Tag Archives: Steve Jackson Games

“This Hunt is Doomed!”: Playing Nanuk from Steve Jackson Games

Nanuk, from Steve Jackson Games

Nanuk, from Steve Jackson Games

A couple of Fridays ago, at the store’s weekly games night, we played Nanuk from Steve Jackson Games.  I am embarrassed to say that I had never heard of Nanuk before that, having completely overlooked it in the SJ Games catalogue. Nanuk was designed by Brett Myers and Mark Goadrich, and illustrated by Alex Fernandez. (Goadrich is an associate professor of Mathematics and Computer Science at Hendrix College in Arkansas, while Myers is a game designer from Madison, Wisconsin.)

The word Inukshuk means "to act in the capacity of a human."

The word Inukshuk means “to act in the capacity of a human.”

Nanuk is a push-your-luck game with an intriguing twist.  Players are Inuit hunters, and the object of the game is to have a successful hunt.  Each player is dealt a hand of cards depicting seals, deer, birds, fish, and inukshuks.  Players “boast” about the spoils of their upcoming hunt, with each player forced either to up the ante by betting that he will bag more game than the preceding player, or by increasing the duration of the hunt.  The bidding stops when a player calls the bluff by saying that the hunt is doomed to fail.  The player who calls doom becomes the Doom Leader, and the player whose bid was highest at the moment that doom was called becomes the Hunt Leader. At this point, players use a token to simultaneously reveal whether they will be part of the hunt or whether they prefer to remain on the sidelines (believing it to be doomed);  if they believe that the hunt will fail, they must contribute one card (face-down) which is kept before them until the hunt is resolved.

Nanuk Cards

Nanuk Cards (without deer)

The members of the Hunt then contribute cards, face down, to a pool that will represent the animals collected.  The Hunt Leader mixes the cards up, then reveals them one by one. Cards that match the target animal of the Hunt count towards the required total, whatever it is. Non-matching animals have no effect on the total.  Inukshuk cards are used to protect the hunt against Nanuk the Polar Bear.

After the cards are tallied, then one card is taken from the draw pile for each day of the hunt. Any card that bears a small polar bear symbol in the corner represents Nanuk, and if such a card is drawn during this phase the hunt will fail unless the pool of contributed cards contains an Inukshuk.  So, if a hunt requires six deer in five days in order to be successful, the players who join the hunt will first pool their chosen cards, to be revealed by the Hunt Leader. Five cards are then drawn, one for each day of the hunt, whether or not the six deer requirement has already been met in the pooled cards.

Counters used in Nanuk

Counters used in Nanuk

If the Hunt is a success (i.e. Nanuk either did not turn up or there were sufficient Inukshuks in the pool to deal with him), then the members of the Hunt share the spoils, including the face-down cards anted by those players who did not take part.  Cards are shared out with each hunter in turn choosing a card from the pool, until each has received an equal number of cards. Any extras are discarded. The shared-out cards are placed face-up before each player, grouped by kind.  Likewise, if a Hunt fails, the Doomsayers will share out the pooled cards, the drawn cards, and the anted cards in the same way.

Scoring for the game is strategic. Players are trying to collect pairs and sets, with each pair being worth one point and each set of four different animals being worth three. Inukshuks are wild cards.

I really liked this game. It has an interesting combination of bluffing and betting, with the added dimension of being able to join a hunt with the express intention of sabotaging the effort (and thus undermining the game play of the Hunt Leader).  This is a clever game that will stand up to many gaming sessions.  Many thanks to Jared Budd and Jack Schwarz, our local Men in Black from Steve Jackson Games, who brought this game along and taught it (and I’m pretty sure that one of them won each of the games we played, too!)


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May We Introduce … Game Nights at Scalliwags!


Photoshop your face onto one of these players. Or better yet, come down and play!

You asked, we listened.

Starting Friday 18 October, we’ll be hosting a weekly Games Night here at Scalliwag Toys. Every week we’ll feature a different game, with a brief introduction and run-through. You can then go on and play that game (if space permits) or, if you prefer, choose another of our demo games and play that instead. You can even bring your own game to play if you want!

Here are the basic ground rules, as far as we’ve thought them out:

  • We’ll be set and ready to go at 7:00 p.m., and we’ll start shutting things down at 9:00 p.m.
  • We reserve the right to limit the number of players to the number of seats we have available.
  • Our supply of games, while large (and growing) is not inexhaustible. If you really want to play the game we’re featuring, call ahead to reserve a seat.
  • Due to time constraints, we will be concentrating on games that can be played in under two hours. We recommend that any games you bring from home fit that time frame.
  • There will be a game-related door prize weekly.
  • Coffee and a selection of teas will be available for a nominal small tiny charge.

And because we know that everyone loves a bargain, the weekly featured game will be 20% off to any player if purchased (or ordered) by closing time Saturday.


Since we’ll be starting just a couple of weeks before Halloween, the game scheduled for 18 October will be the darkly-funny Gloom (Atlas Games, 2004). This innovative card game is all about visiting horrible things upon your own “family” of characters, and good things upon your opponents’ families. (Because, in this case, bad is good and good is bad.  If you follow me.) You can read my capsule review from an earlier blog post here.  Or, if you prefer the slick, Hollywood version of things, you can watch Wil Wheaton and friends play and explain Gloom on this episode of Tabletop. Or do both — but then come down and play!

munchkin zombies

Just a few of the Munchkin Zombies cards. Braaaaiiiinnnns!

On the same night, our friends Jared and Jason, local Men in Black from Steve Jackson Games, will also be on hand if people want to learn — or just to play —Munchkin Zombies. If you’ve never played Munchkin before and you want to get a taste of what it’s like, you can head on over to the Rigged Flash Demo on the Steve Jackson Games website. (Hint: in the flash game, the computer player always wins. It’s a Rigged Demo! But the sheer number of cards in the real games means that almost anything can happen.)

On 25 October, we’ll be playing Munchkin Bites, from Steve Jackson Games, once again with the help of Jason and Jared.  (Since it’s just a few days before Halloween, should we award extra points if you show up in costume?) And on 1 November, we’ll be taking 7 Wonders (Asmodée Games) out for a spin. You can cram before the test by reading my 7 Wonders game review here.

Each week’s featured game will be posted well in advance on the Scalliwag Toys Google Calendar, which you can find here. We’re also more than happy to take suggestions. See you soon!

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Coming Soon: Munchkin Gets Promoted


Sample Cards from Munchkin Gets Promoted

Munchkin Gets Promoted

For all you Munchkin fans out there who seldom rarely never get to game cons and other venues where special  promo give-aways are common,  Steve Jackson Games has  taken a dozen of their favorite Munchkin promo cards and made a new booster pack out of them . . . and, for good measure, they included three NEW cards, never before available! This booster set is due to launch in December 2013.

This set will include:

  • Curse! Zombification
  • Cut In Line
  • Henchmonster
  • John of the Dead
  • The Last Laugh
  • Love Thy Neighbor
  • Mug The Shopkeeper
  • Ranger Hireling
  • Stacked Deck
  • Step-And-A-Half
  • Whim of the Elder Gods
  • Zombie Santa

It also has three NEW cards: Billiard Ball of Nonexistence, Get A Head, and the titular Get Promoted!

Foil pack containing 15 cards.  Stock #4239. Canadian price to be determined, but the tentative US price is $4.95.

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Play More Games! International Tabletop Day 2013

#tabletopday 🙂

This coming Saturday, 30 March 2013, marks the very first International Tabletop Day (hashtag #tabletopday).  The event was the brainchild of Felicia Day, who is the creative force behind the YouTube channel Geek & Sundry.  Geek & Sundry is the home of the incredibly-popular gaming show Tabletop, where Wil Wheaton (Star Trek, Big Bang Theory, and more) and a rotating cast of friends play, explain, and critique various board and card games.

Gaming stores, clubs, and groups of gamers will be celebrating International Tabletop Day all over the world.  The event’s website has a comprehensive events list (click on ‘full events list’ on the right-hand side of the page in order to get a working search function) that you can use in order to find venues near you.

Here at Scalliwags, we’ll be playing Munchkin and Zombie Dice with Nicholas Laporte-Papp, a representative from Steve Jackson Games.  We’ll also dig out Carcassonne, an award-winning strategy game now published by Z-Man, and maybe 7 Wonders (my current fave game – see my review here).  We’ll also have some Warhammer figures glued, based, and base-coated for anyone who might want to try his or her hand at painting a model.


Special LE Gloom Card Featuring Wil Wheaton

Do drop by if you can!  We’ll be up and running from 11:00 a.m. till about 4:00 p.m.  There will be special game goodies on hand, like the limited-edition game cards for Gloom featuring none other than Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day as characters! We’ll be tweeting throughout the day, letting you know what’s happening and when.

See you Saturday!

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