Girl Genus: The Works, created by James Ernest of Cheapass Games, is based on the Girl Genius graphic novel series written by Phil Foglio and was released in 2001.
This isn't the typical Cheapass Games game - it costs more than $4. It retails for about $15 - not that much, but the still enough to be more than the standard cheapass game (Cheapass Games has been moving to higher end game components for games that have been shown to be tried and true - Lord of the Fries is one such example). However, this is a James Ernest game and thus is a new idea in board/card games.
GG:TW was pulled some of its mechanics from the XXXenophile (another Ernest/Foglio collaboration - adult themed and thus very narrow audience range - its not one that you'll find next to Magic: The Gathering or Pokemon in the game store). Translating the interactions and fun in the XXXenophile game to the world of Girl Genius where the basic theme of the story is that of a giant mechanical (gears and such) things and some people with the 'spark' of creation in them. Thus GG:TW card game is that of a machine with gears that are turning.
James Ernest isn't the most fond of Collectible Customizable Tading Card games (such as Magic The Gathering or Pokemon). The games he designs may be collectible (in that there are dozens of expansions - such as Button Men or Brawl), but each expansion has all the same materials - there are no "rare" cards that leads a person to spend hundreds of dollars on booster packs to try to find them. GG:TW is a complete game in of itself with nothing more needed to play - moving away from the XXXenophile trading card game roots. James Earnest has stated that if there are expansions to GG:TW, they will be done as stand-alone decks rather than booster packs.
The object of GG:TW is to collect a certain number points (100). Each card has has 4 edges with some number of a symbol, a point value, image of the character, a set of attributes (such as "girl", "genius", "spark") and some text that may either be flavor, or instructions. Each player's turn consists of turning over a card (if any are face down), and then rotating a card 180 degrees so that it will pop a card. When two cards line up so that the symbols match, the one with the fewer symbol count is 'popped'. If all cards are face up, and no card can pop, the board is shuffled and dealt back out face down.
O O O
Agatha Heterodyne 2
Girl * Genius * Spark |>-
(image here) |>-
Pop one spark.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Some cards, have text that instructs what to do when they are popped. For example, a soldier has the instructions to pop the card that its gun is pointing at. Other cards may cause the player to lose a turn or steal a card from another player's score heap. When a card is popped, the player then puts a new card down from his or her hand. Realize that this is at the same time appropriate for children aged 10 and up (or so the box says) and with enough strategy to cause older siblings and parents people who enjoy games to spend a some time trying to figure out how to force the next set of moves to work in your favor (it gets very strategic for a 2 player game, a bit more fun an random at 3 players, and just a fun family game that my mother can play while knitting between turns at 4+ players).
Girl Genius: The Works was nominated for two awards at Origins: Best Abstract Game, and Best Graphic Presentation of a Card Game.
A PDF copy of the rules is available at