Tuesday, May 3, 2016

MK Game Review: No Thank You Evil!


Today we will be reviewing a game that is still in its infancy. Birthed through the Kickstarter crowd funding site, it arrived at my door just a short while ago. I have had plenty of time to comb over the material, rules and get a basic feel for the game. So without any further build-up...

I am really excited about this game. I am a father of two beautiful little girls. Here they are!
One of the hardest parts of being a Gamer-Parent is the whole "waiting for my kids to be old enough" thing. I know it will be at least a decade until they could approach something like Pathfinder or D&D. But not all games hold the same level of depth and complexity in their rule set.
Right now I am playing a Star Wars RPG: Edge of the Empire (check out the Actual Play Podcast here!).
The game itself is extremely fun to play. The group involved makes it extra awesome. It is much simpler than the previously mentioned RPGs. The rules system might seem complicated to some at first, but in comparison to most Tabletop RPG systems it is much more story driven and less rules heavy. It doesn't take long at all for the mechanics of the game to become comfortable and easy to play.
 However... it is still going to be a while before my girls are ready for anything like that. Sure I could break out Chutes and Ladders or Candy Land (and I will), but how do you get your child into a game style that goes beyond the two-dimensional visually stimulating games most common in the industry that targets children?

***I have to add a section here. I know there are plenty of people who instantly deliver the following questions; "Why would you want your child to be into stuff like that? Are you trying to get them into the Dork Club? Do you want them to get bullied?" - I will do another blog that focuses of the topic "Why you should Encourage your child to play RPGs" another time. So keep reading!"***

Lucky for us, Shanna Germain & Monte Cook have already crossed that river ...and built a bridge for us so we can join them. What is the game for your family to play on Family Game Night that helps stimulate your children beyond colors and basic competitive and/or luck-based win conditions?
No Thank You Evil!
This amazing Tabletop RPG is built with three separate levels of play. Each level adds another layer to the game. This concept not only makes the low end of the suggested age group (four years old) dip into an enticing range for Fathers like myself, but it also adds to the longevity of the game. Don't worry about your nine year old getting bored with a game designed for kids five years younger. Once your child (or even yourself) feel you are ready to "up the ante", just add the next level of play into the game and it becomes a whole new aspect of your character to enjoy. It adds depth and more possibilities for you and your family to explore. Your first play-through can either be well guided with some amazing pre-existing adventures written just for the game in the Land of Storia, or if you are feeling extra creative, you can use the system to write your very own stories to guide your child through. Is your child a My Little Pony lover? Let them play in the My Little Pony Universe. Is your kid an avid Avengers fan? Drop some Marvel into the mix. It really is that easy.
Character Creation
Forget the whole sifting through the sea of classes and races bit. Skip the assigning skills and feats, or picking skill trees. The lowest level of play in No Thank You Evil! asks one question to help you create your character. It's actually not even a question. It's more of an Ad-lib. "I'm a noun". Yup. That simple. Once you reach the highest tier? "I'm an adjective, noun that verbs." How is that for you? Anyone can do that much! The words that you chose to place in this sentence will determine your traits. Traits are how you do things. It's kinda like your ability scores, skills and feats rolled into four possibilities.

"Tough" = anything that requires you to use strength, fortitude or constitution. Like breaking down a door, shrugging off a poison or standing your ground against hurricane winds.
"Fast" = anything that requires you to use Agility, Dexterity or Reflexes. Think about using ranged weapons, balancing on a high-wire, or dodging the ball during recess.
"Smart" = anything requiring Intelligence, Wisdom or Charisma. Examples would be solving a puzzle or riddle, making up a story on the spot to get past the goblins, or even using telepathy or telekinesis.
"Awesome" = (my personal favorite) is ONLY used when you help out another player. It doesn't matter how you help. You are Awesome, just for helping.
Using these as your guide for success within the story you are welcome to do anything! If you can decide what stat you are applying to any task, you can try to do it. Simple? Yes! Awesome? Yes!

So it doesn't matter if you play hammer wielding robot, A Girl controlling a set of armor capable of feats of great strength, or a Pizza-Flinging Boy Wonder: what you do is truly up to you. Want to create a magic spell that produces Ice cream whenever you crave it? Roll a Smart check! Want to pick up that elephant and move him so he won't trample the pies at the county fair? Make a Tough check! Want to show off your stuff by winning the race against the four legged aliens? Roll that Fast check!

There is only one die, six sided (D6). The hardest task you will ever face will be scored at an 8. How do you roll an eight on a D6? By trying harder (removes one from the difficulty of the challenge) or hoping one of your friends will be Awesome (adds 1 to your roll results) and help out. So aside from the obviously simple character creation, the game play is so story driven that as long as you can imagine what is happening next, you can play forever! The replay value is quite high. As I mentioned earlier, if you have already played through the adventures that came with the game (in the Kickstarter version anyway) you only have to apply your children's favorite book, show or even stuffed animal into the story to give it new life. The only limit is your ability to use your imagination.
The Land of Storia has some really fun areas for your family to explore. Start at home and step through a magical dimension door.
Want to play something scary? Enter the doorway "Under the Bed" to see the Boo Lagoon or go to Ghoul School.
Is your family more of the Fairy-tale type? Head "Into the Closet" to climb the Beanstalk, or look over the top of Dragon-snot Falls. The world has been crafted with love, imagination and a fun twist of hilarity. While I read the book and handled the bits from the box I found myself admiring the entertaining and dynamic art that compliments the overall feel of the game. While I personally can not give an account of how my daughters (one is eight months and the other is almost three) enjoy the game, the reviews from children and adults alike all sing the same song.
The versatility of the system matched with the beauty of a child's innate strength of imagination makes this a game that every Gamer-Parent should have on the shelf. As person who has played countless games of just about every style on the market plus a few that are not yet available to purchase or play, I consider myself to be pretty well versed on games, and as an adult, with all of this knowledge, I found this game to create an atmosphere where children and parents alike can sit down to a whimsical journey of fun, laughter, and bonding. Sitting as a family and working together to solve the riddle, scale the mountain or even debate the finer points of land and property ownership with the dragon who keeps eating the towns livestock. All in all? A must have! Five Stars!!! I only wish my girls were old enough to understand and appreciate such an amazing creation. No Thank You Evil! is a work of pure genius. If Willy Wonka was in the game business, this would be his "Ever-lasting Gob-stopper".

Come with me, and you'll see a world of
Until next time ...Game On! -MK

*This game is not currently available at MKTabletop.com. We are in communication with the distributor of Monte Cook Games to bring their amazing products to our virtual guests.*