Kickstarter Tabletop Alert! ‘Cartooner: The Fast and Furious Game of Drawing Comics’

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Cartooner Game Contents

With just a few days to go on the Kickstarter, the highly entertaining game, Cartooner: The fast and furious game of drawing comics, needs a little push! In Cartooner, players are comic artists competing to create comics–given themes specific to you, and trends that apply to all players, you must draw comics under a tight timeframe. To make it even more challenging, in each of the four rounds you have progressively more frames to draw! You are scored on successfully depicting themes and trends, drawing in all the frames, and utilizing three or fewer speech bubbles. In the last round where you have eight frames, three themes, and three trends, the limited five-minute round feels extremely frenetic!

Cartooner is the Americanized version of a prior successful Kickstarter, Mangaka, which had an anime and manga theme and trend cards. I reviewed Mangaka: The Fast & Furious Game of Drawing Comics on GeekDad during its Kickstarter. For my prior praise and an in-depth gameplay example, check out that review or go to the Cartooner Kickstarter page where they’ve provided a detailed explanation of gameplay.

In short, play is as follows;

  1. Play consists of drawing four comics. In round one it’s a two-panel comic, in round two it’s a four-panel comic, in round three, it’s six panels, and in the last round players must draw eight panels!
  2. To start, players are each issued three themes. These are what the player’s comic is about and should include some of in each iteration of the comic. Every player has different themes and uses the same themes for all four rounds.
  3. Trends represent what the public is currently interested in. In the first round there are no trends, in the second one trend should be included, in the third round two trends, and in the last round there are four trends to include. They are different each round.
  4. Each round is five minutes long (you can lengthen or shorten the time to make the game easier or more difficult, or as your available play time allows).
  5. Each round, players get:
    1. One point per theme represented
    2. Two points for completing every panel
    3. Two points for having no more than three word balloons (any written text or labels)
    4. Trend cards give points based on the rules written on the cards.
Cartooner Theme Cards
Theme cards contain just text with the theme. Each player has their own three themes that they must use in each of the four rounds. Image from ‘Cartooner’ Kickstarter.
Cartooner Trend Cards
Trend cards contain the name of the trend, rules for scoring the trend, and some inspiring art. Image from ‘Cartooner’ Kickstarter.

If you think you “can’t draw,” drawing skill is not necessary–remember, artistic talent does not necessarily relate to speed! As I said in my Mangaka review,

“Mangaka is a keeper… while I’m not a skilled artist, my kids and I love drawing and storytelling. Sharing the comics and laughing with each other’s jokes and drawing (or lack of drawing) skill was a great family experience.”

While I enjoy telling a cohesive story across all panels and through the rounds, neither your story telling skill nor artistic ability are the focus of the scoring; it’s all about how well you depict and communicate your themes, and the trends as decided by your fellow players. So, again, anyone can play!

I was sent some of the Cartooner Trends and Themes. There are a few repeated Themes and Trends between Cartooner and the prior game Mangaka, but according to one of the creators, Jason Thompson, “Approximately 1/4 of the Themes and Trends from Mangaka reappear in Cartooner (the Trend Cards with new art by our new artist)… In the final printed Cartooner, the repeated Trends and Themes will have a little symbol in the corner so that you can identify them and put ’em off to the side if you’re mixing your Mangaka and Cartooner decks. Three-quarters of the cards are new and have new effects.” So, if you’ve been loving Mangaka, Cartooner is a nice booster pack to add to the already enormous number of combinations!

To try it out, I had a few of my photography students play with the prototype deck. They had a blast! While they were playing, I also realized how I could use this for my students to get a feel for what they’ve learned. In addition to giving the students some Themes and Trends from the game, I could require specific composition techniques to be employed such as “Rule of Thirds,” or “Frame-Within-Frame.” This might be a great pre-holiday formative assessment!

Scoring a round
We received some prototype Theme and Trend cards for ‘Cartooner.’ Here is a player having their comic scored. Uh oh, looks like that last frame has no art… that’ll cost you two points! Photo by Ryan Hiller.

Mangaka is a game we’ve been enjoying since receiving our reward from that highly successful Kickstarter. It provides a great chance to draw and laugh at (with!) each other’s stories. Cartooner: The fast and furious game of drawing comics is an excellent stand-alone game, or as a way to add new and exciting cards to your Mangaka decks.

So, get on over to the Cartooner Kickstarter and make this thing happen. It just has a few thousand to go to see their $25,000 goal!

Disclosure: Jason Thompson provided prototype cards for review.

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