Game Review From Pyramid Online
By Andy Vetromile
You have to appreciate a game with a keen understanding of its own limitations. Stupiduel is Lost Adept Distractions' tongue-punched-through-the-cheek card game of fighting duels where the stakes are as silly as the weapons.
The object of the game is to be the only person to survive the duels.
Each player receives a hand of three cards. On their turn, players draw to increase their hands up to five. Both the challenger and the challenged must have at least one item card to engage in a stupiduel, so if none of those five cards fits the bill, they'll have to draw even more cards until they get one. The item card is your weapon, which you use to pummel your foe.
The other cards are modifiers. These are used with the item cards to pump up or elaborate your plans. The challenger insults his chosen foe with as lavish an insult as he can muster, and then gets down to the business of liquidating him. He plays an item from his hand, along with as many modifiers as he thinks he can get away with. He lays out the involved death trap that spells almost certain doom for his enemy. Then the enemy pulls an item card (and any modifiers) from his hand and gives his defense or escape the same fanciful treatment.
For example, the challenger may play "ball." This canmbe any kind of ball he likes -- basketball, baseball -- the whole ball of wax, or even the policemen's ball -- so long as he doesn't imbue it with any truly weird properties. That's what the modifiers do. They may be "heat-seeking," "spiked," evil," "10,000," or "×7," and you use these properties to turn a baseball into an evil, spiked baseball you've hired Steven Ellis to hurl at top speed at your victim while he's buying a beer during the third inning. You then must pull, say, the garden gnome or a high-priced lawyer out of your hand and come up with a good explanation as to how one of those items keeps you from getting beaned.
The defender is allowed to ask two questions for clarification. If the defender agrees that the attack is just too much for him, the offense succeeds and the player loses a life point. Anything the group likes can be used for life points, and they're encouraged to pick something that everyone will like to eat or mash up -- jelly beans, perhaps, or peanuts depending on one's tastes and allergies. If the defender does not agree about the plan's efficacy, and neither combatant can convince the other, the decision falls to the "seconds." Anyone else at the table not in the battle votes on the plans (with or without any discussion and cajoling from the participants), and the decision is final. Once the life point has been turned over and destroyed in some suitably vicious and hateful fashion, play passes counterclockwise. Players fall one by one (though dead people still serve as seconds, voting on the results of duels) until only one is left.
The game's graphic presentation is about as simple as it can be. The cards have the logo on one side and text on the other. One level of cardstock more would have been appreciated, but there's nothing notably wrong with the text or font.
The idea behind the rules is fairly straightforward, though the authors clearly have fun presenting them, and their embellishment in the instructions goes a long way toward making it clear what they expect players to get out of the experience. It wouldn't seem like there was much strategy at first glance, and that would be wrong. There are player's choice wild cards in the deck, for one thing. The two questions you're allowed to ask can be a subtle and double-edged sword, since by asking them you may tip your hand to your opponent or, if worded the wrong way, find an avenue of defense has been closed off.
It has the same feel as Mad Scientist University (though with a little more involvement and choice), so by extension comparisons to Apples to Apples are inevitable. Much like Mad Scientist University, the game works better if looked at less as a game and more of a storytelling pastime or social gathering.
Even the rules suggest it's easy for new players to join an ongoing session as older and assassinated players drop out (and you can squeeze more than eight people in if you try). The determination of the winner is no fairer than the end of a season of Survivor, and in all likelihood depends on how many enemies you've managed to accrue throughout the game. If you can accept this vagary and can get your friends to agree to such restrictions going in, well . . . Stupiduel will still produce the same arguments, but some of these are liable to be the sort of thing you'll talk about -- and laugh about -- for many years to come.