Would you watch an anime called Detective Penguin Panic about three penguins waddling their way through the wreckage of the post-apocalypse? Would you lend your copy of Valkyrie Alice to a friend so you could talk about the final scene that brings home the Alice In Wonderland theme with a giant space battle? No need to seek out these titles; they currently only exist between my friends and me, thanks to Channel A. Evil Hat Productions brought this classic party game back to life with a Kickstarter last August. We put on our producer sunglasses and took this edition out for a spin.
The basics of Channel A are familiar to anyone that’s played a party game in the past decade. The Producer for the round selects two elements every show pitch that round must have. The players then pull up to four words from a hand of 10 cards they have to assemble a title for their show. The players can adjust the title to fit their pitch by adding articles and plurals. (Sometimes, not quite proper English adds a note of authenticity for anime fans.)
Each player, including the round’s producer, must then pitch their show to the other players for 30 seconds or less and at the end of the round, every player votes for someone else’s pitch. The winner gets two points. Play proceeds for a number of turns based on the number of players. There are also several rules variations included to keep things fresh or scale things down to help younger players get into the act.
Here’s the big secret of Channel A: even if you don’t love anime, it’s a blast assembling titles and pitching series based on those words. I can count the number of anime series I’ve watched on one hand and I loved coming up with funny, sexy, bizarre and epic shows based on the combination of elements on the table and words in hand. Rounds often got sidetracked on meta discussions about how certain titles sold or what strange plot twists they took in later seasons when voice actors left. This is a great, short game to play as the opening round of a board game night or as a filler while the D&D group orders food and comes together.
As a matter of fact, the Channel A boxed set is also an excellent resource for tabletop RPG groups. The cards can be used as writing prompts for all sorts of things like character ideas, plot summaries and even as a title for an upcoming campaign. Over and over, our playgroup would listen to the pitch and we’d spend a few minutes telling the creator that we would watch that show. Getting strong buy-in from a group is the first step to a memorable campaign. A few rounds of Channel A are all it might take to generate some great ideas.
The hat is Evil, the games are good
Images Credits: Rob Wieland
Rob Wieland is an author, game designer (Star Wars RPG, Firefly RPG, Camelot Trigger) and professional nerd. who occasionally tweets and livestreams RPGs with the Theatre of the Mind Players while his meat body resides in scenic Milwaukee, WI.