TGN Review: Pong Tactics by Whiskey Jack Gaming
Whiskey Jack Gaming has created a new card game that they’ve called Pong Tactics. It takes the fun of Beer Pong and adds in that extra “gamer twist.”
So sit back, relax, and pour yourself one of your favorite adult beverages as we settle in for another TGN Review.
Whiskey Jack Gaming was kind enough to send me a prototype deck to check out. My apologies for not getting this review posted sooner, but the first couple times we tried it, at the end of the game we forgot what we were doing and what had happened so we couldn’t write anything up.
OK, that’s actually my attempt at a terrible joke. Thank you for the courtesy laughs anyway.
Actually, instead of Beer Pong, we played Orange Juice pong. It kept us healthy through the long GenCon weekend (or so we like to think) and has cleared up my beginning case of scurvy. So everyone wins!
Anyway, on to the actual game.
For those that don’t know, Beer Pong (I’ll simply refer to the general game as such, since that’s what most people know it as) is a drinking game where 10 cups are placed in a triangle fashion (like bowling pins) and filled with beer. Two sets are set up at opposite ends of a table. Play progresses as players attempt to toss a ping pong ball overhand into the grouping of cups at the other end of the table. If the ball lands in a cup, the cup is removed and drank by the players of the team that didn’t toss the ball. Play goes back and forth that way until one team’s cups have all been eliminated and they lose. Obviously, as cups are removed and libations are imbibed, the aim of team members gets worse and worse, so the end of the game is pretty tough as the last cup is generally the hardest to make.
Pong Tactics takes this general game and adds cards to modify various aspects it. For starters, instead of the standard “bowling pin” layout, there are 10 Formation Cards that change how the cups are laid out. One of these cards is randomly drawn at the start of the game and that formation is used for both teams (though we tried it where it was different formations for both sides in one game and really liked how that worked, too). These can be such things as in an X pattern or in a single line (trying this variant reminded me of Bozo Buckets from my childhood). There’s also potentially a Z, a box or two rows like an =. Long-time Beer Pong players might have gotten used to making shots at a certain target and so changing things up can throw them off.
The second set of cards is where Pong Tactics really ups the “game modification” for Beer Pong. These are the Action Cards. The prototype deck sent to me had 85 cards in it (many of them were repeated once or twice, but that’s fine). Each turn you draw a card from the deck and add it to your hand. Teams have a maximum hand size of 5, so if you have more, you must play a card or discard down to 5 at the end of your turn. The cards can change just about everything about the game, but most modify either the way the ball is tossed or what constitutes a “made shot.” In traditional Beer Pong, the ball is tossed overhand and must land inside a cup to count. Some cards in Pong Tactics can make it so you have to throw underhand, or while not looking at the cups or even over your shoulder (plus others). Other cards can make it so when an opponent makes a shot into one of your cups, you can cancel their shot, or force them to remove the same cup from their formation or even allows you to place the card over a cup for a shot, acting as a “force field” and keeping your opponent from making a shot into that cup. A third type of card in Pong Tactics are what I call the “meta” cards. These are the cards that modify what an opponent can play during their turn or can steal a card from your opponent or trade out a card for one in the discard pile.
Some people may claim that “Beer Pong’s not broken, so why fix it?” but let’s face it… we’re gamers. I was just at GenCon over the weekend and saw a lot of gamers drinking and we can make a game out of anything. And as we all know, as gamers, if a game can be made, a game can be added to or altered. Half the fun of being a gamer is taking a game and going “I know I can do better.” Some of the people I tried the game with are long-time Beer Pong players and they were originally skeptical of Pong Tactics, but by the end, they came around and were laughing and joking about the “silly shots” and extra craziness and having a great time. And again, we were all stone sober while playing (the office is a cool place, but we still have limits :p ).
Whiskey Jack Gaming has a Kickstarter campaign going on now that you can check out. The cards they sent me were standard paper, but they’re really hoping to make the cards in plastic (for those that have seen the Wyrd Miniatures premium Malifaux decks, I assume they’ll end up being a lot like those) so they’re waterproof (because let’s face it, spills are bound to happen during your average game of Pong Tactics if you use alcoholic beverages).
Even for a non-drinker such as myself, I found Pong Tactics to be rather fun. Hey, not every game needs a board and playing pieces. And being social is a major portion of gaming for me. So any game that brings people together is fine, and if they have some of their favorite adult beverages at the time, then that’s just fine, too.