Last night we had katastrophes, Mr. Pink Eyes and Pants Wilder over to play Hordes and SPANC. Katastrophes and I traded some files back and forth, laptop-wise, over glasses of wine while she, The Boyf and I watched an episode of Dollhouse, about which I don’t have much of an opinion other than that I would watch more but don’t feel compelled to do so. In theory they were playing at our place so I could decide whether to get involved in Hordes, too, but I didn’t get it together to go watch them as their armies marched across the kitchen table in half-inch increments. It looks really interesting but then I remember that the most interesting thing to me about any RPG has always been the narrative possibilities and never the mechanics and a tabletop miniatures game is nothing but mechanics, isn’t it? So, we’ll see.

After they were done, The Boyf, Mr. Pink Eyes and Pants Wilder and I tried out SPANC: Space Pirate Amazon Ninja Catgirls, an extremely enjoyable and silly card-and-dice game from Steve Jackson Games, makers of such other awesome titles as Munchkin and Ninja Burger. The main “story” of SPANC is that every player controls a crew of four catgirl pirates who have different stats and the players take turns trying to overcome four sequential, random challenges – a simple dice-roll compared to a stat on a card – to complete a given caper. Points are gathered over the course of each caper with a goal of playing enough capers to collect a certain winning number of points. So, once cards are dealt and sorted and laid out as one wishes, it really is basically a very fast game of making a couple of die rolls and handing them off to the next person, rotating around the table in that way and giggling at the scenarios described by each Challenge card.

Initially, trying to read the instructions, it seemed like it was going to be really complicated. However, we leapt right in and found that it was actually very simple and very fast-paced. I accidentally rules-refereed the whole thing which always makes me feel a little weird but in order to understand the rules for something I have to be very explicit and communicative about everything to feel sure of anything regarding how a game works.

Everyone else seemed to enjoy it and I really dug it. It’s very easy to play and it only took a few capers for me to understand the way it worked which is a pretty major hallmark of simplicity. (As a counter-example, I never really knew what I was doing in AD&D2E after years of playing it.) I enjoyed it enough that I spent part of this morning trying to figure out if there had ever been an expansion for it which, sadly, there has not.

All of this makes me want even more for one of us to host a gaming night. I would love to play this again and I know Steve & Sarah are into card games and there is always the haunting, distant cry of Arkham Horror, which katastrophes spotted the last time we were both at Sci-Fi Genre.