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I got Gosu for my birthday in 2011. When this game came out in the latter part of 2010, it immediately got my interest. My wife and I both tend to like tactical card games that feature a lot of interaction among the cards. So is Gosu another great card game for us or will we be trading it away?
In Gosu players will be playing goblins in attempt to win. There are three levels of goblins, and five different factions or colors. To begin players can only play a level 1 goblin in the first row. The first level one goblin is free. If the next level 1 goblin is of the same faction of the first, then it is also free. If not, then the player must discard two cards to play a level one goblin of the same faction. This is true every time a player plays a new faction in the first row that they do not already have represented. To play a level two goblin in the second row, the player must already have at least one goblin of the faction in the first row. Like wise to play a level three goblin in the third row, a level one and level two goblin of that faction must be present. There can not be more cards represented in a higher row than a lower row. So if I only have two level one cards out, I can not have three level twos.
Many cards have an ability that only activates when played, so after being played these cards are the most useful. That is ok, because most of them can be mutated. Each row can only hold five cards, so eventually mutation becomes the only way to get new cards into a row. Most cards have a mutate cost (between 2 and 4 usually). To mutate, a player must discard cards equal to the mutate cost and then they can replace the old goblin with a new goblin from their hand. Some cards have zombie mutation, which allow the new goblin to come from the discard pile instead of the hand.
On a player's turn they must play a goblin, mutate a goblin, use activation tokens or pass. All players start the round with two activation tokens. Some goblins have abilities that require the use of an activation token. Activation tokens are also a way to get cards. Using one activation token allows for one card to be drawn, and using two allows for three. When a player passes they are out for the round and once all players pass there is a "great battle". For the great battle players total up the strength of their cards (level ones have a strength of 2, level twos have a strength of 3, and level threes have a strength of 5). Whoever wins the Great Battle gets a Victory Point. Then a new round begins. The first player to get three victory points wins. There are some cards that give some different victory conditions, and there are some extra rules like trapping and bonuses for losing players. This is a very simple rule overview and most of the complexity of the game comes from the text on the cards and the interaction between the different cards.
The Game We Played
After we got a few cards into play, the first round ended fairly quickly. After having five level ones and three level twos I passed. My main reason for passing is that players do not get to draw cards or replenish their hands between rounds. I chose to pass early and save cards. My wife played one more level two card than me and won the great battle. I also planned for this because this meant I would get a bonus from some cards for not having the most points. I began the second round and played several of the cards I had been holding. This included two level 3 cards. My wife struggled to draw level 3 cards, and she passed quickly. This gave me a win in the great battle and tied us up. I played out my level two row, and the last card I played was a goblin that cost seven to mutate. However, when he mutates it is an automatic victory point. I went ahead and passed keeping six cards in my hand. My wife kept looking for a level 3. She got one but did not have the required level 2 in play. She passed, giving me my second point. She also played a card that made both of us draw 2 cards, giving me 8 cards in hand. I discarded seven to mutate the one goblin and get my third victory point and the win.
My Rating: 4 (like it)
My Thoughts: This is kind of the card game that I really like. It is really strong on tactical game play, where players have to be really flexible and figure out what the best play for them would be each turn. The tension of not wanting to pass to early, but not wanting to over extend is a good one.
Her Rating: 4 (like it)
Her Thoughts: I am not sure why, but I like this game. I like the interaction of the cards and trying to figure out each turn what I should do.
Combined Rating: 8
Much to my pleasant surprise, this game sneaks on to our favorite game list. I have played it with three and four, and I think Gosu is best as a two player game. I am glad we both like it, and we have plans to get the expansion Gosu: Kamakor, which should give the game really long legs and make it one we consistently play for a while.