I first met Saturday Morning Games developer James Seetal at Play NYC 2017 where he was showing off his game at a tiny, dark table in Manhattan's Terminal 5. It seemed like an interesting premise, and this year I was fortunate to be able to follow up with Mr. Seetal and pick up my very own preview copy of the game to check out. I sat down with my tabletop group and went through a few rounds of Saturday Morning Games.
Gameplay in Saturday Morning Games is relatively straightforward. Players are handed ten cereal tokens, two standees, two weapon cards, and three action cards. The cereal tokens represent your life and are spent in a few circumstances or stolen when you're attacked. The standees are used to mark which weapon(s) you're getting ready to use. The weapon cards are two face-up weapons in front of you, and the action cards are used to activate the weapons or do one of a few different special effects.
All of the cards in the game are classic cartoon tropes with the serial numbers filed off. The names of characters & weapons and the icons used on the standees are very familiar to fans of '80s cartoons but (quite importantly) legally-distinct parodies. You and I will both know who the Barbarian Who Has The Power is, but nobody is gonna get sued over that one.
Players are trying to match up a weapon on the table with the appropriate black character card and white action card. Weapon cards have a distinct symbol on them and you can only use white and black cards that match that symbol. Once you have all three cards together, you can attack one of the other players in the game.
Defensive options in Saturday Morning Games are limited but not entirely nonexistent. A handful of special cards can be played as an action and then activated as a free move at any time to increase the power of an attack or reduce the damage from an incoming attack. These were occasionally the deciding factor in the dozens of fights we experienced in our gameplay session.
Block cards also allow you to slow down an enemy by just a little bit. A weapon that's been blocked can't be used again until someone puts the required amount of cereal bowl tokens on it. The tokens are given to the player who used the weapon after an attack has been completed.
Saturday Morning Games moves at a very fast pace. Players have only 10 cereal bowl tokens apiece and there are a handful of weapons in the game with 10 or more damage, although they are somewhat rare. We certainly had a few games where a player was knocked out in the first few turns, and one of the games was over in just a few minutes as a player managed to ready a powerful weapon and sweep the entire board. I think this fast, casual pace is part of the nature of the game and is totally okay by me. One of my players was not as fond of it, largely because he just doesn't enjoy games where power can ramp up rather quickly.
We had to make use of the rules currently listed on the game's Kickstarter page. A few situations have come up where the rules really didn't address them and we had to ask the developer what to do or cook up a house rule on the spot. That said, these are relatively tiny issues that could probably be corrected without too much work. The important part is that the game feels fair and is a boatload of fun, even though players can occasionally draw absurdly-powerful weapons every now and again.
I spent a couple of hours playing Saturday Morning Games with my tabletop group. Some rounds ended in a few minutes and some took a good bit longer. We had fun throughout, and I think it'll probably make for a fine casual card game once the rules are completed.
The copy of Saturday Morning Games used for this preview was provided by the developer.
What do you think of Saturday Morning Games? Do you like the idea of a casual card battle game or do you prefer for them to have some more complexity? Let us know in the comments below! Check out what else we saw at Play NYC by going to our Play NYC 2018 Coverage Hub.