I miss conventions. We all do. The sound of happy gamers rolling dice together, the allure of new games, the meeting of friends old and new. Apart from seeing people I rarely get to see, the main draw of conventions for me is the hope of being surprised. To stumble across something I haven’t seen before and was not expecting. It is a known quantity that organic discovery like this is hard, nigh on impossible, to replicate online.
It was at my last convention, Dragonmeet 2019, that I came across Overstocked from Play for Keep Games. The game is designed by Mandela Fernandez-Grandon with art & graphics from Archie Llwelyn. You can hear a brief interview I did with the team behind Play for Keeps on our Dragonmeet special.
Overstocked is a game that is stacked with nostalgia, as you manipulate the cards you are dealt to pile your warehouses high with toys of the past. Icons that are similar to, but legally distinct from, tamagotchis, furbies, care bears (may be something else we couldn’t decide) and yoyos.
A simple enough task it would seem, but within that straightforward job come some wrinkles. Firstly you have workers on some of the cards and health and safety says you can’t crush them with boxes. It’s political correctness gone mad.
As you grow contiguous areas of boxes you grow your potential points at the end of the game. A central warehouse exists that can be manipulated by all the players, and it is here that the popularity of the different toys is judged. At the end of the game you get points for the four types of toys , each one being worth the largest contiguous group in your warehouse multiplied by the largest contiguous group in the central warehouse i.e. if I have 5 boxes of Yoyos all side by side and the central warehouse has 2 I score 10 points for Yoyos.
But what if the public doesn’t want them by the time you are putting them out on the shelves? The largest collection of boxes in the central warehouse is an overstock, boom tish, and will actually provide a negative multiplier to that particular toy. It is here that you can really mess with people and the ebb and flow of goods in the popularity pool can lead to some moments of frustration and drama, in a good way.
Overstocked is a quick playing filler with some neat ideas in a nice package. I do think the game would benefit from just being a deck of cards, I don’t really need the score pad, making it an easy thing to slide into a bag and bring out at a moment’s notice. The game also has an advanced mode that we tried out and I have to say I wasn’t really a fan. It adds a step to scoring that felt unnecessary when the core of the game is so light and fun.
Would I add this game to my collection? Probably not, not many games get in there, but I would absolutely play it again if someone suggested it. It’s a solid first game from a new studio, has a nice art style and is simple to teach and learn. If you are looking for a small, tile laying style game which plays super quick, I can highly recommend it.
A preview copy of Overstocked was provided by Play for Keep games. Final components may vary.