Print and Play

Page Quest

A few weeks ago, I backed Page Quest on Kickstarter.  The game was delivered within a few weeks of the campaign ending.  How did they manage to deliver so quickly?  It was a Print and Play (PnP) game.

I was emailed a link to download the files, I printed them out and ‘made’ the game myself.  It’s the first time I’ve ever had a go at a PnP game.  Is it worth doing?  The financial commitment is obviously pretty low, but can you really get much enjoyment out of a game you’ve printed out yourself?  Let’s have a look…

There were a couple of novel elements to the Page Quest Kickstarter that intrigued me straight away.  It’s an adventure game (I’m always a sucker for those), but unusually, the entire adventure has been designed to take place on a single sheet of paper.

I liked the artwork, which is pretty important to me for any game, but the page looks like a comic strip.  You choose a character, start at the top left and gradually progress from one scene to the next along the strip until you either die or accomplish your mission and make it to the end of the page.

Each month, the publisher sends you a new mission.

The other interesting aspect is that it’s a campaign game.  Each month, the publisher sends you a new mission to complete.  Your characters level up between missions and gradually get stronger while the missions become more challenging.

Although all the action takes place on a single page, there are a host of other materials that you get in the pack:  a rule book, a briefing for the mission (which provides some backstory), character sheets to track health and stats, some standees and a player aid.

Page Quest boardI probably didn’t need to, but I quite enjoyed going the extra mile with my ‘production’.  My son helped me and it was like a little father-and-son craft project.  I printed out all the content on our colour printer at work and then my son helped me cut out and laminate many of the components.

You need a few other readily available components such as dice and cubes so we raided a couple of games to get the things we needed and set everything up on the table.  There was a nice introduction to the mission, which I eventually managed to persuade my son to read out in his best dramatic voice over breakfast.

The game itself has a nice dice activation mechanism at its core.  You roll a bunch of dice and add them to an available pool.  Each time you move to the next location in the comic strip, you can take an available action (represented by icons on the location) by spending one of the dice.

Actions include searching for items, hunting for food, meditating (which allows you to manipulate the dice in the pool) and resting, which is how you get dice back after they’ve been spent.  You need to spend food in order to rest though, so there’s a constant tension between using dice to achieve your objectives and obtaining enough food to make sure you can rest when you need to.

Of course, you also get ambushed by enemies every now and then and there’s a simple combat resolution system that has you rolling dice.  It’s a little swingy (we died due to a couple of bad rolls in a row in our first playthrough), but it does the job well enough.

It was very Indiana-Jonesy.

We really enjoyed ourselves.  Planning which actions you should take (you don’t have time to take them all), and looking further down the comic strip to work out what we’ll need later was an engaging little puzzle.  The characters felt reasonably fleshed out and I appreciated the 90s setting.  It was very Indiana-Jonesy.

All in all, I would consider my first foray into PnP games a resounding success!  I’m looking forward to continuing the campaign when the next mission arrives.

It made me wonder why the publisher decided to use PnP, rather than manufacture the game, but it actually makes a lot of sense here.  Aside from sheets of paper, there are very few components required and they are easy to obtain (eg. dice).  Opting for PnP allows the publisher to reach a widespread audience very quickly (the Page Quest Kickstarter had over 1000 backers).

Have you ever tried a PnP game?  Do you have any recommendations?

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Jonathan Hicks

Jonathan is the director of Maven Games. He blogs and records podcast episodes several times a week. Whenever he isn't doing anything else, he designs games.

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