21 September 2022
An amusing anomaly
New trading card games come and go. Often they’re attempting to take on Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh! in some way – and fail spectacularly (even if they’re loved by their individual communities). So MetaZoo, with its sometimes charming artwork and somewhat basic presentation feels like a standout from the usual crowd. In MetaZoo the basic system is a mix of Magic (play Aura and tap it to spend it to summon creature) and Yu-Gi-Oh! (there’s a kind of trap card feature) and Pokémon (they’re funny little critters with elemental damage modifiers).
But what the game is best known for is the location and situational effects. Players can play these effects into a central, shared, row – these might be cards like ‘night’ or ‘rain’ etc. Once these are played, various cards in your deck might have a conditional effect like ‘if it’s raining, return a selected card to that opponent’s hand’. What’s more fun however, is that effect can be played if it’s actually raining outside.
That’s right, the environmental triggers for many of the game effects are pulled from the real world. This can include the slightly creepy ‘if there is a man-made tunnel within one mile’ effects of one of the dark cards, to the party-game-alike ‘when you attack with the creature, if your opponent doesn’t say ‘gee whizz it’s chilly’ the creature becomes frozen’, to some effects that rely on your opponent crying, or penalising them for yawning.
It’s great fun opening packs, flicking through, laughing at the weird environmental triggers and maybe doing a bit of deck crafting to pull something amusing together. And cracking open a premade deck with no preconceptions is hilarious too. Revealing some weird stipulation of a card to your opponent is particularly funny with plenty of that “no way, let me read that,” before they have to concede, yes way, indeed.
This is all silly, and novel, and would – we imagine – be quite good if you were going away camping or some other trip. The idea of a couple of siblings building decks for their holiday based on their limited knowledge of the local area is appealing. Of course, if it relied on one of them crying, that might not be so good for the getaway. All of this speculation aside, we need to answer the question of, ‘is it good?’
And the answer is, not really. It’s got a good heart, and the addition of the environmental cards makes for more consistent play, but it’s a bit of a drag. It suffers from a lack of draw and a very familiar feel to the game. Games can slow to a chugging along of combat exchanges – which tends to take away some of the fun of the weird effects it offers.
Is this going to replace your favourite card game? No, it’s not. But for those who fancy exploring the weirdness of the game, there’s a lot to like. We hope one day a boxed version of the game exists that doesn’t rely on boosters so that everyone can get a blast of this oddity without the threat of developing an expensive habit.
Christopher John Eggett
PLAY IT? MAYBE
If you’re someone enamoured by novelty, and enjoy a bit of deck crafting where you can really make for some totally broken and overpowered plays, then MetaZoo is worth investigating. For players who like a game that functions beyond its laughs, then it’s best to give it a miss.
TRY THIS IF YOU LIKED Magic: The Gathering…
If you’ve enjoyed the classic format of Magic then you may enjoy the bonkers approach to this card game.
Designer: Michael Waddell
Publisher: MetaZoo Games LLC
Time: 20-60 minutes
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This review came from Tabletop Gaming Magazine, which is home to all of the latest and greatest tabletop goodness. Whether you're a board gamer, card gamer, wargamer, RPG player or all of the above, find your copy here.Get your magazine here
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