Let’s just get this out of the way right from the start:
Phew, there. Now we can begin proper and talk about SUPERHOT: The Card Game from Grey Fox Games, which is both alike and different from its videogame counterpart, which I greatly enjoyed playing through last year. Y’know, despite not really understanding anything related to its narrative. This is a micro deck-building game, based on something called Agent Decker, which I have not checked out yet, though there seems to be a free print-and-play version. In this one, naturally, you use abilities and items to deal with increasing threats, such as men with guns and flying bullets. Threats you eliminate are added to your hand, giving you improved abilities and more options while bringing you closer to victory; however, you need to be careful because the more cards you use, the faster you move through time, which is represented by a line of obstacles moving in your direction.
Okay, let’s get more detailed without hopefully making your eyes glaze over. Rules for board games and card games can sometimes be a lot to take in, which is why simpler games like Just Desserts, Bandido, and Elevenses are more digestible. Basically, on your turn, you need to interact with obstacles–whether killing them or knocking them out, though I still don’t understand how you knock a table out–to increase future possibilities or give you more time before bullets begin to appear in the line, which are harder to deal with. The cards that you use are discarded to the obstacle pile while cards you pass by are placed in your personal discard pile, creating a mini-deck of cards. The game has three types of obstacle cards: enemy, scenery, and objects, with each type giving you different abilities when they’re in your deck. Your goal is to complete three tiers of missions–level one has one mission, level two has two, and so on–while not running out of cards or ending up with four bullets in your hand.
Initially, I was very confused with how a turn went in SUPERHOT: The Card Game. I ended up watching three or four videos to finally see how things are supposed to go, and I get it better now. Still, I’m constantly flipping through the rulebook to make sure I’m doing things correctly. For my last game, I managed to get to the third tier of missions, but ended up running through all the bullets in the bullet deck, which is an automatic loss. Wah. Here’s hoping my next run is more successful or, at the very least, more confidently done. There’s both cooperative and versus modes, but the game was definitely designed for solo gaming, and I think that’s where it will remain with me.
I really, really love the look of SUPERHOT: The Card Game. Obviously, it draws many of its images from the videogame, which is sparse on details yet high on style, but the cards themselves manage to contain a lot of information without being completely full of clutter or text. They maintain the dedication to the colors red and gray, and the mission cards all contain a bunch of code that probably says something to people that can read code, but I’m left in the unknown. Either way, it’s slick and cool and feels futuristic.
SUPERHOT: The Card Game features game mechanics that forced me to figure out the best tactical and strategic solutions in each moment. Do I destroy that flying bullet or clear out the enemies that, if I don’t, will add more bullets to my deck? Do I want to empty my hand, moving time forward quickly and risk seeing more bullets coming my way? Sometimes the best laid plans don’t always work out, but, in the given moment, you do feel in control. This often resulted in tense decision-making, but felt satisfying when things did work in your favor.
For a solo game, it can take anywhere between 15 and 45 minutes, depending on how often you need to re-read the manual, but once things get going, and you understand the flow of turns, the game stops being about the manual and specific rules and more about moving through time as you see fit, and for that SUPERHOT: The Card Game flips a table and lives to see another day.