Lunch Money Review

March 2, 2011

 

Let’s be honest with ourselves shall we? Deep down inside, most of us suspect that those sweet, innocent looking girls in their Catholic school uniforms are actually agents of evil and mayhem. And we’re right.  The folks at Atlas games quicked to this little fact fifteen years ago and have been making money hand over fist ever since.

Lunch Money, and it’s sequel Beer Money are a pair of fun, fast little games by the folks at Atlas that have been around for some considerable time now. The concept is pretty straightforward. Catholic school is a hotbed of frustration, repression and mixed messages. You and your friends are fed up and decide to let off some steam. Speciffically, you decide to let it off by beating one another into a semi-comatose state.

 You start out with a hand of five cards and fifteen health points. You end the game either victorious or out cold. Play goes around the table from person to person playing attacks and defenses as in most fighting card games. The range of attacks and the damage they do is pretty broad. A simple slap can ding you for two points while certain combos can rock you for seven, taking half your health in a single attack.

 

Weapons are a factor as well. Because let’s face it; what right thinking member of a tool-using species hits someone with their bare hand when there’s a pipe, hammer or handy chunk of concrete laying around. The key difference between weapon attacks, apart from their damage is what happens after you play them. With a normal attack, say a Pimp Slap or Hail Mary, you discard the attack card after you play it. Play a Knife or a Chain (preferably upside the skull of another player) and it goes back in your hand for reuse on your next turn. Unless, that is, your opponent has a Disarm card. In which case the attack fails, you lose the weapon and you are now unarmed against someone with every reason to be cranky with you . Lucky lucky lucky you!

 

Naturally, as with any good fighting card game there are ways to heal as well as hurt. Wouldn’t want the suffering to end too soon now would we? First Aid cards can be played on your turn. Each one heals two points of lost health and you can play as many as you like at a time.

 The only real complaint I have about this game is the relative complexity of the rules. Most fighting games are simple, streamlined affairs without a lot of gray area in what happens when you play particular cards. The rules for Lunch Money

http://www.atlas-games.com/pdf_storage/LMRules.pdf

 tend to be a bit more convoluted. Players both new and old will frequently find themselves referring back to them in an effort to understand exactly what is supposed to happen or under what conditions a card or combination of cards can be played.

  Despite that little wrinkle, this is a solid piece of work. To my knowledge it’s one of the first brawler-type card games and it has stood the test of time for a reason. Fast paced, fun, possessed of a good core concept and terrific, creepy artwork, Lunch Money has every right to the longevity it has achieved.  Pirce and portability are also factors. At $19.95 for a single core game and $9.95 for an expansion Lunch Money is priced for most budgets. Plus it’s small enough to fit in your coat pocket. Toss in a handful of D20’s to track your Health points and you’ve got a solid, fun, go anywhere gaming experience that’s going to appeal to a broad range of potential players.

 So grab your rosary, say your prayers and make your peace with your dear and fluffy lord. And as always, keep it fun.

Mech out!

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