Following my review of Hero's Crossing, I fell out of contact with developer Brian Sowers of One Method Monkey — something that often happens after a game has released. I then heard from him again prior to Play NYC 2019 with the good news that he would be there with a brand new tabletop game that's in development. Before I knew it, I had a copy of the game in hand and was excited to get going with a Hey Cutie preview.
Hey Cutie is a dating sim in a box, and I was curious to see exactly how this kind of game would play out. I've played one or two dating sims on the PC, and I could think of a few different ways that it could play out in terms of tabletop mechanics. Did One Method Monkey manage to pull it off? Read on to find out!
Hey Cutie Preview — Getting Ready for Your First DateThe premise of Hey Cutie is simple: you and your friends are out on the town trying to date a bunch of cute boys and girls. Each of these "crushes" has things that they like and things that they don't, so you want to try to maximize your appeal to pick them up. It sounds simple in theory. In practice, it's almost as challenging as real-world dating.
Players begin the game by selecting their character; these oversized cards are mainly used to keep track of your stats and not much else. I had hoped that each of the characters would have a man on one side and a woman on the other, but the double-sided cards had the same art. I had asked Mr. Sowers about this at Play NYC 2019, and he had replied, quite simply, that it was a matter of the cost of getting twice as much art done. (One hopes that we might see this as a stretch goal for the upcoming Kickstarter!)
Each character card has icons representing the four stats (charm, brain, edge, and looks) and money. You get two markers to place on two of the spaces seen in the character card above, and the four icons on these two spaces determine the cards you can buy at the start of your turn. These markers can be moved horizontally or vertically once per turn; alternatively, you can elect to move one marker twice or make no moves at all.
Aside from getting some starting cards, you'll also get a secret "Type" card. This card confers certain bonuses for the four stats, giving each player something to focus on in terms of their Crushes. The end of the game will add up the stat points of all the crushes you successfully wooed, and this Type bonus could very well win you the game in a tight race.
Hey Cutie Preview — Thinking on the FlyOnce the game begins proper, the player with the "First Player" card goes first (as one might expect). Each turn is a relatively simple process:
- Move one stat marker one space apiece, move one stat marker two spaces, or don't move any stat markers.
- Use the icons under the two marked spaces to buy cards.
- Restock the cards on the table.
- Buy Items and/or Powers.
- Woo a Crush by using Powers and playing Flirt cards.
- Discard down to 8 cards.
Each crush has their own preferred stats and Flirt cards can range from 1–4 points and you'll need to match all of the desired stats to woo a Crush, so it isn't unusual for you to end your attempt without a date. (Just like real life!) Players will go back and forth until someone hits the magic number of five Crushes (or fewer, in games with more players) and the points are all added up. Whoever scores the most points wins!
Hey Cutie Preview — The More Money We Come AcrossThe dynamics of Flirt cards alone would have probably made this Hey Cutie preview simple enough, but even a simple game from One Method Monkey has to add a little variety. Firstly, the Flirt cards have ranges of 1–3 points, and you can only really tell the "type" of the card when looking at the back. Also buried in here are the rare Wild cards that are worth four points of any stat of your choice. This particular card can and does win games.
In a further reflection of reality, acquiring money can be used to make you (temporarily) more powerful or kit you out in nice clothes. I didn't make too much use of the Powers, but these one-off cards can instantly swing a losing situation in your favor. Unfortunately, you'll need to spend some of your precious stat allocation to get the money needed to buy them and there may not always be money on the board.
Outfits and accessories, however, are much more useful in my opinion. Some of these just give you an outright permanent buff to one of your stats. Get one that's aligned with your preferred type and you can have something that can be a supremely useful edge. There are also "offensive" accessories that can be applied to the other player, and that's where my troubles began.
Hey Cutie Preview — Fashion DisastersAs I've said before, there are two types of Item cards: outfits and accessories. The beginning of our first game had three outfits on the board and it stayed that way for some time due to sheer bad luck.
The bad luck continued, although it was mainly for me. My opponent had drawn the "Fedora" card, an accessory that is equipped on your opponent. As long as you wear it, you are unable to date anyone (once again, just like real life!). Continually unlucky draws in the pool of available cards meant that I was essentially crippled for the latter half of our first game.
I reached out to Brian Sowers about this issue, and he suggested a temporary rule patch to prevent what happened to me from happening ever again. It was a little disappointing to have the first game go down like that, but that's what happens sometimes when the rules are still being playtested.
Regrettably, I didn't get to spend as much time with the game as I would have liked for my Hey Cutie preview due to scheduling conflicts with my tabletop group. I made the most of the time I had though, and had some challenging, competitive experiences. I was only able to play two-player games, but Hey Cutie's rules support up to six people.
The story doesn't end with my Hey Cutie preview, though! This game will be making its way to Kickstarter in the very near future. I think it's an easy enough game to pick up that's a heck of a lot of fun. If this sounds like your kind of jam, you might want to pick up a copy when your chance comes.
The pre-production copy of Hey Cutie used for this preview was provided by One Method Monkey.