Introducing Carry On
Carry On: Gear Collecting Card Game is a small card game for 2-4 players that was produced in 2016 through Kickstarter. It's been off the radar for the most part, but those who have the game have generally made positive comments about it. I came across it via the publisher Enfabled, creator of several decks of custom playing cards that I have reviewed here. I enjoyed the playing cards from Enfabled, so I figured I'd give their card game a go as well, and it proved to be somewhat of a pleasant surprise.
The game is definitely in the light filler category, but we have had fun playing it so far. The theme is summed up well by the back of the box, which says: "In the year 20xx we did it, we blew it up. Do you have what it takes to find the resources needed to survive?" Given that the world as we know it has ended, our mission is this: "Find items. Replenish your stash. Do what it takes to carry on."
So what do you get? Well just a deck of cards really, slightly thicker than a standard poker deck because it contains 72 cards.
There are two main types of cards:
● Survivors: There are four types - Minimalist, Pacifist, Anarchist, and Generalist.
● Items: Beside generic Items, there are Weapons (Tactical Knife and Handgun) and Hazmat Items (Suit, Hood, and Boots).
The three Hazmat Item cards represent the win condition of the game: the game ends when you have collected all three that are in the game.
The rules fit onto a single double-sided card, and are very easy to learn and pick up.
Everyone starts with a "Stash" of four face-up cards. You take turns playing a card from your Stash and performing its action, then (if necessary) replenishing your Stash back up to four cards, after which any other players who have lost cards as a result of your action also replenish back to four.
The different cards allow you to do different actions. For example, the four different Survivors let you perform actions like swapping cards with an opponent, or forcing an opponent to discard their Weapons.
Weapons let you steal an Item or a Survivor card from an opponent. Items like the Compass and Shovel let you pick a card of your choice from the Draw or Discard pile. More generic Items like Energy Bars, Murky Water, and Busted Rations typically just let you replenish your personal Stash with one or more cards.
End of Game
As soon as a player has collected all three pieces of radioactive gear - Hazmat Boots, Hazmat Hood, and Hazmat Suit - they win the game immediately. There's only one of each in the deck, so typically once they enter a player's Stash, the competition will be fierce, and they'll often change hands!
Components: Enfabled has produced several nice decks of custom playing cards, so they know a thing or two about cards. As a result, it's no surprise that the cards themselves have somewhat of a linen finish, and attractive cartoon-style artwork. Definitely better than average as far as components for an indie card game goes!
Rules: The game-play is very easy to pick up and learn. Someone in our group had studied the rules in advance, explained them to us in just a few minutes, and we were off and playing in no time, and didn't have any rules questions along the way.
Theme: The theme is well done, and the artwork does a good job of bringing this out, because there is a real sense that you have a personal stash of items that you're using. I especially liked how the theme was melded to the mechanics - for example the Compass lets you search the draw pile, while the Shovel lets you dig through the discard pile.
Interaction: We played with three players, and the game felt just right for a group of this size. With two players the game might feel like a more back-and-forth see-saw battle. With four players you use special rules in which you effectively work in partnerships, which we haven't had a chance to try yet. The nature of the game is somewhat confrontational - but in a pleasant and fun way - so there is constant interaction, and much of the game is about trying to get stuff from other players, or prevent them from doing so.
Fun-factor: The overall concept proved quite fun. You quickly become familiar with key abilities and cards like the Anarchist , which lets you steal any item (Hazmat please!) from an opponent, and the Shovel or Compass which will let you quickly get your Anarchist - until your neighbour uses a Handgun to steal your newly acquired Anarchist! The artwork and theme helped things along positively, and the game didn't drag for too long - although it isn't easy to successfully get all three necessary items!
So is Carry On: Gear Collecting Card Game for you? If you're in the market for an offbeat light filler card game with simple gameplay and a fun theme, this might fit the bill. I don't think that it has enough in terms of game-play to keep gamers coming back to it multiple times, and so with a gaming group it won't have any real staying power. But for non-gamers, and as a light beer-and-prezels type game at work, it has the potential to please on the odd times it comes to the table.
Even though I don't expect to play this over and over, we did enjoy our initial foray into the end of the world. Apparently the apocalyptic landscape isn't quite as lack-lustre as its sometimes billed to be!
Where to get it? Carry On: Gear Collecting Card Game is still available for $10 from the publisher's webstore here.
The complete list of Ender's pictorial reviews: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/37596
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