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Subject: 5 out of 10. A kids game they can buy themselves but that's not a bad thing. rss

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Ian K
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Top Trumps first came out (according to wikipedia) in 1977 and was a game that was cheap, portable and very easy to play. You could carry it in your pocket and easily play a game or 5 with your friends during break (or "recess" for our American friends) and its kid-friendly nature meant that that was precisely what happened during the late 70s and 80s. It became a staple of British school yards and new packs were usually easily affordable after one or two weeks pocket money.
As such, people of my generation have something of a soft spot for this game. It's what we grew up on after all. So when it was relaunched in 1999, my fond memories led me to but a pack or 4 and I've continued buying them at a rate of 2 a year or so.
But even without the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia, I believe I would still recommend Top Trumps to most gamers and kids.

Synopsis
The idea of the game is simplicity itself. You get a Top Trumps deck, you deal out all the cards to the players, the first player to "win" all the cards for themself then wins the game.
Each card from the same deck will have 5 or 6 Categories printed on them with numerical data in each. If it's your turn, you simply read out the Category of your choice from the card in front of you (no cherry-picking your cards, you hold them in a stack in your hand and must use the top card of the stack) and the numerical value associated with it; all other players read out their value for that Category and whoever has the best (usually, but not always, the highest) value wins all those cards, puts them to the back of their stack and all players then look at their next card.
There are a myriad of Top Trumps decks you can buy, ranging from themes of Ancient Egypt to Doctor Who to Space to The Simpsons and more. The themes chosen are primarily geared towards young teenage boys but there are a few exceptions (such as FHM Cover Girls or Dogs), and while it may be that the decks themed around football are more overtly popular the game is fun enough that most kids will happily play the Ancient Egypt pack too and then they just might learn something. Sure, the Categories of Beauty, Ingenuity and Mystique that the Egyptian Pack uses are very subjective but the Categories of Age and Height aren't. If you like the game enough, it doesn't take long before you end up simply learning that Tutankhamum was 17 when he died or that the Great Pyramid is 13,900cm tall. Not to mention the short paragraph also on each card giving you more details and information.
So while the packs on Indiana Jones or Star Wars: The Clone Wars or The Simpsons or Star Wars: Episodes IV-VI or DC Superheroes or Star Wars: Episodes I-III or Doctor Who Monsters or Star Wars: Spaceships will appeal to the fan boy in all of us and will prove a welcome 10 minute break during a hard evening's gaming, the packs on Dinosaurs and Space and Sharks and Warships might just actually teach the players something too.

Presentation
The different packs can vary in quality but they're nearly always at the top end of the scale. A decent picture, a stack of stats, and some background text giving you more info.
Occsaionally you get an odd choice of picture (such as the Dinosaur who looks like a lizard-man alien or the use of fish-eye lenses in the Dogs pack) but on the whole it's all top quality and easy for people as young as 5 to understand (assuming they can read *g*).

Summary
If you're an adult who didn't grow up with Top Trumps, I recommend getting one or two packs from a theme that appeals. They're not expensive and will be a fun diversion for 20 minutes or so in between your marathon games that you usually play on game nights.
For the kids, this game is great. It's simple, fun and addictive - and possibly even educational.
And for the adults who did grow up with it, it's just what you remember. And that's not a bad thing at all.

5 out of 10. One of the most simple game possible but still fun.




(edit: as usual with my reviews, I needed to fix a few typos I didn't spot in my original proof read)
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