if you see any sugar plum fairies, step on 'em - they're worth 50 experience each.


 

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