Sep 052013
 

pic1365445_md[1]By Michael Chamberlain

Do you think with the help of friends you could sort coloured cards numbered from one to five into that order and by colour? That is the question that Hanabi asks of its players.

Hanabi is a three to five player cooperative game about creating a firework show. It won this year’s Spiel Des Jahres award for best game and as I have played it a good number of times I figured I would put down my thoughts.

Firstly, it is safe to say that if you’re looking for game of the year, you’re unlikely to pick up this very unassuming looking box roughly the size of a pack of cigars with its bright coloured fireworks on the cover. Given the size of the box, it comes as no surprise that the contents are a number of cardboard chits of good quality, a rule book and a deck of cards.

The quality of the cards is nice without being anything to write home about, and the silhouette of a Japanese building and a tree branch with a number of fireworks going off in bright colour is actually rather pleasant. The relevant information on the cards is the colour of the firework and the number (also printed in the same colour) which are both very clear to see. It’s also worth noting that the cards have a symbol denoting the colour which, hopefully, eliminates the barrier for colour blindness.

Set up for Hanabi is really simple and quick. Firstly you shuffle the deck of fire work cards (five colours for the basic game, six for more advanced play) and place the deck and the box lid within reach of all players; then lay out the three life tokens and the eight information tokens next to them. Players then draw their hand of opening cards, four or five depending on the number of players. Players need to take care when doing this – and when drawing cards during play – to ensure that the cards are drawn facing outwards. This sounds a simple enough thing but it takes a little getting used to as in Hanabi you will be the one player who can’t see your cards. Once this is done you are ready to play.

Players attempt to play cards to the table starting at one and getting to five for each of the colours. At the end of the game, how far you get with this determines your score as team. Make enough mistakes and the team loses as your firework display goes up in flames.

On a players turn they have three options: they can play a card, give information or discard a card. If a card if played it is revealed to check if it continues a sequence or starts a new one. If it doesn’t continue the sequence for a played colour or start an unplayed colour (only one sequence of each colour can be in play) the card is placed into a discard pile and the players loose one of their lives – in the shape of the cardboard chits – placing it in the box lid.

Given that at the start of the game you know nothing about your own cards you are unlikely to begin this way. During this game communication is limited and the only way to acquire information about your cards is to be given it by other players during their turns. When doing this a player can tell another which cards they have of a set colour or number, not both. They must identify all cards that have that quality. The player then places one of the information tokens in the box lid. So for instance at the start of the game it is quite likely you will tell another player “these cards are ones” so they can start building the fireworks. By doing this hopefully you will be able as a team to lead players to laying cards that build fireworks, rather than confusing them into playing cards that risk turning your display into a towering inferno.

You only have eight information tokens and there will come a point when you need to replenish them, this is done by discarding a card from your hand allowing you to return one of the information tokens from the box to the pool. This is facilitated by information from other players. Taking again the example of “these cards are ones”, if all of the colours have already had their ones played, that player now knows that those cards can be discarded without limiting the players score. Where each colour has three ones, two twos, two threes, two fours and just one five, it is possible to end up not being able to play later cards in that sequence meaning that this two can become information to help choose which cards to discard. The game ends when the draw deck ends, you complete all fireworks or if the team loses all their lives and the display explodes.

I really enjoy Hanabi as a challenge and, while it feels to me far more like a communication exercise than a game of the year, there is no escaping how broad an audience this game appeals to. Hanabi is not a game you should expect to pick up and win in the first couple of plays. It would worry me if that were the case, for just about any cooperative game, as it takes time for people to start seeing how others are try to lead them towards the cards they need. There is naturally a feeling of frustration when information is forgotten; it happens to everyone eventually it seems, but it is a part of the challenge of the game to work out how much information you can expect any player to handle.

When I started playing Hanabi I didn’t expect to find much depth to it. In this I have been pleasantly surprised as a lot of the depth is in trying to set up the right player and tracking what everyone else knows. More depth can be found for those who enjoy card counting and really want to track what cards are left in the pack, and use that to further garner information about the contents of their hand, which fireworks are still live and which colours are now dead cards, fit only to be discarded. For what it is, a deck of cards and a few chits, the result is a remarkably streamlined and enjoyable experience well worth trying and potentially owning.
Mav.

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Aug 052013
 

pic1247682_t[1]By Michael Chamberlain

Fleet, released in 2012 and published by Gryphon from designers Benjamin Pinchback and Matthew Riddle is a card game themed on building your own shipping fleet. The game plays 2-4 players and play time comes in at a very pleasant 30-45 minutes and so far I have found no reason to disagree with this.

Upon opening the box you are faced with a bag of 100 blue wooden cubes, a deck of boat cards, a deck of large licence cards, rule book and a yellow boat marker (also wood). All of this turns up in a custom insert that holds it all nicely, even if the space for the boat cards could do with being a little deeper to stop all movement within the box. The two decks of cards are beautifully finished and the larger size of the licence cards is a really nice touch when it comes to game play as they are something that needs to be seen from all round the table during play.

DSCN0656Set up for fleet is a mix of really simple and complex depending on how many players are in the game. Regardless of player count each player get a starting hand of one of the six types of boat card (Shrimp, Lobster, Processing Vessel, Cod, Tuna and King Crab). The licence deck is set up by removing the premium licences (King Crab and Fishermans Pub cards) then shuffling them into the lower portion (player number dependant) of the licences deck to ensure they don’t come out during the early turns of the game. And then place 25 cubes per player in the centre of the play area.

Play for the game is split into five phases starting with the auction phase. During the auction phase a number of licences (equal to the number of players) will be face up. Then beginning with the start player they can either put one of them up for auction or declare that they are out of the auction and may not bid on any licences for the remainder of the phase. Licences are bid on using the boat cards each of which has a number of £1 coin depicted on it, as card hand’s are hidden you cannot declare a bid which you cannot afford to pay. Bidding is a fairly standard affair where offers are made until no one is willing to raise the bid then the winning player must discard cards to the value of the bid if they have to over pay using cards no change is given in this game. Each licence gives you two advantages; firstly you can only launch ships of the related type once you have a licence to fish them. The second reason you would want a licence is (and the only reason you would want multiples of the same type) they all grant special abilities based on the number licences of that type you have, with the exception of the Fisherman’s Pub and King Crab which just gives you points. The abilities are either linked into card advantage; (card management is very much the main focus and challenge of this game) either reducing the cost of buying and playing cards or granting you more cards. The Shrimp Licence reduces the cost when paying for auctions reducing the cost by £1 for each Shrimp licence you own. After each player has either won an auction or declined, the auction is over and the auction area is replenished with cards from the licence deck ready for next turn.

DSCN0655Phase two is launching boats and hiring captains. Once you have a licence and can launch boats you may can play one boat card of that type a turn face up to the table paying its launching cost (by discarding yet more boat cards, but thankfully this is also reduced by the Shrimp licence.) The Cod licence is the one that cares about launching boats. In any turn you launch any boats you get to draw a number of cards equal to the number of Cod licences you have. It also allows you to launch two boats (but only one bonus) a turn. Hiring captains for your ships is a simple as placing one of your boat cards face down under an uncaptained boat. The card you want to use as captain can be of any type but as with launching you are limited to once per turn. The licence that cares about captains is the Lobster, granting you free cards based on the number of captains you have and also allows you to captain twice a turn.

Fishing phase comes next, in which you simply add a crate of fish (blue cube) to each captained boat each player controls. Boats may never have more than four crates on them though.

Processing, is a phase players only act in if they have a Processing licence. If they do they may take a cube off of each of their boats (maximum of one off each) and place them onto their Processing licence. Once you have cubes on a processing licence you may remove one of those cubes each turn to draw you a number of cards equal to the number of Processing licences you have. Any remaining cubes can be used either to gain cards on later turns or removed as additional coins for launching and auctioning. As great as this sounds there is a draw back as each of those crates is worth a point at the end of the game as long as it is on a fishing boat, on the Processing licence it is worth nothing at the end of the game.

Finally comes the draw phase and this is the only time you get to draw cards unless you are making use of any licences that allows you to draw cards when you launch boats or hire captains. During this phase each player takes two cards from the deck and chooses one to add to their hand and the other gets placed on the discard pile. The Tuna licence allows players to keep more cards and to have more cards to choose from depending on how many of the licences you have. Play carries on like this until there aren’t enough licences to replenish the auction area or the fishing crates run out. Final scoring is as simple as totalling the victory points you get from your licences (including the special King Crab ones which grant bonus points based on either Crates, Captains or licences and the Fisher’s Pub cards), points on your launched boats and a point for each of the crates of fish on a boat.

DSCN0657I will readily admit that looking at Fleet I didn’t expect to find half the quality of game that I did. To my mind this game is a really nice filler game, which I can see getting a lot of play, as the choices all feel relevant and it has a really nice play length for the depth of game it is. Lots of little details make for a really comfortable play experience. Particular credit to the boat cards that have a lot of information and remain clear and also to the concept of the licences being available to see all through the launch to draw phases, which really allows you to plan ready for that next auction phase. The abilities all do relatively similar things and yet manage to avoid becoming samey. This is in part due to the different coin, launch and victory point values for each type of vessel linked to a specific licence but remains a real credit to this game. If I have a criticism of this game it has to be the rule book as some of the concepts in this game could really use less bulk text and more pictorial help in making them clear. Granted I can make reasons/excuses that it is a small box and they had a lot to get in but it is a problem when learning the game. There is also one inconsistency in that the costs on the cards are written in dollars while the coins on the cards are quite clearly pounds, it doesn’t affect game play at all but it is a niggle. Despite a few really minor issues I had getting to grips with the game; this is now a staple round the table when we need a short but gratifying game.

Mav.

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Jun 122013
 

cag201_1[1]By Michael “Maverick” Chambelain

Unexploded Cow has been around since 2001. It has just received a lovely reprint in March this year (2013) and on the advice of a friend who told me it was great fun, I gave it a try. The theme for this game is one of the more joyously off the wall I have encountered. It is, in short an answer to what you do when the cows in England are mad (BSE) and there are too many unexploded bombs in France.

On opening the box there are three boards of nice card stock money chits in a variety of denominations. They have pictures of different mad cows on them, very much like real currency have famous people. There are also two decks of cards in the game packaged together: One is the draw pile for the game, the other is the city deck. The art in the draw deck is an absolute joy, with certain cards that are just plain funny. “Your country needs MOO” on the recruiting card is a personal favourite, and everything on them is very clearly laid out with all of the needed information. The city deck sadly doesn’t follow this through, with some cards where I can say the back of the card is more visually interesting and attractive than the front. In their defence I can say that they are just as well laid out and functional. Also the box contains what feels like a bottom of the line six sided die, we just grabbed a nicer one to play with but it is there.

And so to game play. This game is a very simple tit-for-tat card playing game, with some cards that will add cows to a herd and event cards that allow you to do a variety of sometimes crazy things. The cows each have two values on them; a deploy cost and a reward value when they are blown up. When you play a cow you can play it into any herd. The owner of that herd will have to pay the cow’s deploy cost, these arc between 100 and 300. When a cow explodes the owner of that cow will get to collect the reward for it. Why would you play a cow into someone else’s herd? Well that is because six of the cows in the deck, denoted with red backgrounds have a negative reward value, meaning that when they die you end up paying in rather than receiving a reward. Also some of the cows have an ability, these range from exploding the cows next to them to infiltrating other herds while remaining owned by you. The event cards do a variety of things from allowing you to take a card out of the discard pile to making extra bomb rolls. So on your turn you will get to draw two cards, starting hands of four, and then you can play as many cards from your hand as you wish. After you are done playing cards you make a bomb roll. To make a bomb roll you simple roll the six sided die and starting at your rightmost cow count left passing to the next herd on your left if you run out of cows in your own herd, until you reach the same number your rolled on the die. This cow then explodes. If your die roll hits another players herd their cow explodes and they can claim the reward. If you roll a six you pass the die to your left and that player then makes the bomb roll. If one of your cows exploded on your turn you get to claim the city card and resolve the text on it, this ranges from taking more money to taking cards. The city cards also have a city point value. Once the last city card has been taken the game moves to a final round where the players simply take it in turns to try to blow up cows with bomb rolls with no further cards being played, the first turn of this going to the player with the most city points. When the money runs out or the last cow explodes, taking all the remaining money from the pot, the game is won by whoever has the most money.

I want to start by saying others I have played with have loved this game. They have had fun and wanted to play again. I have tried to find anything other than the art and theme to enjoy, in this I have failed miserably. For me the game falls apart on a very few things, but they are so huge that at least to my mind, there is no escaping it. There are a pair of cards called “Mission Creep”, these cards make you skip your bomb roll to pass all herds to the left. There are two copies of it and yet we had it played four times in one game. There are cards that let you take any card out of the discard pile to play again. This “Mission Creep” was the best choice (twice) with half the deck in the discard pile and its pretty much a no brainer of a choice at that. Once you have access to this card you just stop playing cows for a couple of turn (at least into your own herd) and wait for others to play them so as you can steal them and then dump your hand as well. This would be perhaps more understandable if there was perhaps any card that passed right in the game. Equally there isn’t any kind of card that just denied the action, but both are sadly lacking. Now I agree it’s fair to say that if you over extend you should expect to be punished, but on the penultimate city card it’s fair to say you shouldn’t be expecting to get another turn and given the way the final stage of the game plays out it makes sense to dump your hand onto the table. Now if the cards get passed left and the player to your right has nothing, your just stitched and there is nothing you could ever have done to improve this. The frustration this has caused me and others is just not worth it. Would the game play better with this card removed? Probably, but I have yet to try it and I would struggle to find the desire to get this back to the table, that said it couldn’t hurt. There is one other balance issue that really vexes me and that is the city cards. There is no balance in them what so ever. There is never a time you’re not going to try to get a city card as that is points and money for you, but sometimes you will get one city point and take 100 off every other player and others you will get five city points and the same 100 off every player as well as being able to take any card from the discard pile. Surely it makes more sense for the balance of a game for the amazing effect to come with fewer city points?

The theme is hilarious and there are certain pieces of art that I really like, I just wish they were in a better game. If you want an activity with friends and you don’t mind the total chaos and lack of skill, sure this could be for you and as other I have played it with would gladly attest you can have fun with it. For me this game is just ghastly. Would I play it again? I’ve already spent too much time trying to find the good in it I’m moving on.

Mav.

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Jun 062013
 

Sentinels of the Multiverse[1]By Michael Chamberlain

Sentinels has done a wonderful job of making a name for itself since it surprised everyone in 2011. Each of its expansions seems to have been very well received and I was accordingly very pleased to get to borrow this one. The cooperative game is themed around being comic book super heroes fighting a variety of villains in a variety of environments and this theme pervades every aspect of the game.

First impressions of this game are great, granted I had the enhanced edition. All of the cards are beautifully presented and easy to read, though where some of the decks are split between different wraps in the packaging there is a difference in the warp of the ones I played, but that is very minor. Token and chits are all of really nice card stock and once again clear and beautifully presented. The one thing I can see being a disappointment to those who don’t know when this edition came out, is the inclusion of all the dividers you need for some of the expansions. So if you think “I really like the look of that character” there is a chance it won’t have a deck in the box sadly.

And so to game play. Firstly, set up once you have the box sorted is a doddle, if occasionally long winded. The choosing of characters is a major aspect of the fun I had playing this game. The hero characters are familiar enough while being different, which allows for a preference without any prior knowledge. The giant villain cards that come in the enhanced edition feel like they are a huge improvement to play with compared to the smaller ones. This is just an impression as I didn’t give the smaller one much of a chance, where the large ones were so obviously preferable for me. The most different of the decks are possibly the environment decks. These were so very flavourful that even when I hated the environment cards I could feel the connection to that theme. Game play is a major learning curve for this one. There is a real risk that players can be put off by a selection of characters that fail miserably, making the game feel like a torturously slow exercise in attempting to gain ground while digging through your deck for options that aren’t there. That said, if the characters are right the game can be very easy to win. This game really is a pain to describe when it come to how it plays as the different decks play differently. There are decks that play like you would expect, dealing copious damage each turn just by throwing cards at the table, while others play almost like a Magic: the gathering combo decks. Whatever decks you play with and against the games many tokens are a blessing for making visible the multiple effects that it would be easy to miss by having tokens that are bright comic style banners that you can lay across the cards to make it super clear. The villains are as diverse with some being a huge threat on their own with only a few support cards, while others will flood the table with cards leaving you wondering how you will ever clear enough to make progress against the villain itself. I wish I could do the game play more justice, to describe it would simply be unwieldy given the number of different decks, but I will try to be clear as to my feeling of where it is on point and where it is perhaps less so.

If this game does anything perfectly it is the theme. It is so pervasive while playing the game that even when you’re essentially sitting there waiting for someone else to finish their choices, the cards art and flavour text is captivating enough for all but the worst analysis paralysis. Special mention should go to the flavour text on the cards, which are presented as if they are lines lifted right from actual comics complete with issue numbers. Not a functional part of the game, but something that many of those I played with notice and commented on how much they loved. As a cooperative game it does suffer a little from the risk of one player trying to run everyone else’s turns. However, it seems to be less so than in many other games like it. The final stand out success for this game for me is the variety and dearest gods there is a lot of it. With so many different decks for heroes, villains and environments even in just the base game the number of set ups possible is simply staggering.

When trying to think of this game’s faults I am very conscious of the fact that I was disappointed, not so much in the game itself as the fact that all the hype had made me feel here was something really fresh and different and as good as it was, it just wasn’t equal to that hope. While there is nothing I would slate, there are certain things I feel this game is lacking. Firstly, is a good starting point. Where there is so much choice and certain combinations are frankly howlingly bad, in the hands of very new players I feel an advised first game set up in the rules would have been great. For what it is worth, I would recommend for a first game fighting Baron Blade in the Ruins of Atlantis using Ra, Legacy, Fanatic and Haka. Another problem I just can’t get over is just how this game scales. Granted, I can see how a group of four heroes will have an easier time fighting the villain and his hoard than two will and this is once again a tribute to the theme, it just falls flat for me as a game. The villain and the environment get the same number of actions each round regardless of how many players there are. There are certain cards that make use of the number of players but they are very far from a majority. The favoured mechanic seems to be cards just singling out either the player with the most health or the player with least for damage or punishment and with more players this spreads out making a much easier game.

I wanted to love this game, I expected to love this game and sadly I don’t. Would I play it again? Gladly, and it would be great to play the expansions and see if they improve on the experience or not. As it stands there are just other cooperative games I get a much bigger kick out of with less glaring balance issues that concern me.
Mav.

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Apr 112013
 

1362073037-60501800[1]Magic The Gathering is a card game that continues to release numerous new collections of cards for fans and players of the game and the new Sorin vs Tibalt cards are the game’s latest duel deck for MTG followers to acquire and enjoy. The cards centre around two non human planeswalkers, Sorin and Tibalt. Sorin uses his wisdom and experience to come to the decision that the humans of Innistrad may struggle to survive the monsters of Innistrad. But Tibalt is a young pain-mage who continues to inflict pain and torment on those in the Multiverse.

The Sorin vs Tibalt deck lists include many different lands, instants, creatures, sorceries, enchantments and of course the planeswalkers themselves. Sorin, whose aim is to hunt and feed includes lands such as the tainted field and enchantments including mark of the vampire and field of souls within his deck list. The Torin, torment and agonize deck list, includes the coal stocker creatures and the terminate instants.

This MTG deck includes singles, foils, sealed products, mythic, rare, uncommon and common cards and is one that many Magic the Gathering fans will be investing in. This latest duel deck is one of many, which sits along side Ajani vs Nicol, Elspeth vs Tezzeret, Knights vs Dragons, Phyrexia vs The Coalition and many more.

Those who purchase the Sorin vs Tibalt duel deck are sure to enjoy an enthralling game of action, a unique experience that can only be found within the mythical world of Magic the Gathering.

Now available at

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Mar 192013
 

pic1432939_t[1]Of course, here in Scotland it’s pronounced ‘cow’

By Strange Prawn

Much as technology and my bank balance tend toward miniaturization, there seems to have been a recent trend for compact, fast but beautifully formed games, ‘microgames’ I believe the kids are calling them. The poster boy, or rather poster princess, for these recent offerings is undoubtedly the well-regarded Love Letter, a game that revolves around you passing a note of affection to the object of your amorous desires without the knowledge and interference of your fellow players. Brilliant.

Hot on Love Letter’s coat tails, or rather creeping along in the shadows behind it, leering and cracking its knuckles, comes another little beauty called Coup. or possibly ‘Coup City State’. Or ‘Coup: City State’. ‘Coup feat. City State’?

I assume we owe the ambiguity to the pre-existence of another game called Coup, but that’s by the by.

Coup is another one of those games, like The Resistance and Skull and Roses that sidles up to you uninvited and whispers in your ear, all hot breath and spittle, “Do you trust your friends? Family? Spouse?” only to respond with a crack-toothed and doubting grin when you assure it that yes, yes of course you do.

coup2[1]A game of Coup takes about ten minutes, and a more queasy, uncertain and enjoyable ten minutes you will be hard pushed to find, yes sir. The aim of the game is to eliminate every other player by forcing them to turn over the two face-down influence cards everyone is dealt at the start of the game. Once revealed these cards become useless, and as before, if both go face-up you’re out of the game. In theory play revolves around amassing coins, for once in possession of seven of them you can initiate an unopposable coup against a fellow player to force them to flip one of their cards. Towards this end everyone can take one action per turn, the most straightforward of which is to claim income, and take one coin from the bank. Or two if they claim foreign aid, but unlike taking one coin, and in common with everything else you will do in the game, this is not without risks…

See, those influence cards, they represent the people at court over whom you can exert, well, influence. There are five different characters, each appearing three times in the deck. Oh yeah, this tiny box contains 15 cards, some coins, rules and player cheat sheets, and that’s it. And it’s worth every penny.

The first of these jokers (there are no jokers), is the Duke. The Duke’s a fun guy to have around, he’ll net you three coins on your turn, but there’s more, he’ll also let you block any of those other scroungers from claiming foreign aid, should you wish to. The Captain is also handy for your economy, as he enables you to extort two coins, not from the bank, but from another player. Pay up suckers. He also protects you from anyone else trying to pull the same thing on you. As does the Ambassador, who, aside from this defensive sideline, gives you the chance to switch out your influence cards if you don’t like what fate dealt you.

coup3[1]The final pair are the nefarious Assassin (assassins get invited to court now?), who allows you to forego all the couping, and just pay a bargain-price three coins to force another player to turn one of their cards over. Unless of course that player has the final courtier, the Contessa, whose sole purpose in life is apparently to distract Assassins. How she achieves this is a closely guarded secret.

I’m sure from the brief and ham-fisted descriptions above you’ll have been able to deduce some of the finely balanced and gossamer-like network of interaction and counteraction that exists between the roles as designed in the game. It is clear and clever and counts for nothing.

For here is the dark heart of Coup, and every beat pumps not lifeblood, but deceit and distrust. It matters not one iota which two cards you have actually been dealt. You are free to lie, to claim  influence over anybody, and use the associated abilities, whenever you like. Of course, that’s only true as long as you follow the golden rule of Coup: Don’t Get Caught.

For all the talk of coups and assassinations, it is often this very distrust that proves the decisive force in this game. If you sense something fishy going on, say a fourth player has just claimed influence over the Duke, you are free to challenge their action. If you were right to doubt the lying scum, and they cannot produce evidence of their truthfulness by revealing a Duke, they must immediately turn over one of their cards. Contrariwise, if they do show you they had a Duke all along, you must flip one of yours. They then get to shuffle His Dukeness back into the deck and draw a replacement. Who knows what they’ve got there now.

The counteractions can also naturally be challenged, leading to the possibility, nay inevitability, of exchanges like the following:

“I take two of your coins with my Captain”

“I don’t believe you.”

“Really”

“Uh huh.”

“Fine, here he is *shows Captain*”

“Balls. *flips over a Contessa* Okay then, I’ll block you with my Ambassador.”

“What!? Why didn’t you do that to start with!? Rubbish. Don’t believe you.”

“Orly?”

“Yup.”

“Ahem…” *Shows other card, it is an Ambassador*.

“You arse.” *turns over Assassin that replaced the Captain – and was last card*.

coup4[1]I have been on the receiving end of this particular manoeuvre, in all its ruthless tactical brilliance. Look at it, it should be obvious that no one would attempt such a patently ridiculous ploy unless they wanted to be challenged, but then you knew better, didn’t you? You, dear reader, saw that one coming, yes?

Because that’s the other thing Coup says to you. Honeyed words of flattery: You’re a smart cookie, right? You can tell when you’re being lied to, you can look someone in the eye and divine their honesty or otherwise, right? Because, after all, aren’t you just that little bit smarter than they are..?

Of course you’re not, and of course you can’t. But we all like to believe, don’t we, that in that moment when wits clash we have the ability to spot the tells, untangle the deceit, peer down into someone’s very soul and correctly catch them in a heinous lie.

There’s a fine line you need to walk to play the game well, one that meanders between not appearing too strong, not being too obvious and trying to misinform in ways that aren’t so offensive to the other players that they’ll challenge you. Unless you decide to be one of those people who chooses to not to use a power you possess until it’ll definitely piss someone off, in which case I loathe you. I would never do that.

Uh-uh. Not I.

Hopefully sticking to this tricky path will see you into the last two or three, at which point it becomes all about trying to work out, using your suspicions about what your opponents have as well as everyone’s relative wealth, which card or cards you need to ensure victory. Ideally you would actually have them, but hey, as long as they think you have them…

The first few times I played Coup I thought this mathematically predictable aspect to the endgame was  a bit anticlimactic, taking all the bluffing derring-do of before and flattening it into a grey plain of dull inevitability, but I was wrong. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature. I now realise the whole game (all ten minutes of it!) should be spent trying to get yourself into a position where the inevitability tilts your way with the final other player, at least assuming you were right about their cards. Which you probably aren’t.

This aspect adds yet another axis of deduction to the n-dimensional bluffogram that represents this game mapped onto fibspace.

So yeah, I usually try and round these things out with a wee bit tying into the introduction, maybe pulling together some of the similes and metaphors I’ve strung throughout the review, if I’ve remembered to do that. But I am just going to say this. Play Coup. Because I can’t think of anything else to say.

Or can I? Aaah….

Coup is available from:

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