Designed By: Joel David
Art By: Dan David
Published By: Grumpy Spider Games
Released: Coming to Kickstarter July 2021
Player Count: 4-8
Time to Play: 30-60 Minutes
As pandemic restrictions start to wind down, it's time to start thinking about gaming with larger groups again. We have really missed getting together with friends for some party games during this past year and a half. We were super excited to get to test out Rucksack, which will be coming to Kickstarter shortly, from Grumpy Spider Games.
In Rucksack, players get thrown into different problematic scenarios and need to find a way to survive them.
For a party game, Rucksack incorporates some unique game elements like card drafting and storytelling.
Draft items and then tell the story of how you will use every item to survive the situation you are facing. The more clever your story, the better chance you have of winning!
The setup for Rucksack is super simple. Give each player a voting sheet and a pencil and write all the other players' names on the voting sheet (players do not write their own name).
Shuffle the scenario and item decks and place them within reach of all players.
That's it. You are now ready to play Rucksack.
How to determine the first player:
Choose a random player to draw a scenario card and read it out loud. That player will go first.
How to Play:
Rucksack is played over a series of three rounds, after which the player who got the most votes wins. There are four parts to every round:
Draw a scenario - someone flips over the top card of the scenario deck and reads it out loud to all players. This is what everyone is working the survive.
Draft items - the player who read the scenario card out loud starts the draft. They draw an item card and choose whether to keep or discard it. If they keep it, the next player then gets to go, if they discard it, they pick another card, which they must keep. Future players may either do the process outlined above or select the top card on the discard pile to draft. Continue drafting until all players have five cards.
Reveal your plan - starting with the player who read the scenario, players take turns showing their five drafted cards and explaining how they would use them to survive the challenge they are presented with.
Voting - once all plans are revealed, players vote for their favorite plan that round on their score sheet. Their results will not be revealed until the end of the game.
After everyone finishes voting, shuffle all of the item cards back into the item deck and repeat the steps above for two more rounds.
After the votes are cast for round 3, all voting sheets are revealed, and whoever gets the most collected total votes wins!
We had a lot of fun playing Rucksack. Storytelling in an attempt to survive ridiculous situations combined with the really random items you could get made for a lot of laughs. As with one of our formerly reviewed games, Trust me, I'm a Doctor, one of our favorite parts of Rucksack is that heckling is highly encouraged. Player's are totally allowed to poke holes in others' plans and reiterate why their own plan is so much better. Our personal opinion is that heckling makes party games so much more fun. You get to be creative in making up your story and then making up why someone else's story is sillier than yours. With items like latex gloves, a bear trap, a pool float, paperclips, and a frying pan to survive 30 days on an island full of komodo dragons, there are totally a bunch of flaws that can be pointed out in one's plan.
Unlike many party games, we like how the voting is handled in Rucksack. As votes are secret and not revealed until the end of the game, players can vote with honesty for the best story and not try to edit their vote to help or prevent another player from winning because they already know who is in the lead. The blind-voting mechanic works really well here and helps keep the game feeling fairer than a lot of party games we have played.
We also enjoyed the drafting mechanic. As the item cards are really diverse, from things you would think important for survival like a knife or matches, to things one might never consider for survival like candy or baby dolls, it intrigued us to see how items we might have tossed aside were picked up by opponents based on how they worked with other cards in their hands. The diversity of items also made for better stories, as players must talk about how all five of their items fit into their plan. For those who could use items creatively, their story was more likely to win votes.
One last thing that we enjoy about Rucksack is that even though the original game is designed for up to 8 people, there are rules on how you can scale it for bigger groups. I work in a college setting and am always on the lookout for things I can do with my team of students or my coworkers. It is hard to find games that fit big teams and are not Cards Against Humanity. As this is a safe-for-work party game (unless you get really creative, I suppose), Rucksack could be a fun game to use as an ice breaker or for a staff bonding event. Knowing that I can scale it up for larger teams means that I can make it work with a staff of 13 and I love this!
Rucksack will be coming to Kickstarter on July 20th. You can check their launch page out here.