Stuff and Nonsense is a board game for two to six players ages 12 and up. It’s designed by James Ernest with art by Harold Fay, and it plays in about 40 minutes. It’s published by Cheapass Games and retails for $25, but can be found online for around $16.50.
The subtitle of the Stuff and Nonsense is “The inevitable aftermath of Professor Elemental’s imaginary polar expedition.” Emphasis on imaginary.
In Stuff and Nonsense, players take on the roles of would-be adventurers in the London of days gone by. The trouble is, they’ve never been anywhere. But they take their cues from Professor Elemental, who never let his lack of travel stop him from telling tales at The Adventurer’s Club.
How it works:
Players buy cards with artifacts, specimens, and photographs at various shops on the board, which is made up of cards. They meet heroes at the pub, pick up anecdotes at the cafe, and learn facts at the news stand.
They try to match the cards they’ve bought with the regions they’re pretending to visit. Each region requires a different number of cards, and two of the same type of card cannot be played.
Players take their cards to The Adventurer’s Club and spin tales with the text on the cards. More creative players may decide to make up their own. They get the points listed on the cards, then head out to find more items for their stories.
The Adventurer’s Club gets bored easily, so the more tales from one region, the less excited they are to hear about it again, thus that region will be worth fewer points.
Meanwhile, Professor Elemental circles the board, stealing cards from players or forcing them to forfeit points.
Play continues to a specified number of points depending on the number of players. The adventurer with the most points wins.
Why you might buy Stuff and Nonsense:
This game is admittedly silly, and the cards are genuinely funny.
They’ll always be played in different combinations, so they’ll still get laughs after they’ve been read a few times.
And because the cards have pictures on them, players can make up their own story to fit their adventure if they do get tired of reading the text.
Despite its lightheartedness, there’s a good amount of strategy in Stuff and Nonsense. Some regions are worth much more than others, but those require lots more cards in order to tell a story.
You have to decide whether to go for lots of stories with a few points each or collect more cards and get points all at once.
Going for a card you want may risk giving away a card to Professor Elemental, and you may want to go to The Adventurer’s Club to force the professor to the location of one of your opponents.
There’s not much in the way of direct interaction with other players, but you can watch what others are doing and take cards you think they want. Of course, they can do the same to you.
There’s a good balance of luck and strategy in the game.
While the retail price feels a bit steep, the actual store price is quite reasonable.
Why you might not buy Stuff and Nonsense:
This is a silly game. If you like your games to be serious, you probably won’t like this one.
You’ll need the right group of people to play this game, since a lot of the fun is in the storytelling. But the cards give you the story if you’re not so creative.
The game seems to take a little too long. That’s easily remedied by reducing the number of points needed to win, but it might upset the balance for players working on more difficult regions.
If you want a pure strategy game, this isn’t it.
This game makes me laugh every time I play it. It is perfect for my sense of humor.
But I like that there’s a good game underneath the jokes. It’s simple to learn and simple to teach, but there’s plenty to keep me coming back.
Full disclosure: I got a review copy of Stuff and Nonsense from Cheapass Games. I was not required to write a positive review. These are my honest opinions.