Posts Tagged ‘Card Game’


Asmodee – Skull (Review)

September 27, 2016


Publisher Asmodee
Genre Card
Number of Players 3-6
Play Time 45 minutes
Initial Review Date 9/26/16
Last Updated 9/26/16

In this abstract game each player bids in an attempt to bluff their opponents.


Each player is given a set of four round cards that look like highly stylized drink coasters. Each set of cards have unique artwork both on the front and back. Three of the cards show a picture of a rose, the fourth card shows a day of the dead style skull. Each player also recieves a matching play mat, which is slightly larger than the cards and is square.


Each player starts by placing a single card of their choice face down in front of them in order to “ante-in”.

Then the starting player may either “raise” or “bid”. If a player no longer has any additonal cards to raise with, then they must bid.


  • Raise – a player takes another one of their cards and places it on top of their stack.
  • Start Bidding – a player must announce how many cards they can flip over without revealing a skull.


Once bidding starts a player may either bid or pass.

  •  Bid – a player must announce how many cards they can flip over without revealing a skull and this number must be higher than the last player to bid. A player may not bid more cards than the number of cards on the table.
  • Pass – a player takes no acton and sits out the remainder of this round.

Once a player wins the bid, they must start flipping over cards. It should be noted that they must start with their own stack first and may not flip over any cards of another stack until they have flipped all their own cards.

If a player successfully flips a number of cards equal to their bid they score 1 point (this is represented by turning over their play mat.

If a player flips over a skull, then they have lost the bet. When this happens the player who’s skull they flipped over, selects one of the player’s cards at random and it is discarded without revealing it. Only the owner of the cards may examine them afterward and knows for sure if they still have their skull card or not. If a player flips over their own skull card then they still lose the bet as normal and they must discard one of their own cards randomly. Once the card has been discarded they may examine their remaining cards as normal.

If a player loses all of their cards then they are eliminated from the game.


There are two ways to win in this game.

  • Be the first player to score 2 points.
  • Be the only player to not be eliminated


This game is a pure bluffing game. The short goal of scoring only 2 points means that riskier players will either win quickly or quickly be eliminated. As such, you can’t play it safe the whole time. Sometimes it can be worth failing a bet just to keep players guessing if you still have your skull card or not. Since now there is a chance that you don’t.

If you enjoy bluffing games this one is defintely worth a shot. It’s short enough that if you find you don’t enjoy it you haven’t wasted a lot of time on it. The only real downside to the game is that there isn’t any play outside of the bluff. There aren’t really any odds to fall back on or calculate. You have to judge what other players have, based on their bets.


Pressman: The Oregon Trail – Review

August 9, 2016


Publisher Pressman
Genre Card
Number of Players 2 – 6
Play Time 45 minutes
Initial Review Date 8/7/16
Last Updated 8/7/16
Official Video How to Play

This game is a historical journey back to the 1980s. In the 80’s there were a number of “edutainment” games. These games were an attempt to blend video games with education. Oregon trail was an attempt to teach history through video games. This is a card game version of that 80’s video game. The artwork of the card game has been done in the same style as the original video game. Unlike the video game, you play this one with your friends, working together and get at least one of your group to Oregon.


You start by separating the cards into their respective piles (trail, supply and calamity cards)  and shuffling those piles. Each player is dealt five trail cards and a number of supply cards based on the number of players. The remaining supply cards form a market. To create the market the remaining supply cards are sorted into face-up piles based on their card type.

You then take the Start and finish cards and place them 3 feet apart (which is 9 card lengths).

Now the first player starts.


On your turn, you must do one of the following

  • Play a trail card: In order to play a trail card, it must connect with the existing path when placed evenly against the previous trail card. You may rotate the card to make this connection if needed.
  • Draw a trail card: you can only draw a trail card if you can not currently play any of the trail cards you have.
  • Play a supply card: Supply cards are played on calamity cards in order to resolve them. Unresolved calamity cards often result in one or more player’s deaths.

Trail cards when played often come in one of five types.

  • Fort: This card allows you to collect two supply cards.
  • Town: This card allows you to collect one supply card or remove a single calamity card.
  • Empty: These are one of the best kinds of trail cards, you progress without any event.
  • River: These cards will require you to roll a die in order to progress. A failed die roll will sometimes result in a supply card being lost or the entire group being killed, depending on the river card.
  • Calamity: These cards look like the empty trail cards, except they make you draw a calamity card.

Once you play a trail card, you follow the instructions (if any) and then your turn ends. This means that when you draw a calamity the next player will have to deal with it, not you.

When 5 trail cards have been placed, they are then collected and stacked. This means that you will have to play a total of 25 trail cards in order to travel from the start to the finish.


This game not only pulls on nostalgia but it seems built on it as well. Unfortunately, this means that certain aspects of the game loom large (like dying of disease and failing to ford the river. While some of the parts of the game that were actually educational have been lost.

In the original game, the primary focus of the game was proper trip planning. You made decisions about what to stock up on. There were also several forks which you were presented with which were often a choice of (longer safer path or shorter more dangerous path). You even controlled the speed at which you traveled which impacted how often your wagon broke down. If you planned properly and made smart decisions most of your group if not all of them would arrive safely. You would sometimes lose someone to the RNG but that was typical of 80’s style video games in general.

Sadly, this card game is a badly watered down version of the original.Trip planning has been thrown completely out the window since your supplies are randomly given to you and the few fort and town cards that are in the game (2 of each) mean that at best these cards just help you deal with whatever problems you’ve encountered, making them completely reactionary. Often, the only decision you’ll be making is if you want to deal with another river crossing or another calamity both of which are terrible options. Of course, that’s in the early game, in the late game you probably won’t have any choices at all, it will just be whatever the next playable trail card is.

It’s worth playing for nostalgia and the theme might be appealing to history buffs, but I think after a few play-throughs you’ll be wishing it had more depth to it. If you want an inexpensive nostalgic card game, this is probably worth picking up and you’ll feel that you’ve gotten your money’s worth after a few plays. Otherwise, I would recommend staying away from this game.


Gangrene Games: Trash War – Review

February 9, 2016


Publisher Gangrene Games
Genre Card Game
Number of Players 2 – 5
Play Time 30 min
Initial Review Date 2/2/16
Last Updated 2/2/16
Rules PDF | Tutorial Video

Trash war is a free-for-all type of game with a theme of medieval knights in a modern junkyard.  The theme is a little bit strange but it does carry though the whole game with a consistent art style.


Each player starts with 3 walls and five cards. There are two redraw schemes that can be used and so players need to have a consensus of which method is going to be used.

Game Play

Game play is a little bit sporadic which is both good and bad. The reason for this is that the player who goes next is the player who was last attacked. In this way if you have two players who insist on attacking each other and no one else it leaves everyone else as passive spectators. The only thing the helps mitigate this is that the winner is the last player standing. This means that if you’re not getting any turns, you’re not being attacked and so you’re winning. This helps alleviate the issue a little, but this could end up being an issue depending on who you’re playing with.

For all practical purposes you only have two types of cards. You have offensive cards and defensive cards. These can come in different varieties but in the end it’s all there really is. In the rare case where you have no cards you can play to attack with. You can pass and play simply goes to the player on your left. This also helps prevent slugfests between two players since it can only continue so long as both of them have ammo.

The rules might be a little bit confusing at first but they are mainly there to create a certain kind of game flow. This flow can be seen in the video linked above.


The game isn’t bad. There is the danger of it being a little bit adversarial, but its a relatively light and quick game. If you need a filler type game for your game night this is not a bad choice. Setup is pretty quick and once everyone gets a handle on the rules it won’t take long to finish either.

I would stay away from it if you really hate games that feature player elimination and/or are highly adversarial since that’s basically what this game is. Luckily, it’s quick enough that the first player to be eliminated shouldn’t be sitting out for long.



Fantasy Flight Games: Citadels

November 28, 2011

Publisher Fantasy of Flight
Genre Card Game
Number of Players 2 to 7
Play Time 1 hr
Initial Review Date 8/11/11
Last Updated 11/27/11
FAQ Official FAQ
Files/Tools Official Rules
Click Here to Play

Citadels is an interesting little card game that is fairly easy to learn. It reminds me a little bit of race for the galaxy.

In this game each player is trying to build up a citadel and gets points at the end of the game based on what they have built.


There are 8 character cards which determine play order and special abilities.

The current “king” starts the round by collecting all of the character cards and randomly tossing out one or two cards, depending on how many players you have. They then look at the remaining cards and pick one. The cards that are left are then passed to the next player.

This continues until the last player receives 2 character cards to pick from. The one not picked is added to the previous discards.

In this way some roles are not chosen and only the very first player and very last player know for sure what characters were not chosen and even then neither player has complete information on this.

Then characters are revealed starting with the character card numbered 1.

This continues until all 8 character cards have been called. Then the round begins again.

Turn Sequence

So, during your turn you can do one of the two following actions.

  • take 2 gold
  • draw 2 cards, keeping one and discarding the other.

Additionally, you can do the following actions at any point during your turn

  •  use your character’s special ability
  • play a single card

Playing Cards

Each card has a gold cost associated with building it. Additionally, that is how many points the card is worth at the end of the game. So, to play a card you place it face up and give the associated money to the bank.

Many cards simply indicate a color. There are some however that instead of indicating a color they grant some special ability. The more expensive cards are of course worth more points but are also more challenging to play.

Character Abilities

So, each character has a number. Below is a list of what each character does.

Assassin (1) – Pick another character, any player who has picked this character skips their turn. The character chosen can not be stolen from.

Thief (2) – Pick any character other than the assassin and the assassin’s target. If any player has picked this character you get all of that player’s money when it is their turn.

Magician (3) – You may do one of the two following actions:

  • Exchange your hand with the hand of another player (this does not include cards already played)
  • Replace any number of cards from your hand with cards drawn from the top of the deck (cards removed from your hand go to the bottom of the deck.

King (4) – You gain the king token. Gain 1 gold coin for every yellow card you have played.

Bishop (5) – Your buildings can not be destroyed. Gain 1 gold coin for every blue card you have played.

Merchant (6) – You gain 1 gold coin after you take an action (drawing 2 cards or taking 2 gold coins) . Gain 1 gold coin for every green card  you have played.

Architect (7) – After taking an action draw two additional district cards and place them in your hand. You may build up to 3 districts on your turn.

Warlord (8) – Destroy any one building not owned by the bishop. You must pay gold equal to the building’s cost minus 1.

Winning the game

The game ends once a player has played 8 cards. The first player to do this gets 4 bonus points. Additionally, every player that has 1 card of each of the 5 colors gains an additional 3 points at the end of the game.


The game isn’t bad. It feels very confrontational though as half of the characters have offensive type abilities. You can try to “play nice” but this just tends to mean that you are on the receiving side of the attacks. This is large in part due to the fact that the thief and assassin are largely “blind” attacks meaning you may get hit repeatedly without even getting
specifically targeted.

I think a lot of meta gaming is required in order to make your attacks less random.

The game is also not really any good with just 2 players. I have tried playing it this way and it’s clear the mechanics are really designed with 5 to 6 players in mind.

It’s an ok game, but it’s one you may want to pass on.


Rio Grande Games: Race for the Galaxy – Review

July 13, 2011

Publisher Rio Grande Games
Genre Card Game
Number of Players 2 to 4 (1 to 6 with expansions)
Play Time  30 to 60 minutes
Initial Review Date  7/12/11
Last Updated 7/19/11
Files/Tools Game Rules / Game Rules (alternative Link)
Click here to Buy
Click here to Play Online

This is a game I discovered for the first time years ago at the penny arcade expo. I enjoyed it and got a copy. Since then 3 expansions for the game have come out and I’ve enjoyed each one. This game is easily one of my favorite games.

So, race for the galaxy is a card game where you are trying to establish an empire. It gets its name because you can’t really dawdle around, if you do you’ll end up losing. This is not so much because of any set time limit but rather because the game automatically ends if certain conditions are met, so you want to do what you’re doing before that happens.

How does it work?

If you’ve played Puerto Rico some of this will seem familiar to you.

In the game there are 5 phases. The phases are

  • Explore
  • Develop
  • Settle
  • Trade/Consume
  • Produce

While the phases do have a specific sequence not every phase happens every turn. Each player has a set of phase cards and picks one of them, placing it face down. Then all of the cards are revealed and the phases chosen are the only ones that happen. Everyone gets to do the phases chosen but the player who picked the phase will get some bonus related to that phase (eg. picking develop makes playing develop cards cheaper). It is therefore possible that everyone might pick the same phase. If this happens only that phase occurs but everyone gets the related bonus.

A mechanic that makes this game a challenge is that way that cards get played. Cards come only in 1 of two types, developments (played only during develop) and planets (played only during settle). Each of these cards has a “cost” associated with it. With the exception of certain cards, this cost is always paid by discarding cards from your hand. This creates the interesting problem of having a hand that is “too good”. That is to say, if I like every card in my hand it’s going to be a challenge to play any of them since I’m going to have to give up other cards to put it down. So, the reality you’re often happy to draw “useless” cards or cards that don’t go with your current strategy since they give you something to discard to play the cards you do want.

Winning the game

So, as I said before the game ends when one of two conditions is met.

  • When any player ends a turn with 12 cards in play
  • When the victory point pool is exhausted

The first time I played the 12 card limit felt excessive. This is because the game suddenly ended just when I felt I finally had a good set of cards down. What this means is you have to be choosy about what you play. This is because with the exception of a few cards like the colony ship (which is discarded to make playing a planet free) once a card is down it is yours forever. So it is often a good idea to not play anything at all even if you have the opportunity to just so you don’t waste a card slot.

The second victory condition is closely tied to another important mechanic, consuming goods. There are cards that once played produce goods during the produce phase. These goods are represented by a face down card on top of the planet that produced the good. Then during the consume phase other cards (or in some cases even the same card) have the ability to “consume” that good (iow its discarded) in exchange for some ability like drawing 2 cards or giving you victory points.

victory points don’t do anything for you during the game but they count toward your final score at the end of the game. They are limited however based on how many people are playing (12 per player). This limit isn’t a hard limit (you’ll never be denied points from them running out) but as stated once all of the points are gone the game ends.


As I said, this game is one of my favorite games. The learning curve on it though is unfortunately quite steep. This is because there are a large variety of abilities in the game which are all represented by specific icons. You’re given some cheat sheets of what everything means but it’s a lot to take in at first. Once you learn the symbolism though it’s easy enough to tell what a card does by the symbols alone.

It’s a game well worth learning, particularly if you enjoy games like Puerto Rico or San Juan. All three of these games were made by the same company so it’s no wonder they are similar. Of those games though i like race for the galaxy the most because it’s faster (both to play and setup) and offers a wider variety of strategies.

 Part 1: Rio Grande Games: Race for the Galaxy – Review
 Part 2: Rio Grande Games: Race for the Galaxy – Strategy

Asmadi Games: Innovation – Review

July 4, 2011

Publisher Asmadi Games
Genre Card
Number of Players 2 to 4 players
Play Time 30 minutes
Initial Review Date 7/3/11
Last Updated 7/3/11
Click here to Play

Innovation is an interesting little game. It is sort of what you would get if you turned flux into a civilization building game. During each turn you get 2 actions and you can either draw a card, play a card or use a card that is in play. The last part is when things get weird. This is because every card you play has a color and a series of symbols on the front. Additionally, each card has 1 or more “abilities”. There are two types of abilities

  • General “shared” abilities
  • “I demand” abilities

Many of the later cards seem to have both of these. When  you choose to use a card you activate every single ability the card has and you do them in order. however, each ability is tied to a symbol and so when you use the ability you have to compare it to the symbols everyone else has. Then depending on if it’s a shared ability or an “I demand” ability one of several things happens.

“Shared” abilities

If someone else has as many or more of the symbol than you do, then they get to do the ability first.. Anyone who does not have as many of the symbol as you do or more does not get to do the ability

“I demand” abilities

These abilities are usually stated to be something like “I demand you give me 2 cards” or something along those lines. All players who have the same or more of the symbol may ignore this demand. All players who have fewer symbols then you must follow the demand.

Color Melds, Splaying and Tucking

Now, as I mentioned before there are 5 colors in the game. Additionally, each card has various symbols on it. When you play a card if you do not currently have any cards of that color down then the card simply goes in front of you. If however, you already have a card with that color, the new card is placed directly on top of the old card replacing it. This is referred to as melding.

Something else that can happen in the game is splaying. A card ability may tell you to splay cards of a certain color or that you may choose to splay cards of a color of your choice. What this means is that y ou shift all of the cards 1 symbol in the direction indicated. In this way the cards that were underneath are partially revealed allowing you to regain the associated symbols. The card on top is still dominant and only it’s ability may be played but the cards below now augment what symbols you have shown which can affect which abilities you and other players may participate in.

This is why another action called tucking can be useful. What tucking means is that instead of playing a card on top of your stack the card gets played to the bottom of a stack. In this way it’s symbols augment what you already have in play (if the stack has been splayed).


Now, if that wasn’t confusing enough winning is also kind of strange. In the game there are a number of achievement cards which can be acquired. Some are acquired by having points and others are acquired by completing certain actions. The first person to get 4 of these achievements wins the game. Because many of the achievements are point based in a way you could say the person with the most points wins but it’s not really a given. In fact depending on how things go the winner could end up being the player with the fewest points.

Overall, it’s the sort of game that I think takes a couple of plays to really fully grasp. It does however require quite a bit to thinking as I constantly found myself trying to figure out not so much if a given action would be beneficial to me but if I could do it without someone else benefiting from it even more, since so much of what you do often other players also get to do.

I would say give it a try if you have the opportunity, just if you do play it be ready for a lot of heavy thinking and feeling somewhat lost at first and this is coming from someone who won their first game. 😛