Kickstarter Tabletop Alert: Tune in to ‘News@11’

News @ 11

This just in: Floodgate Games and Infectious Play Productions are publishing a game in which you make the news. Fake? Most likely. Fun? That’s up to you! Tune in for News@11!

What Is News@11?

News@11 is a party game for 4 to 6 players, ages 8 and up, and takes about 30–45 minutes to play. It’s currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, with a pledge level of $19 for a copy of the game. The game is mostly about having some fun making up stories, so the game itself is kid-friendly, but of course it depends a lot on the particular players and what they decide to put on the fill-in-the-blank cards. Also, although the game says 4 to 6 players, I think you could easily throw in more players, as long as you know that the game will take longer to play.

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News@11
News@11 components.
(Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

News@11 Components

Note: my review is based on a prototype, so final component quality and count may different depending on how the Kickstarter campaign does. My prototype included:

  • 10 Segment cards
  • 6 Producer cards
  • a big stack of Cue cards
  • a Sharpie

Just based on the cover image compared to the card backs of the prototype, I imagine that these cards are going to get spruced up a little before the publication, though really all that’s needed to play is the text on the cards. Each cue card has one word printed in bold at the bottom, and two Mad Libs–style blanks above that, asking you for things like “dangerous substance” or “mythical creature.” Segment cards are different news segments (Traffic, Weather, etc.) and producer cards are things that can interrupt the flow of the game to throw in a twist or save a struggling player.

News @ 11 cue cards
A sampling of the many,
many cue cards. (Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

How to Play News@11

You can download a draft of the rulebook here.

The Goal

The object of this game is just to have fun—it’s a collaborative storytelling experience, and there isn’t a winner or loser, other than getting laughs out of your friends.

Setup

One player is the Lead Anchor, and takes the segment cards. You can have the same player be the Producer and take the producer cards, or else choose another player (who doesn’t like talking as much) and let them be producer. Everyone else is a Field Anchor, and each player gets three cue cards dealt to them.

News @ 11 producer cards
Producer cards can interrupt or add to a story. (Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

At the start of the game, each Field Anchor will get to fill in one blank on each of their cue cards. Pick one of the blanks on the card and read the text below it. Everyone else gets to shout out suggestions, and you pick the one you like and then write it on the card. (Yes, in permanent marker! Think of it as a Legacy-style game.) Once everyone has filled in one blank per card, put these cue cards back into one pile and shuffle them.

Gameplay

The game takes place over three time periods: Morning News, News at Noon, and Evening Edition. The phases play out the same way, except that in the morning each Field Anchor will get 1 cue card, at noon they get 2 cards each, and then in the evening they get 3 cards each.

News @ 11 segments
Some of the available segments the Lead Anchor can choose from. (Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The Lead Anchor does a little intro, and then picks a segment card and calls on one of the Field Anchors. “And now, here’s Ted McMurray with the weather!” The Field Anchor gives a short story of that segment type, incorporating all the terms on their cue card (in any order, and however they’d like to interpret them), and then call back to the Lead Anchor.

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Continue until each Field Agent has been called on for a segment. Then take back all the cue cards, shuffle them up, and deal out the appropriate number for the next time period.

The game ends after the three time periods, by which time some of the cue cards may have shown up in multiple news segments of different types.

News @ 11 cards
A mucus gathering? Sounds like Politics for sure. (Prototype shown) Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Why You Should Play News@11

News@11 is sort of a mash-up of Mad Libs and improv comedy, with maybe a dash of The Onion thrown in for good measure. It’s best for those who are good at making things up on the spot, and is primarily a social storytelling experience.

I’ll admit right up front that I’m probably not the ideal target audience for News@11 myself: a lot of my gaming group is introverted and doesn’t really want to be put on the spot. And my kids? They really haven’t watched traditional TV news, so I think some the theme is somewhat lost on them. That, and I tend to prefer games with more objective outcomes—scoring, winners and losers—so a game that’s designed purely for entertainment value without any win condition isn’t my usual fare.

However, I do think News@11, given the right crowd, could be a huge hit. The fill-in-the-blank cards will make for a lot of in-jokes, particularly the way that the same cards will crop up throughout the course of one play. The kangaroo with a backpack might show up first disrupting traffic on the highway in the morning, and then wind up later in a health and beauty segment in the evening. And just wait—someday that card will show up again when you play, and you’ll be reminded of the stories you heard previously. I do think it’s a game that gets funnier the more you play it, not only because of shared history but because more and more blanks will get filled in.

News@11 game in progress
Our field anchor Steve explains how demand is very high for the rare Pegasus Lamp, the MacGuffin from the new sci-fi movie about Uranus starring Charlize Theron. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Speaking of those blanks: the tone of the game will be affected by your fellow players. Depending on whether you’re playing this with your kids or adult friends, you may want to segregate the cards so that you don’t wind up with a bunch of inappropriate references when you sit down to play with your kids … or your parents.

In this current climate where a lot of people have strong opinions about the news—whether it’s fake, or biased, or sensationalized—News@11 gives you the opportunity to write the stories you want to hear. Maybe you could take your mind off what’s going on in the real world for half an hour, or maybe your game will spark some conversations about difficult topics. It’s totally up to you!

If you enjoy some absurdity in your games and love making stuff up, you should definitely take a look. If you’re not a fan of improv, then you could probably change the channel. For more information and to make a pledge, visit the News@11 Kickstarter page!

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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.

Jonathan H. Liu is a stay-at-home dad in Portland, Oregon, who loves to read, is always up for a board game, and has a bit of a Kickstarter habit.