A real card game about fake adventure, the wonderfully improbable sequel to Professor Elemental’s Imaginary Polar Expedition.
|Stuff and Nonsense||Cheapass Games||Card Game|
In The Box
What you find in the box will depend on how you actually acquired your copy of Stuff and Nonsense. At its most basic level the retail version of the game includes a set of 97 cards divided between 84 Adventure, 8 Map, and 5 Bonus Cards. Each player gets one of six pawns representing the less-than-intrepid characters trying to gather evidence of their “adventures” while avoiding Professor Elemental. There’s an oversized pawn for the Professor and a die to control movement.
Many intelligent and handsome Kickstarter backers had the opportunity to bundle in treasures like a set of customized meeples representing the characters and the Professor, specialized dice, a collector coin, and a Professor Elemental-themed deck for Cheapass’s new game Pairs. All the swag gathered from the game’s very successful funding campaign is extra nice and adds a lot to Stuff and Nonsense, but the basic deck is already a quality production. Sturdy printing, whimsical and colorful designs and copy make the deck incredibly fun to explore. And explore is what you’ll do, as you run around London attempting to prove to your fellow adventurers that you’ve been to exotic, faraway lands and had amazing adventures.
How It Plays
It’s a card game that plays like a board game. Map Cards are set up in a spoke-and-hub layout that puts The Adventurer’s Club and Market right at the center, with other locations spread around that you can travel to–and between–when it’s your turn. Players start off with one card, and the most complex combo in the game is made up of six cards. These low numbers make Stuff and Nonsense a great game for people who don’t like holding a lot of cards. Even though there’s no upper limit on how many cards you can have in your hand, you’re usually discarding them regularly to form combos and score points.
The 5 bonus cards represent famous places you can visit–or at least claim to visit, when you share stories of your fictional journey with colleagues at The Adventurer’s Club. Each destination requires you to discard a specific number of unique cards that collectively make up the yarn you’ll be spinning. We went full-bore role play in our play sessions and loved, taking cues from each card’s flavor text. Titles like “Immortal Snail” or “Lions Hunt At Night” give clues as to the odd photographs, artifacts, specimens, anecdotes, heroes, and facts you’ll find on collected cards. The Amazon is the most demanding location in the game that requires a discard of six cards–one of each type.
Each tale told earns you points, and each new card in play raises the odds that Professor Elemental will move around London. Meeting up with him in a location means giving up precious items or points, since he knows all to well the crooked game you’re playing. Avoid him, gather fake clues, and be named the most exciting adventurer in your club of liars.
This is one of the more accessible games from Cheapass in the sense that luck plays a significant role, and also because the math is simple enough that even kids younger than the suggested minimum age (12) can play.
There aren’t too many ways to sabotage your opponents, making Stuff and Nonsense feel like a race game, with some strategy around building a good hand and timing your discards. Our favorite aspect of the game was the storytelling, which can extend the estimated 40-minute playtime by quite a stretch.