Welcome back to Talk of Tales, where Christy and I, JP, review board games. Sometimes they’re random, other times they’ll be games offered at Tavern of Tales. Today’s entry is a game we might be offering in the bar/ lounge area, un-enhanced by sound and narrative, GameWright’s dice and card game, Trash Pandas. Now before I get into the review of this game, which I’ll be doing solo this go around (sometimes Christy is busy with specializing in operations), I want to talk about the culture, the internet branding of this game.
Back in the early 2010’s after planking had ended and shortened internet terms, acronyms, were dying, leaving only “lol” and “lmao” as survivors, the internet was really getting into the groove of things and understanding that it was a wonderful place for absolutely dumb and random things. It had become appropriate to nickname things, dumb down scientific terms. Memes had reinvented themselves from just cultural communications, insights and inside language of old to a mainstream means, utilizing images and the ever growing circulation we know as social media. And in my adolescence I had frequently lurked Reddit’s sister site, Imgur--a site of mainly pictures, small captions, and threads of comments. During one of my days skipping class during sophomore year of undergrad, I encountered a picture of a raccoon on the site, but rather than being called a raccoon, it was called a trash panda. And this game captures the spirit of this time. Which leads me to the aesthetics of the game.
One look at the box and you can tell that this is a goofy game. The art by Kwanchai Moriya is adorable. The cartoony nature of each image, the details of dilapidated trash, mold growing on the “Nanners” card, shards of wood from a pencil and a piece of gum lodged into the bones of a thrown out fish. It’s somehow seemingly simplistic yet vibrant. The use of nicknames for cards from the aforementioned “Nanners” to “Doggo” or “Feesh,” while kid friendly and oversimplified to an absurd amount, it also captures the zeitgeist of the internet. Just from the box art alone, you should feel a slight interest in the game. It captures the eye. Though for some board gaming aficionados, this game isn’t that respected. When Christy and I bought this game for research purposes we were met with the sneer of the cashier and the line, “You know you can buy any other game, right?” So let’s talk about the gameplay.
This game, due to its kiddie artwork, the childish name, the recommended age being eight plus, seems like it might be too easy of a game. But in actuality, this game is tactical. You use your cards, stash them wisely (of course only when given the chance), get to learn the risk and reward of playing a card vs. stashing it, and, should a dice roll end in a bust, learn the folly of your own avarice. With the utilization of card effects you get to counter and sabotage your competitors’ potential success. There’s a bunch of elements in this game that, while on a surface level, could seem light-hearted and elementary, maybe quite brain-dead, should this game be played amongst adults far too competitive in their nature, will become quite cutthroat. So essentially it’s a fun game.
So the game is cute, meme-worthy, and a bit more complex than it seems, but do I actually like the game? Well after playing it about four times...no, I don’t. That isn’t a knock on the game. It’s more of a play on my tastes. I don’t really care for card games, but it’s a fun game nonetheless. I feel as though future patrons of Tavern of Tales would enjoy playing this game with friends and maybe even strangers. So despite my feelings for it, I say it’s Tavern of Tales approved.