WBG Score: 8
Player Count: 2-7
Published by: Lumberjacks Studio
Designed by: Marc Paquien
In order to stand out, party games need to do something special to stand out in today's cluttered market. There are so many games released now, and many of them seem to be quite similar. As such, it takes a lot for a party game to really interest me. However, when I was first introduced to Loading at UKGE, I was instantly blown away. The game can be taught in minutes, and instantly creates what every good party game should. A lot of laughter. Let's get it to the table to see how it plays.
Deal each player a boost card, placing the rest back into the box. This is placed in front of each player. Then lay out Stop cards relevant for your player count and place these into the centre of the table. Then, shuffle the main progression deck and deal them out into equal packs to each player, leaving one person with no cards. That player has to place their palm out, face up, ready to receive a deck from another player. You are now ready to play.
How to Play
The player without a deck starts the game by shouting "3,2,1, load!" and then each player will begin to look at their deck. They will be looking for the lowest card to place down to start their stack. When they have taken one card, they will hand the rest of their deck to the player with their hand out ready to receive a deck. They will then in turn place their own hand out, ready to take the next available deck. When they get this, looking through your second deck you are looking for a card that is closest to the card you first placed into your stack. Ideally moving up by the smallest increments in ascending order. They don't have to be consecutive, but they must always be superior.
If you ever see a card that is directly one place higher than someone else's current top card on their stack, you can instead place this card from your current deck onto that player's stack. This means you can then take their Boost card, if they have one, and place it in front of you instead.
If you feel there are not many, or any cards left in either deck that would work for you, then you can discard the deck you currently have, meaning no player can access it, and take one of the Stop cards from the centre of the play area. You will place this on the top of your stack to show you are done for this game. Your boost cards are now safe from being taken by other players.
The game continues like this until there are no Stop cards left, or one of the deck of cards runs out. At this point, any player must shout 'Stop,' and all players must immediately cease playing. Each player will now check their progression cards are all in ascending order, and if so, count up the green rectangles on their cards to total their score. One point for each one. Any card that is not ascending is simply discarded. The player with the most points wins.
You will notice that some of the cards are coloured. This is for the expect mode, where cards can be easily identified in order to add in one extra rule. Cards of the same colour can be played in top of each other, ignoring the ascending rule. Either on your own stack, or onto an opponents in order to steal their Boost card.
There is also a two player mode where 10 random progression cards are discard and three decks are created. Each player takes one deck and the third is placed into the centre of the play area. The game then works as usual, apart from when you want to exchange your deck. Instead of passing to another player, you will place it onto the table and take the other deck that was there. There is also one extra rule to stop player's ending the game too soon in this player count. At the end of the game, if you don't have at least nine progression cards and you were the player to take the stop card, then you must give one of your progression cards to your opponent.
Is it Fun?
Loading is incredible fun. I have not played this game yet without immediate, raucous, and constant laughter being created! Any game where players are rushing under the time pressure of doing something faster than other players often creates a good buzz. This, coupled with the real-time nature of checking through and then passing of the decks, along with the simple game play; means Loading is as sure fire a winner as any party game can ever be. If people don't like real-time games where you are rushing then this won't be for them. People who don't enjoy a noisy game will also struggle with this. But that is probably the only group that won't instantly fall in love with this little gem.
I love the organised chaos this game brings. Loading is a small box game, but with a huge presence. Each game I have played Loading it has generated a fair bit of noise. Shouting. Laughter. Accusations of poor deck passing! (Which is covered in the rules to be fair). And a whole lot of enjoyment. This is party game heaven.
I can see this game coming out to my table whenever I have a large group as the perfect start to any game night. The two player works but it has a lot less going for it. For me, this is for five and up and best played with the full seven. If you get a chance to play this, I would give it a go. You may well have a new favourite party game.