Dawn peeks through the trees and into the window of your tiny mushroom hut. It’s time to wake up and plow the fields! You gather your tools, kiss your beautiful Gub wife and baby goodbye, walk to your tiny adorable field, and begin to work. Then, there’s a problem! Apparently, one of your neighbors heard from his aunt that a wasp might possibly be within one hundred yards of the village, and this has caused the entire military to flee into the woods where they were quickly devoured by a roaming soap bubble. Without the guards there to protect her from herself, your wife noticed something shiny a few feet away and wandered off a cliff. Just when you thought your life was in utter shambles, a sudden flood washes your tiny body away, and you drown while simultaneously being stuck by lightning.
This is the typical life of a Gub, and it’s nearly almost as excruciating as playing the game.
Gubs, designed by Alex and Cole Medeiros and published by Gamewright Games, is nominally billed as a “Game of Wit and Luck”, and I have yet to stop laughing at the irony of that. Over the course of the game, players draw one card and play any number of cards a turn, trying to accumulate of population of Gubs, little Smurf-like slug men, to their village. On the surface, that sounds easy. Draw card, play card, do what it says, score points. The problem is that the deck is also loaded with random natural disasters and other controlled maladies that make keeping even one or two Gubs alive is fucking impossible. Even when you think you’re in the lead, you run the risk at any time of drawing a Flash Flood, which will make you mandatorily murder your entire village. This is all before you take into account that the other players will be trying to lure your Gubs into turning traitor, or, more likely, just skewering them through the chest with a spear.
The final result is a totally unbalanced mess. What should be a cute, kid-friendly game about city building is instead a constant stream of random carnage, death, and horror. Nothing you do matters, kids, your Gubs are going to die, and I’d bet quickly. Don’t have dreams or ambitions, the universe is just gonna shit on them! Everything sucks and then you die! The whole planet is falling apart at the seams!
I should mention that don’t want to be unduly hard on this game. Gamewright’s production is pretty great, the components are top-notch (although our demo copy inexplicably reeked of gasoline?), and Medeiros’ new game, Web of Spies, looks really interesting. I’m not ready to totally write them off. Gubs is just a busted game, though. It’s just really bad.