As fans of the stupendously underrated Carnivale TV series, we were thrilled at the prospect of becoming a ringleader and taking a ragtag circus troupe across the Wild West. We then got even more excited, as it was a vehicle for one of our favourite game genres – and one of the most prolific of 2021 – the deckbuilder. The Amazing American Circus has been a game that we’ve had our eyes on ever since it’s Kickstarter.
Everything starts with a funeral, as you are bequeathed a circus by your dead Papa. It doesn’t seem like much of an inheritance until you get wind of a million-dollar competition to find America’s greatest circus, so you begin to grow your troupe and head to the finals.
There’s a couple of reasons to sit up and take notice of The Amazing American Circus. For one, it’s a deckbuilder that doesn’t rely on combat, which is particularly unusual. Instead you are ‘delighting’ audiences, whittling down their resolve until they burst into laughter. Equally, you’re not taking damage, but you’re getting heckled and booed, which is lowering your own personal resolve and removing cards from your deck.
The other reason to get excited is that The Amazing American Circus is massive, in terms of content, map and the number of things you can do between matches. You’re given the full U.S. map to conquer, taking you from the west to the mid-west and south, before the competition on the east coast. Queen Victoria, PT Barnum and Buffalo Bill all await you.
And you’re upgrading your circus as you go, giving you opportunities to recruit up to 15 different circus members, upgrade them, affix or remove traits and feed them. Once they’re fed and watered, you can travel to 90 different cities, getting stars for how much you’ve pleased them, and completing side quests for unique benefits. Then there’s the 200+ cards to collect.
The key features include:
- Explore the USA – The United States was a new, developing country with settlers steadily pushing the American frontier… To reach their public at the time, showmen had little choice but to travel light and fast. You will visit legendary places and meet real historical characters being a part of the American circus heritage.
- Entertain the Audience! – Deliver a perfect show in a special card duel between you and the audience. Their boredom is your enemy, and your performances and tricks are the best weapons. Choose your cards wisely and try to figure out the mood of the crowd. What’s attractive in the deep South won’t necessarily work in the industrialized North!
- Gather a unique Troupe! – As the traveling Circus owner, you desperately need to look for new troupe members while competing with other circuses. You will gather an exotic crew of strange individuals who will perform for you, but can you deliver the best shows around while traveling from coast to coast?
- Manage and Expand your Circus Camp! – The Amazing American Circus brings a unique blend of RPG, tycoon, and a card game. Build a strong deck of cards, improve your troupe’s stats, and manage your circus camp. Unlock new wagons and gain access to new skills, buffs, and items.
It’s well worth taking a glimpse at the stats that sit behind this game too…
- – 200+ hand-illustrated cards
- – Recruit and train over 15 different types of circus artists, among them mimes, strongmen, and acrobats
- – 8 different circus wagons to upgrade (18 unique upgrades altogether)
- – 32 different types of audience, whom you have to attract and entertain
- – 90 cities and towns to visit
- – 21 story-related side quests – 16 Misfits to collect in Bizarre Baazaar wagon
- – 4 powerful opponents to defeat (one per region)
- – the legendary P.T. Barnum, Buffalo Bill, Queen Victoria, and more…
- – 1 but epic adventure akin to Baz Luhrman’s musicals, Ennio Morricone’s westerns, and the classic road movies
- – 60 minutes of a soundtrack inspired by country and folk music from different parts of the USA
We’ve been playing through this gargantuan game, so expect a review just as soon as we’ve hit the east coast. For now, know that this is a deep and dense little deckbuilder that should have you chuckling like a clown.
Your worst fear is the audience’s indifference. Your best weapon is a dazzling amusement. Your artists are your army. Behold, the circus came to town! In The Amazing American Circus, you’ll build a circus empire from scratch. Flesh and blood opponents, as well as characters known from the American folklore, will stand in your way to success. As a novice owner of a small and run-down circus, you’ll have to face giants of this industry, like Ringling Bros. and P.T. Barnum. Can you defeat them?