Spewing into each other’s mouth: Zach Gage’s Guts of Glory brings PAR together
“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with hot sauce and eating contests.” - Albert Einstein (modified) The apocalypse has come and gone. The world as we know it has been replaced by a savage, brutalized landscape devoid of almost all life and pleasantries. Creatures – possibly human, possibly not – have a single means of gaining recognition and glory: extreme eating. This is the world of Zach Gage's card game Guts of Glory, and it is glorious. The Penny Arcade Report sat down with Gage and his Guts of Glory prototype at PAX Prime. We entered the arena as friends and co-workers, but left as hungry beasts who had viciously tore into our “meals” of tires, bones, and metal. We spewed food across the table, into our opponent's mouth in an attempt to further our own trek toward glory, but in the end only one could emerge victorious.The setup of Guts of Glory is simple, and inspired by deck-building games such as Ascension and Magic: The Gathering, but Gage wanted his game to be simpler, easier to pick up. “What I really liked was the weird combo-y bits, and not so much the part where you have to learn 300 cards and understand the whole system,” Gage told the Penny Arcade Report. “I wanted to make a card game that had that deck-buildy feel, but didn't have the 'I need to deal with a massive system.' [Guts of Glory] is more tactical and aggressive.” Guts of Glory is both competitive and silly. After explaining basic rules and guidelines, Ben Kuchera and I waited to see who would go first. “The hungriest person plays first, and if neither person is hungry, the angriest person plays first,” Gage told us. Ben and I looked at each other. I had just eaten a sandwich, but I can also have a pretty monstrous appetite. We joked about each other's anger levels and bitterness toward the world. By making something as abstract and absurd as hunger be the dictating rule of turn order, the game is social and lighthearted from the first move. After some mild debate, I ended up going first. There are two types of cards in Guts of Glory: food and condiments. A central plate contains both food and condiments for a total of three cards drawn from the top of a deck, and is re-filled each turn. Any card from the plate can be placed into a player's “hand.” The hand you hold isn't truly a hand at all, however. It's a mouth. The mouth holds five cards: three condiments for the tongue, two foods for the teeth. I drew two tapeworms and a right hand glove for our starting plate. The cards have illustrations of each item drawn in a style reminiscent of Klasky Csupo cartoons. Above food items you'll see a toughness score and number of glory, while underneath the picture are descriptions of the card's powers. Each food has a slot for “in your mouth power” and a slot for “swallow power.” Tapeworms, for example, are a basic food card with a toughness of four. That means it will take four chews in order to swallow the worm. There are no bonuses to keeping the worm in your mouth, but once you swallow it, you must feed yourself immediately. Swallowing the worm also grants a point of glory, and the game ends when the first player gains seven glory points. A player chews by marking each card with an icon designed to represent one chew. Since this was Gage's unfinished version, we used pink cubes. Gage said the final version will have a design to match that of the card. A player can only chew twice per turn, and only place one chew marker on a given card, unless powers change that. Hot, Hot, Hot Sauce, for example, when kept on the tongue and not swallowed, allows a player to place two chews on a single condiment. What items you keep in your mouth, what items you decide to chew and ultimately swallow, and their effects when held or swallowed, all work together to make up the game's strategy. If a player's mouth is full, they have to spew forth a card into another player's mouth. Spewing attaches one glory point to the card, regardless of whether it's a condiment or food item. “It's way more glorious to eat a food that's been spewed at you than to eat a food off a plate,” Gage explained. If a player spews food at you and your mouth is full, you can choose to not take it or to spew something back to make room. But if your mouth has room, you have to accept the card. “This is a gentleman's contest and it is honorable to take cards when spewed at you if you have space,” Gage said. The cards are grotesque, imaginative and funny. The Hot, Hot, Hot Sauce may be the tamest of the bunch. Others include gloves, motor oil, tires of doom, tongues, refrigerators, and laser teeth. There's even a jab at Twinkies in the game, as a card called Snack Product. Should you swallow a Snack Product, you must immediately spew. “Because snack products are disgusting,” Gage said. “It's the only disgusting item in the post-apocalypse.” The Penny Arcade Report's Guts of Glory food fight was fast-paced and fun, with Ben Kuchera as the ultimate victor. Gage is funding the final version of the game through his Guts of Glory Kickstarter page, and there is still time to pick up your own copy.