It’s a bit of a sleepy time for releases right now what with the holidays and the end of the year approaching fast, but that’s alright by me because one of my most anticipated upcoming games decided to launch out of nowhere this week. That game is Pine Tar Poker from developer BJ Malicoat. You may remember us talking about this one back in August when the game was in open beta, and after not hearing much about its progress since I kind of started to worry something might be awry, so I was thankful to see the game finished up and released this week.
So to recap, Pine Tar Poker is something of a hybrid between traditional Poker and Yahtzee. Your goal for each game is to make a number of different hands that are either straight up Poker hands or slight variations of them. Points are awarded for each hand based on which cards you used to make them, and you also have the titular Pine Tar hand which is basically your one get out of jail free card when you fail to come up with any of the other hands you’re shooting for. If you fail to make one of the needed hands, and you have no Pine Tar hand to fall back on, the game will end with your final score recorded and a number of special coins doled out.
These coins are where things get extra interesting in Pine Tar Poker. They can be used to purchase a number of items from the bartender, from something mundane like a pencil so you can keep track of which cards from the deck have been dealt to magical runes that will grant you special powers to help sway the game in your favor. You can also buy tokens that let you upgrade individual cards, and together with unlocking trinkets and whatnot, the progression system in Pine Tar Poker is the kind of thing that keeps drawing me back over and over again.
In addition to all of this, there’s some lore to the game’s universe and definitely some otherworldly things going on that you will learn more about the deeper you get into the game. I love Pine Tar Poker just for its novel spin on Poker mechanics, and it’s the kind of thing I’ll always be happy to bust out for a game or five, but I’m also extremely drawn in by the mystery of all the peripheral stuff going on. It feels like a video game that would exist in the X-Files universe or something. So if you have a handful of dollars to spare and enjoy a unique card game with plenty of personality, I can easily recommend giving Pine Tar Poker a shot.