Are you ready to fill your Friday night with “cunning, mischief, and schadenfreude?” We sure are, at least in the form of Cantankerous Cats, a feline card game created by game and graphic designer Al Gonzalez and artist and illustrator Elise Spacek.
“Al asked me, if we were to make a game, what kind of game should we make? Elise recollects. “Naturally, I said ‘a game about cats!’ It just popped into my head, an obvious answer.”
Thus, the project that would become Cantankerous Cats was born. In the game, you are a cat (yes!) and the aim is to cause heaps of trouble for your human servants without getting thrown out of your house.
“At every turn, we wanted the player to FEEL like they were a cat toying with their nameless Hoomin ‘pets,’” Al explains.
All of the game's artwork is drawn and painted from a cat’s perspective—human faces are never seen; all dogs and children look the same. For artistic inspiration, Elise referenced the turn of the last century, secreting cat elements in the busy art style of the late 1800s. “If you look closely, you will find mice, paws, hearts, tails, whiskers, catnip, and many other small touches,” she says.
“Elise is the one who came up with the core mechanics of gathering affection points with your Hoomin then turning around to terrorize them (mischief points) without getting thrown out of the house,” Al explains. “After that, we jotted down an extensive list of adorable and troublesome things cats have been known to do and gave each of them a ‘weight.’ How much affection was something as common as a catnap worth compared to, say, cuddling in your lap or squeezing into a box? Exactly how angry does one get when a cat scratches someone, coughs up a hairball, or leave a surprise in your favourite shoes?”
As you play the game, you strategically build up affection points in order to shield yourself from the consequences of all the mischief you’re trying to cause. But if you cause too much mischief, you risk being thrown out of your house as a feral cat! Though you can be temporarily halted from scoring, there is always a means to con your way into another unsuspecting house where you may create more mischief. Tread lightly, though—the other cats in your neighborhood will be doing their best to thwart your mischievous machinations!
The game took three and a half years to complete, with the duo raising over $22,000 on Kickstarter to see their project to fruition. Al kids that his favourite part of working on the game was “finishing it!”
“Joking aside,” he continues, “my favourite part of this whole project has been seeing the community on Kickstarter respond.”
The online community’s commitment and enthusiasm definitely helped the duo stay the course and see the project to completion. Its finished form is something Al and Elise are understandably proud of.
“A lot of love, talent, and care from dozens of people over three years went into this box,” Al says. “At the end of the day, I hope people see that when they open a copy of Cantankerous Cats. This is a game we made because we wanted to share our love of cats with the world in a way that can be fun for anyone, but still respects the player’s time and intellect. I think we’ve created something interesting, witty, and adorable with just the right amount of sinister humor and aggressive posturing—‘purrfectly’ appropriate for the complex predators that have shared our homes for thousands of years.”
This beautifully designed game promises a rollicking good time. Get yours for $20 at cantankerous-cats.com!