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Weird Game Review – A Duel Betwixt Us

a-duel-betwixt-us-boxLet’s say you’re a Victorian-era gentleman. Let’s say another Victorian-era gentleman challenges your honor. The only rational response is a duel. I mean, obviously.

First you must decide on the terms of the duel. Will it be bludgeons and codpieces, with cheating allowed? Or will you use a referee to limit the funny business, and stab each other with swords like truly refined men? Or possibly just a birthday suit duel, where you will arrive at the contest wearing only what God gave you and carrying a mighty warhammer?

Speaking of mighty warhammers (and in this context, I mean weapons, not manly parts), you will need to procure your tools of war should you hope to stand a chance in the upcoming fracas. For this, you must employ your miners, who will dig pure ingots from the earth that you may fashion into concealed daggers and sharpened broadswords. The more you prove your manly prowess by beating your opponent senseless with a large fish or closed umbrella, the more miners will come to your side to help you gather the raw materials you need to build only the most noble of helmets and tack hammers. Win your duels, and women will fawn over you, offering your their flowers in recognition of your sheer manly manliness (and by flowers, I mean carnations, as opposed to womanly parts).

If any of that made sense, then you have grasped the basic concept behind A Duel Betwixt Us. Also, if that made sense, you should see a psychiatrist immediately because you are clearly deranged. A Duel Betwixt Us is a silly game with surprising depth and loads of difficult decisions. Possibly the most disturbing thing about the game is not the fact that the theme is absurd. No, the most worrisome part of A Duel Betwixt Us is how intuitively you will understand what you need to do. This is distressing because when you can understand anything this bizarre at a single glance, it may leave some doubt as to the state of your sanity.

Though A Duel Betwixt Us seems to be an absurd, iconoclastic exercise in the irrational, it is actually a remarkably good game. You must manage your increasing resources, spend your ingots with care, save for future events and attempt to be prepared for any eventuality. If your opponent opts for a duel wielding only straight razors or prison shivs, what good will it do that you have amassed a startling collection of deadly claymore swords? None, I say, for you will be defenseless, and your opponent will stab you directly in the fleshy bits.

A limited ability to increase your resource production makes A Duel Betwixt Us far more than a simple fighting game. To have the best weapons, you have to mine the best ingots. Yet miners will be slow to come to your aid, waiting to see you prove your might and manly worth before committing to your cause, and you must thus assign them frugally and with caution. And at the same time that you use your miners to bring in the greatest array of fine metals, you must be able to manipulate circumstances to your benefit.

Perhaps your opponent has managed to craft a wondrous weapon with powerful ingots, and seems poised to rain down ruination upon your lesser form. Aha! But what is this? You can force his terrifying blade to rust, decay and warp, until you can win your violent engagement with just a tiny blade hidden in a toothbrush. Ah, but is your opponent countering by forcing you to duel on his terms? Simply pay the referee to let you cheat and bring that massive bludgeon to bear, embarrassing your foe and his undignified shank.

One note of caution – A Duel Betwixt Us may have the unpleasant capacity to badly outlast the fun it provides. The rules contain a variant with directions for playing a swifter game, and I heartily recommend this course of action. For while exploiting men and seducing women is great sport, it can get tiresome when it goes on for too long, and you will only want to manage your ingots for so long before you really wish someone would win and the game would end so that you can return to a reality where you can simply shoot someone in the gizzards without having to hire strapping lads to pull copper from the earth.

The cards that make up A Duel Betwixt Us bears some of the most delightfully engaging art you will find in a game about 18th-century contests of might. The art looks like it was taken directly from a catalog of absurd woodcuts, and fits the bizarre theme of the game perfectly. Should you wish to engage in a 2-player contest in the manly art of violence, A Duel Betwixt Us will charm and amuse, all while making you incredibly glad you don’t live in that Alice-In-Wonderland wacky world.

Summary

2 players

Pros:
Great art
Surprising depth
Wacky and amusing theme
Much more game than you might think

Cons:
Can get a little long in the tooth

To obtain a copy of A Duel Betwixt Us, you need not engage in needless bloodshed. Simply go to Game Salute:

BRING YOUR CODPIECE

 

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