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Cheating Moth Review


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Posted by Charlie on May 17, 2016

Cheating Moth is the spiritual successor to the outstanding Cockroach Poker. While it shares a similar art direction and style, it's not quite the same experience. Rather than espouse bluffing, this card game is all about the oxymoron of legally cheating.

Dead simple, this is really just a variant on the classic UNO. Players take turns discarding a card from their hand to the central pile, with some special cards triggering effects. You have things like every player reaching to slap the Mosquito and avoid being last. The Ant forces everyone else to draw a card. The Spider lets you give a card from your hand to another player - you get the idea.

The round ends when a player runs out of cards, with everyone else scoring negative points for what's left in their hand; get caught holding the bag and you pay the price. Play as many rounds as you like declaring the ultimate winner at that point.

This game's identity arrives with the notion that cheating is legal. At any point during the game players may cheat away one card at a time. Drop them on the floor, tuck them up your sleeve, or toss them over your shoulder while everyone else is worried about slapping that annoying bug on the pile.

The trick is that one player is the Guard Bug and is keeping an eye out for chicanery. This stalwart can call another out in which case they need to fess up and state whether they were cheating or not. If the Guard Bug called them out successfully they pass off a card to the cheater along with the Guard Bug role, and the cheater retrieves the card they were trying to ditch. Otherwise they have to draw a card from the deck.

It's quirky, fast, and worthy of laughs. Unfortunately the entire charade is more fragile than a pre-teen's ego. Cheating Moth lacks direction and structure. You're only allowed to cheat away a single card at a time, but can I repeatedly dump cards from my hand right when we pick them up and the Guard Bug is looking over his options? Little kludgy breakdowns like this permeate the play space and it can get aggravating for the person stuck with the defensive role who is seemingly excluded from the fun at hand.

Because of this lack of editorial presence in the design, Cheating Moth is 100% group dependent. I've had some great laughs while tossing cards into my lap and distracting the Guard while doing my best David Blaine impression. I've also had people loudly bleat "yuck" right off the starting horn. A single black sheep verbally defecating on the game is enough to shatter the illusion of play and turn the peasants into a mob.

This isn't a terrible game. It simply lacks resiliency and direction, two things that are rightly extolled in modern design.


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