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Cranky Chinchillas, just hype and no substance?


Cranky Chinchillas box art it features a variety of cartoon chinchillas dressed in costumes. Tag line reads 'Unleash chaos with fluffy, round balls of destruction'
Cranky Chinchillas box art

Age 14+

30-60 mins

4-6 players (more with expansions)


Summary - Cranky Chinchillas

So I was so very excited to back this when it came to Kickstarter (www.kickstarter.com/projects/crankychinchillas/cranky-chinchillas/) , we bought into the hype and the low cost of what we thought was an entry level game, thinking "why the hell not?". Boy were we wrong! It is a game of secret alliances, betrayal, and unleashing chaos with fluffy chinchillas. You'd think a group of reviewers who like hidden agenda games would like this game from Cranky Chinchillas Inc. ... let's find out!


You and your friends start the game secretly divided into teams with different objectives. You’ll need to figure out who is friend or foe, then destroy your enemies with the help of your fluffy, round heroes!

Cranky Chinchillas goals. Chin Empire: All Sleepy Town players are dead; Sleepy Town: All Chin Empire players are dead; Deceiver: Be the last player alive. If you died your objective changes to all other players having one or less Heroes each; Forest Spirit: Have more Heroes in your Eliminated Hero Pile than there are players.
Cranky Chinchillas goals

Gameplay

Everyone starts with a party of Heroes, each with a unique power to help bring down your enemies. Heroes also represent your life points, and must be protected at all costs. Subsequently, you’ll use a selection of action cards to attack, steal, deny, identify teams, cause general mayhem, and much much more. Combine your action cards with the powers of your Heroes, the game ends when a player achieves their role’s objective.

But watch out, at least one of your “friends” could be 'The Deceiver', allowing them to betray everyone and claim solo victory!

Cartoon images of the different Cranky Chinchillas Alliances  - Chin Empire, Sleepy Town, Deceiver and Forest Spirit.
Cranky Chinchillas alliances

That means that whilst you’re managing your hands of cards, you’re considering your hidden role, with asymmetrical* outcomes, in what becomes a competitive social deduction card game. All of which is designed to be suitable for gamers of all kinds, with strategy and depth, but with underlying mechanics that are still simple and easy to pick up.


But what makes Cranky Chinchillas unique from other social deductions games? Nothing! This game's mechanics could be applied onto ANY theme and the art and premise wouldn't change.

One thing that has something going for the game is that when a player loses their last hero, they join the spirit realm as dead players! These players cannot come back to life but can still influence the game to help their teammates or themselves achieve victory (very similar to other hidden agenda games like Blood On the Clocktower). Dead players continue to play the game normally, with the only changes being: their hand limit is reduced to two, they cannot regain any Heroes, and their role card is permanently revealed. This is a great touch, as with most hidden agenda games they get harder when someone drops out.


I am not going to go into the rules too much since its just a double sided sheet (very quick to learn), but I will mention one thing:

Role Question Cards: These are the cards to help you gather information about other players’ roles. To ask a role question you need to choose a player to be the target of your role question. Then draw a card from the question deck. Secretly looking at the card, picking one of the options (“1” or “2”), then give the card to the chosen player without showing it to anyone else. Make sure you then ask that player out loud whether they are that option without revealing what is on the card (e.g., “Are you two?”). Players must answer truthfully unless they are the Deceiver.

You must then place the question card back into the question deck and shuffle the deck (this option makes it difficult to ask different questions and I feel that the should be removed from the question deck because some folks are just that UNLUCKY and could get the same card).


Production - Cranky Chinchillas

This is a BIG let down from my personal perspective, in the precampaign adverts/ information I saw tarot-sized cards with nice thick finishes, and what I received is NOT that... the card stock is thin, finished with linen and with the foil finishes the cards are difficult to read, so not what I was expecting. They almost feel cheap and unfinished, the card stock is SO thin that when I picked up one of the cards, I immediately damaged the edge on a brand new game!

Conclusion


​So let's break it down for you in our key areas:

  • Replayability - Cranky Chinchillas is replayable BUT the minimum player count makes it tricky (4) BUT the playtime of 30-60 mins means it's not a quick game, I know other hidden agenda games and they play quicker.

  • Production Value - This could be better especially with the card stock, especially considering how easily I managed to damage the cards already (not happy with myself!).

  • Theme - Love the theme and artwork, but this game could have had ANYTHING applied.

  • Complexity - Not overly complex, which what makes this game so appealing!

  • Rules - Simple and easy to follow, however the grammar is pretty poor and I often felt reading it that wording was missing (if the Word Nerd is reading this feel free to shout POT KETTLE BLACK lol!).

  • Uniqueness - Not unique enough BUT for new players wanting to get into the hidden agenda games, you COULD start here but I feel there are better examples Psychobabble being one of them!

  • Value - great value considering what you get BUT the bigger bundles I really do not feel are worth it.

A d6 die face showing four pips, each pip the head of the Diary Of A Lincoln Geek mascot Ink the Imp

I am giving Cranky Chinchillas a 4/6 it crowdfunded really quickly (under 30 mins) and capped at £90,623.79, which is massive! But I feel a little let down by their choice to linen finish the cards, especially considering they have done so many lovely stretch goals). I would have preferred fewer stretch goals and spot varnishing on the box for a thicker and better quality card stock that isn't so easily damaged on the edges. While I enjoyed the game and the clever nuances with the role question cards, it's just not enough to make up for quality of the core elements (the cards, now I know why they offer deck protectors (https://tinyurl.com/3xhfyh2p). UNSLEEVE at your own peril! Feel free to check out the Cranky Chinchillas game if the cute artwork and hidden agenda style appeals to you. At its core lies a clever game that will get you coming back for more.


Your friendly DoaLG founder

Mr Chris


*Asymmetrical games are games in which the resources, abilities, rules, or objectives are different for some or all of the players


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