What's Eric Playing?

#131 – Maskmen

Base price: $22.
2 – 6 players.
Play time: ~20 minutes.
BGG Link
Buy on Amazon (via What’s Eric Playing?)
Logged plays: ~20

Alright this has got to be one of the weirdest-themed games I’ve bought. In Maskmen, another one of the Oink Games line, you play as wrestling promoters starting a new wrestling season with total unknowns. You need to figure out how strong they are, and, well, there’s only one way to do that.

Let’s get ready to rumble.

Contents

Setup

There’s no setup for this game, practically. First, set out the Wrestler Masks:

You’ll use those to indicate how the hierarchy of strength begins to form. Next, shuffle the cards:

And deal them out to each player, depending on your player count:

Set aside the Champion Belts; you won’t need them until the end of the season:

Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to start!

Gameplay

This is such a weird little game. So, here’s how each turn goes. Each turn is considered a round, hosted by one player. The host must play one card of their choice. The next player has three choices:

There’s one very important rule: you can never play more than three cards.

Play then continues to the next player. Once every player except for one has passed, the round ends. Set out the masks in a ladder to indicate which wrestlers are now known to be stronger than other wrestlers. The player who played the last card last round is now this round’s host.

As a quick example:

I have three players: A, B, and C. A plays one Blue card, B plays two Green cards, and C plays three Purple cards.

As of right now, Blue -> Green -> Purple, where Purple is the strongest. C is now our host, and C plays a Green card. A plays two Orange cards, and B passes, then C passes. We now know two things:

Blue -> Green -> Purple
Green -> Orange

Since both are stronger than Green and Green is stronger than Blue, we know that Orange and Purple are stronger than Blue, but we do not know if Purple is stronger than Orange or vice-versa.

A is now our host. A plays one Grey card. B plays two Blue cards, and then C plays two Orange cards (since we know Orange is stronger than Blue, since Orange is stronger than Green, which is stronger than Blue). A now plays three Purple cards, cementing Purple as stronger than Orange. We now know this:

Grey -> Blue -> Green -> Orange -> Purple

But how strong is Pink? Nobody knows.

Anyways. Hopefully that example helped elucidate how the game is played. Once any player runs out of cards, the round immediately ends and that player wins the Season! If you’re playing with 3 – 6 players:

The player who got the -1 is the first host of the next season.

Play until four seasons have been played, and the player with the highest score wins! If you’re playing with two players, just play until one player has won three seasons.

Player Count Differences

I’ve tried both the high and low ends of the player count, here, and if I’m being honest I probably prefer it at lower player counts. It’s a bit more strategic and less random when you can guarantee you’ll get one play per round in the earlier rounds, whereas at higher player counts you’re just hoping that nobody plays the card that will wreck you. Also, passing early is a lot more useful in the two- and three-player games, as passing in a two-player game ends the round immediately. Passing early in a five- or six-player game is just a fool’s errand.

I don’t dislike it at any player count, but it’s a lot more chaotic at higher player counts. Still would happily play, though. That said, I’ve been playing it a preposterous amount at two players (to the point that we’ve started just playing “rounds” rather than full games, a la Spyfall), and I think it’s dynamite at two.

Strategy

Pros, Mehs, and Cons

Pros

Mehs

Cons

Overall: 8 / 10

Overall, Maskmen is a lot of fun! I know there are some complaints that the back half of a season can be kind of a slog (since you’re just trying to figure out how to play cards such that you can win), but I find that kind of interesting, personally? I’m also a huge fan of the theme and find it to be an interesting little game, so that kind of redeems the slower parts, in my eyes. Sure, I wouldn’t recommend playing it with your analysis-paralysis-prone game friends, but … there aren’t a ton of games that mitigate that concern well, so I’m not going to penalize Maskmen for it. Anyways, if you’re looking for something a bit off the wall and you like bright colors and flashy wrestlers, check out Maskmen!