Cracked LCD Countdown: 10-in-1 Small Box Games Product Line Review

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smallboxgames1Here it is, my long-delayed review of _all_ of Small Box Games' "Pure Card" line.  These games are all designed and published by John Clowdus, a guy that come to find out lives just about 30 minutes away from me. So yeah, full disclaimer, I've met and played games with him. I've even watched him down a bottle of Evan Williams and rhapsodize about the film ANGELA'S ASHES and fabricate a story about some house in Atlanta that had bleeding walls. He's a good guy though.

These games are exactly the kinds of games I've been looking for lately, and it's very refreshing to come across a designer that is doing simple yet innovative and completely unique games that aren't copies of other games. It really says a lot that John is more versed in MAGIC than he is in who won the past ten Spiel Des Jahres, and that his goal isn't to do these huge, epic and epically expensive games but to do compact, fairly minimalist designs with limited components and low price points. But they're also not bullshit games without any context, meaning, or theme- the games all speak to thematic material surprisingly well, with virtually no executive theme other than pictures. And the themes are unique, too. Check out WAX and POTLATCH in particular. 

 I'm thrilled to pieces to have discovered these games, and I've been excited to be able to share them with you guys. It started out that I was just going to do two or three of them, but when John gave me copies of the entire line and I played through each of them, I realized that I had a Cracked LCD Countdown in it since there were ten titles. There's only one that I think is kind of a non-starter, and one is really more for young children, but I still thought they were worth checking out.


 Michael is a member of the Fortress: Ameritrash staff, and a regular columnist for Gameshark.

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Sometime in the early 1980s, MichaelBarnes’ parents thought it would be a good idea to buy him a board game to keep him busy with some friends during one of those high-pressure, “free” timeshare vacations. It turned out to be a terrible idea, because the game was TSR’s Dungeon! - and the rest, as they say, is history. Michael has been involved with writing professionally about games since 2002, when he busked for store credit writing for Boulder Games’ newsletter. He has written for a number of international hobby gaming periodicals and popular Web sites. From 2004-2008, he was the co-owner of Atlanta Game Factory, a brick-and-mortar retail store. He is currently the co-founder of and as well as the Editor-in-Chief of Miniature Market’s Review Corner feature. He is married with two childen and when he’s not playing some kind of game he enjoys stockpiling trivial information about music, comics and film.

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