This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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# of Players: 2-7
Gamer Type: Casual/Party
Game Type: Casual/Party/NSFW
Complexity: 4 (Gateway)
When it comes to college party games, offensive is the new “buzzword.” This means game companies need to walk a fine line between games that will push the limits of people’s comfort zones while not crossing over the line to games that are hateful, hurtful, or just plain mean. Virtue Signal tiptoes down this line, with a subject matter some will say goes beyond the line while others will say it’s just plain funny. Regardless of what side of the line you fall on, the tongue-in-cheek cards and the subject matter are sure to trigger someone at the table, which lets you see if they are an adult or not and can handle the satire that is guaranteed by the First Amendment.
Virtue Signal makes no qualms that its story is the story of present-day American Liberal politics. Also very clear is it will poke fun at those politics. With a 1-star review from a minor Liberal publication prominently displayed on its cover, Virtue Signal dives in headfirst into today’s culture war.
The story is simple. Players are a group within the President Barack Obama’s style coalition. You are looking to build your own coalition of power to challenge the establishment of this country. The groups themselves are caricatures of some of the most extreme left-wing movements in the United States. Only they have been watered down to make them less offensive. The comedy of the story resides in the objective to win at the game. The goal is not to build a coalition around your values, but to work with anyone to win. This is a testament to modern politics on both sides of the aisle. Since the game play doesn’t go much deeper than that, the game receives a score of 5 out of 10 for the story.
The artwork of the game is cartoonish, which plays well with a satire game. Some of the cards go beyond the “name” to identify the group portrayed- which walks the game down a dangerous slope. Another set of cards display different microaggressions players could be accused of using during the game. Otherwise, the artwork is fun and adds to the game, which earns Virtue Signal a 6.5 out of 10 for artwork.
The mechanics of the game are reminiscent of the game Illuminati. That game was a mathematician’s dream and a speed gamer’s nightmare as players spent more time counting money and power than actually playing the game. What made Illuminati frustrating was after you had counted everything, another player could interject and stop the play making the counting pointless.
These mechanical problems are not present in Virtue Signal. The game has streamlined the coalition format and added some mechanics to keep the teams from becoming too easy to build. With a card flip (placement not physically flipping) mechanic, the coalitions extend from the center with relative order. The “microaggression” and “virtue signaling” mechanics help things move along. Finally, the jobs keep the game interesting. Overall, this earns Virtue Signal a 6 out of 10 for mechanics.
The strategy of this game, like many other party games, is quite simple. Your goal is to get to 15 points as quickly as possible. While there are times when you can use your attack and defense cards to attack/defend, the game is built around building your coalitions. This means other than card placement, it’s a rush to the end. Once again, this is a party game, so simple is good (especially when drinking). The earns VS a score of 4 out of 10 for strategy.
For novelty, and the cajones to print the game, VS earns a score of 7 out of 10. This is a very unique game and the mechanics are an evolution of a classic Steve Jackson game. The limiting factor in this game is that the simplicity does not add to the novelty, which makes it a card flopper. With an overall score of 28.5, VS is a good little party game. Just make sure that you do not play with people who are easily offended. If you are a college student looking for a fun game, this is one. Be careful because you might find yourself and others triggered by some of the jokes.