Published on May 12th, 2014 | by Luke Turpeinen2
A Junkyard King Review
We recently had the chance to meet with Gamesicle Games’ Matt Rodgers at the Raygun Lounge to play through their current game designs. Gamesicle Games has already produced Junkyard King and are now in the process of finalizing the design of their next soon-to-be-Kickstarted game of horrors and hunters: Bane. While we got a sneak-peek at Gamesicle’s next game, their current game Junkyard King is currently available and we had the chance to play it with the designer.
Junkyard King is a casual card game where you are finding and trading vintage items while trying to find collector’s gold amid the garbage. It takes a cue from vintage appraisal and collector TV shows and has a very specific 1950’s and 60’s Americana vibe that is very distinct compared to the current board game theme-palette.
As far as physical production of the game goes, Junkyard King is very standard. The cards don’t spring back into shape as easily as playing cards, but the card stock is pretty rigid and should be fine for typical use. The game comes in a typical playing card deck box, so it’s really easy to pick up and carry around. The suits are mostly defined by color but includes strong iconography that can be used to distinguish between the suits if seeing colors is hard for you.
The art of Junkyard Wars is exactly the right style and direction that you’d want it to be. The theme of the game is obviously inspired by Antique Roadshow, Pawn Stars and other appraisal shows and the art of the game reflects that 1960s Las Vegas style really well. I do wish that the art was more dynamic, took up more of the card or included more information of the item featured. As it stands, the art is accurate but not as interesting as it could be.
All throughout playing the game, Matt would explain why this toaster or that toy car was valued at a certain price in the game. I’d have loved for some of that info to have made it into the cards somehow. Obviously there was a lot of research done in making Junkyard Wars, I’d just like to see more evidence of that love and hard work in the final product.
The rules of the game are pretty easy and straight forward. You get five cards, two face up. Cards are divided into four suits of 11 cards each, with values from $25 to $1000. On your turn you can draw a card from the main deck, look at it and exchange it with a card in front of you or discard it. If you exchange it with a card that is face down then you keep the new one face down so no one else knows what it is.
When you score, you get points not just for the face value of your cards, but also for matching a certain number of the same suit in your “hand”. A lot of the game is luck, as you mostly don’t know what cards you have and what you’re exchanging. To be good at the game you would need to know the deck really well and be good at memorizing the cards people have shown. But with a casual card game like Junkyard King, being really good at the game is secondary to having fun while playing it.
There are also other cards that let you do things outside of this system, things like exchanging cards between players or making people discard cards. This adds a great element on top of the base rules, which are more like classic playing card game rules, and rely on skills like card counting and memorizing game states. The base game element works really well and the special cards really spice it up. I would have liked even more abilities, maybe the lower valued items ($25-50) could have special abilities to make them more useful? Either way, the game is great fun and we all had a blast.
Junkyard King is fast, fun and simple. It is small and portable and easy to play without a lot of space. By this standard it’d make a great pub game or one that you could play with family members of any age group. The accessible, kitschy theme means that this is one that’s easy to play with “the norms” and that doesn’t require a lot of explanations.
Gamesicle makes “games that entertain and challenge” and are based out of Portland, OR. Visit their website to learn more about the company and to learn more about current and future games.