The most fascinating game at PAX was not to be found underneath the life-sized statues of dragons, wizards, or space marines. No plasma screens depicting high octane gameplay were found at this bright pink little booth. Instead there was a picture of a young chamber maid with long blond hair and frilly white apron. This was my first encounter with deck-building card game, Tanto Cuore.
In Tanto Cuore (Tawn-tow Kwo-ray) you are placed in the role of a Lord of a large mansion. The object of the game is to hire maids until you have the most capable staff in the land. All of the maids have their own unique abilities that affect the flow of play. You build your staff with resources like “Love” and “Actions”. You can also hinder your opponents by causing their maids to get sick or pick up bad habits.
As I played the demo, I could just hear the gnashing of teeth over the nature of the game.
What’s this? You’re “buying” young girls with “love” so they can “serve” you in your mansion. It’s sick! It’s perverted! It’s negative gender stereotyping!
Even so, it was mostly women who were checking out the booth. The promo bag – which you could only get by buying the game at PAX – was mostly being carried by women, and my female friends were talking about the game, saying how cute it was.
When people decry games, movies and other things that feature pink, lace, and good manners, I wonder what kind of society they think they are building. Are we really better off when Barbie, Hello Kitty, and the Disney princesses are only mention in the hushed tones of heretics? Do we want everybody to just wear business suits and boss each other around?
Tanto Cuore is a welcome departure from more traditional card games. Instead of summoning monsters to do battle with each other, you are assembling a group of young ladies that can put together a household filled with love and prestige. It feels a lot like Settlers of Catan in the building aspect, but because there are so many cards in play, you feel like you have more leeway in your strategy. It’s not a collectible card game, so everything you need to play is contained in one box. I can see how it would be controversial, but the art is beautiful, the gameplay is solid, and my wife has found her gateway drug to complex tabletop games. Today Tanto Cuore, tomorrow Magic the Gathering! (Yeah, right!)
Tanto Cuore can be purchased online at Cardhaus Games and other fine games retailers.