Pull! by Chevee Dodd rates a Modelo Especial
Chevee Dodd has one of the most transparent design processes of any game designer we’ve come across. He discusses graphics, game design, and other related (and not so related) topics on his website. Roughly half of his games are available freely as print-and-play options and many are also on print-on-demand services like The Game Crafter. Earlier this year, he tried out Kickstarter and published PULL! It finished shipping in September (naturally, he did it all himself, which meant shipping in phases). We finally had some time this month to give our copy some attention. (Note that we played the two-player variant. Rules for the full four-player game are available here if you want to compare.)
PULL! is a trick-taking game with two main features that set it apart. The first is that there are two active tricks and players alternate until each player has played on each trick once. Choosing two cards to play rather than just one isn’t much of a departure from, say, Hearts. What makes this aspect of the game exciting is using the information given away by each play immediately on that round. For instance, if the two tricks are both the same suit, and the first player plays out of suit, all the other players know that #1 is out of the running on both tricks.
Building on the existence of two tricks, each card takes one of two values, depending on whether you won just that trick, or both tricks. Since some of these values are negative, it isn’t always the case that you want to win both tricks to maximize your points.
Rounds were easy to set up and quick to play, which makes PULL! a prime filler candidate. Since everything is in rounds, you can scale the game to fill the time available, which is always nice.
I think it is fair to say that most people have never been trap shooting. Thus, choosing it as a theme for a card game doesn’t exactly hurt, but doesn’t add much to the experience, either. Trap shooting certainly isn’t offensive or off-putting, and it doesn’t drive away some people the way a zombie-themed trick-taking game might, but it isn’t exciting or a great draw. I’d say that the theme is cute at best and has no impact on the game play. The rules are best described in terms of tricks and suits, even though the official rules use more thematic names. Similarly, the graphics are simple and easy to understand, but not eye-popping.
The Beer Rating
PULL! is a Modelo Especial. If you’ve been drinking mass-market stuff for a long time, then it is certainly a move in the right direction, but if you’re used to (and prefer) lots of complexity, then you’ll likely find it lacking. True trick-taking fans may want to add it to their collections as a novelty, but there isn’t enough there outside of trick-taking to lure in someone who is not a fan of the mechanic. Interestingly, Dodd predicted this sort of reaction and even blogged about it. Told you he was transparent.