For this third instalment of the Red Cardpet Series my focus turns to classic European movies which would make good boardgames.
Spaghetti westerns are already well represented with Bang! and there’s already been a Monty Python and the Holy Grail CCG (which I seem to remember having back in the day). But if Ravensburger can turn classic Teutonic Xmas favorite Dinner For One into a party game then why not one of the following? Are you listening Prospero Hall?
Going all the way back here. I thought about going with Fritz Lang’s other classic, 1927’s Metropolis, but the opportunity for a game where you get to talk like Peter Lorre all evening is too good to pass up. Arguably the template from which all later police procedurals have been struck, M’s is a cat-and-mouse chase around a nameless German city, with the police trying to track and hunt down a deranged child-murderer. Think Fury of Dracula, not Scotland Yard.
Soviet auteur Andrei Tartovsky’s sci-fi/psychological horror masterpiece would make an excellent Unlock-type adventure. Three players are attempting to break into a forbidden alien Zone which apparently grants wishes: a writer looking for inspiration; a scientist wanting to study the aliens; and their guide The Stalker, who’s just obsessed. The twist would be that each player has secret victory conditions revealed only to them at the beginning of the scenario, which will influence the decisions they want the group to make.
Not the (admittedly also excellent) 1994 movie Leon: le professionnel which marked Natalie Portman’s screen debut, this 1981 thriller starring French icon Jean-Paul Belmondo would be an asymmetric two-player card game with one player taking Belmondo’s role of betrayed secret agent Joss on the run in Paris and the other playing the Sûreté desperate to stop him from carrying out his (now-cancelled) mission to assassinate a foreign dignitary. Joss has to track down and kill his target; the Police have a limited ability to control the target’s random movement around the city, so there are plenty of opportunities to set up tense ambushes and glorious chase scenes.
This Danish movie is full of repressed sensuality expressed through the art of cooking. It would be a solo game about preparing the most sumptuous meal you can for your employers, whose tastes would be randomized every game. Time, not money, would be the most precious currency in the game, since Babette has recently won the lottery. You would have only a limited number of turns to first plan your menu, then order (and wait for) your exotic ingredients from abroad, and finally to prepare your dishes. The more time you spend in one phase, the less you will have available in the others.
So your nebbishe boyfriend calls you to say he’s lost the money he was supposed to pay back to his mob boss, and if she doesn’t meet him in 20 minutes with some more he’s going to have to rob a grocery store to get it. I see this as a real-time dice-chucker à la Fuse with a choose-your-own-adventure layer on top as each card you complete forms part of a timeline with unanticipated consequences that may lead to a bad ending–which then involves retreating to the last decision point (without rewinding the in-game clock) and playing on from there.
As iconic as Bela Lugosi’s portrayal of Count Dracula was, there’s something much creepier about 1922’s silent version, where Count Orlock spreads death wherever he goes and can only be stopped either by Ellen’s virtuous suicidal sacrifice or by Hutter’s more mundane (but equally effective) methods.