Kickstarter Quick-Look: White Elephant

Kickstarter perusers have definitely seen their fair share of offbeat projects lately – the Freaker, that floating pool in New York City’s East River, this thing – and I have been loving every bit of it. So when designer Brian Kelley mentioned that he had a game heading the Kickstarter way all about the White Elephant holiday party game (in card form, no less), you can bet my offbeat-o-meter redlined. Naturally, I wanted. Thankfully, I received.

Yup, I actually own that album. On vinyl, no less.

White Elephant, as mentioned previously, is based all around that joyous holiday tradition of giving really crappy presents. It is known by many names such as Dirty Santa, Yankee Swap, or – as my friends from youth always called it – “heavy rock in a box.” In the game, each player receives a holiday shopping list for three of their strangest friends, family or even pets. Players are also dealt a hand of several “gifts” that form their dusty attic where trinkets and trashy treasures lie. Each round (party), players select one gift from their attic and bring it to the party. Then the holiday backstabbing begins. Players take turns either unwrapping one gift (flipping over a card) or stealing a gift from another player who has already taken a gift from the table. The overall goal is for players to grab the highest-scoring cards in the three colors shown on their shopping list. After all the gifts in the attic have been taken down and passed around, scores are tallied and the highest score wins.

Like the titular holiday game, there’s often a lot of name-calling, and vendettas are formed pretty quickly. In our last game, one particular chap was engrossed solely in the act of stealing his fiancée’s most prized present each round, whether he needed it or not. This detracted from the game a bit, but the loose and lighthearted structure of the game made the events a wholly welcome occurrence. I would say that this loose and lighthearted structure is White Elephant’s greatest attribute; within our first few plays, we had instituted several house rules that we had all used during our holiday White Elephant parties in the past. Another great strength is the art; the overall graphic design of the game accentuates the offbeat attitude contained within. The faded polaroids of wacky pawn shop presents will definitely provide a chuckle – especially when you recognize an item or two you might just have in your own closet.

As of this posting, Brian Kelley has a little over 3 days to secure funding for White Elephant – and he’s only a few hundred dollars short! Consider heading to the White Elephant Kickstarter page and helping Brian have some happy holidays. Heck, buy two and take one to your next White Elephant party! Have a very Meta Holiday!


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  4. Kickstarter Profiles, Part 2: Startup Fever
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5 Responses to “Kickstarter Quick-Look: White Elephant”
  1. AJ says:

    I am excited to get my hands on this…

  2. Darrell Louder says:

    I happily backed this, and can’t wait until I can get my hands on it!

  3. LR says:

    I have already pre ordered 5 games to give as gifts! I love this game!!!

  4. Rian Fike says:

    Outstanding review, fun looking game!

  5. I backed even before you posted.. but sure glad to see that you DID post ! 🙂

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