If you've been following us for a while, you know that I love card games. Even those that are played with a standard poker deck, as they can be perfect for a 15 minute gaming session. The only problem is that they trigger my fancy deck collecting tendency... Sure, a simple deck does the job just fine but an illustrated one does it better, right? When 1PG member Wil Su posted a set of 10 games he designed himself (which he collectively calls Isaludo), I noticed I was lacking appropriately themed poker decks to match his settings. Do I have a deck featuring aliens? No. Zombies? No. Sandwiches? Sadly no!
So I made do with what I have. I chose to play Loot the Loop, a game that has you explore a temple Indiana Jones-style: you are searching for 4 jewels (the Aces) and trying to avoid traps (the Faces) until you find the exit and escape with the loot. Since I don't have a temple-themed deck, I played this with my 'Sightseeing in Milan' playing cards... and called it 'lost in Milan'. The Aces represent the monuments I want to see. The traps are dead-ends and disorient me from my destinations. All the other numbered cards are just places I pass by.
I start with the deck shuffled and face down. There is only one Joker in there, representing the exit. On every turn, I can do one out of four options:
a) Look Around (reveal the top 2 cards, or the top one if the second is already face-up).
b) Explore (if the top one or two cards are face-up number cards, I choose one of them, remove that many cards and put them at the bottom of the deck. Then, if I land on a face-down card, nothing happens: I can continue looking around. If I land on a face-up card and it's a Face (trap), I lose. If it's an Ace, I grab it. And if it's a number card, I keep it as loot).
c) Mark a path (if the top card is a face-up number, I can keep it aside to use later. I can keep maximum 3 cards).
d) Return a path (if I need to, I can take one of my saved path cards and return it on the top of the deck. In this way, I can avoid traps or land exactly on a treasure).
In the first cycling though the deck, all you can do is Look Around. In subsequent rounds, you'll have already revealed some cards, so you have more options. The game is quite luck-driven, and there's nothing you can do if you fall in a trap on your first round, other than reset and try again. It plays very fast, though, so you won't be frustrated if you lose. During my session I got lucky and eventually found the 4 tourist attractions I was looking for, although I had to reset twice due to early losses.
If you enjoy this type of easy-to-learn, easy-to-play games, check out the Isaludo designs. Wil has done an excellent job with the rules, they are very clear. I persuaded JW to play Sandwich Guy, so we'll probably feature it next, until we eventually play all 10 games. Stay tuned, and if you have a standard deck around, please join us.