Before I begin, I was provided a prototype copy of the game in exchange for an honest review. This is not a paid preview.
If you would prefer to watch a video review of this game, check it out below.
“Would you be interested in previewing a game that is best described as Game of Thrones meets The Office?” Well. Color me intrigued. In a nutshell that was the email I received about Talk, You Fiend. I have to say that had me hooked. I was immediately all in to check this game out. I did not really know what I was getting myself into, but after that intro it would have had to look like the worst version of the 1988 classic Mall Madness for me to have turned it down.
As it turns out TYF is a relatively simple bidding game. Each player has, in their hand the same cards number -1 through 5. Each round everyone bids on a card in the middle, and all of the scores on the card are added up. If the total on the players card is EQUAL TO or LESS THAN the number on the card in the middle then whomever played the highest card gets it, and the associated points; while whomever played the lowest card gets shame. Both literal and metaphorical. Whichever player gets to 10 points first is the winner.
Now if that sounds very full and boring to you…you are right. However, that is because you have not taken into account the theming of the game. In this game you are all royal torturers. The cards in your hand are not just numbers but they are various methods of torture. Will you use your rubber chicken? Your spiky gloves? A jar of bees?
The card you are fighting over? It is not just a number, it is a prisoner and you are each doing your best to torture them without actually breaking them. ‘Cause if you break them, well that requires paperwork, and that is shameful. Get to much shame and you get sent to H.R. to explain yourself.
Three of us actually took the game with us to brunch over the weekend and played several games while we were waiting for our drinks and food to arrive. It is quite simple to learn and play, and sets up and tears down quickly.
So what do I think?
Let’s start simple. The gameplay is just fun. There is something delightful about looking at the health score of the prisoner, trying to remember what torture implements your opponents have left, then being utterly certain that you know what everyone else is going to do. You then pick your card and flip it over triumphantly, only to discover that no, you are, in fact, and utter moron. Not only do you not get the prisoner, but you wind up with shame instead.
Now those of you who have followed many of my other reviews are going to look askance at this next statement. I think the art, and simple black and white drawings are just delightful. Usually, I bemoan that the bulk of the card is just white, with the image on the front, but something about this hand drawn, doodled in the margin of the torture textbook makes me smile. I think the art is EXACTLY right for this game.
I also enjoy the way that some of the prisoners interact with each other allowing for score multipliers, and lets you mess with other peoples prisoner stacks. If that sounds familiar to you, it is similar to the way that the “heads” you collect in Guillotine work.
I have already said that I think the art style is spot on for this game. It is. I do wish that the torture cards that the individual players had was a bit more varied. There are six sets of cards and all of them are the same. I think it would be so cool if each torturer had thematically different torture implements. The mechanics could, and should, stay exactly the same but it would be so fun to have more options on the cards themselves.
If you recall I said that what got me interested in previewing this game was when it was described as Game of Thrones meets The Office, and yes there is DEFINITELY a flavor of that. However, I do not think I would go so far as to say that it is as intense and messed up as Game of Thrones, nor is it as wacky and off the wall as The Office. It definitely hints at that, but the game is just not complex enough to fully realize that promise.
Bringing it all together
This is a game that understands what it is, and does not pretend to be anything else. It is a fun, quick bidding game that has a very solid theme to take what could feel dry and stale and make it delightful and fun. The artwork is on point for what it is, and if you enjoy bidding games, with a lot of tongue in cheek vibe to it, then this is your game. The kickstarter is currently live here!
Yes you have found the #6 card…a Hungry Gamer written review! READ IT!
*Streamlined gameplay, simple to learn, fun to play
*Doodle style art is exactly right for this game
*Potential for lots of cool stretch goals down the road
*Theme makes what is a potentially dry and “math-y” game fun and delightful