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SPIEL '19 Game Preview: Similo, or Let the Characters Clue You In

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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If you've played Mysterium, then you're already 70% of the way toward learning how to play Similo, a co-operative card game from Hjalmar Hach, Pierluca Zizzi, and Martino Chiacchiera that Italian publisher Horrible Games will release in two editions — Fables and History — in late 2019. These editions play independently, but can also be combined into a single game.

Each edition consists of a deck of thirty characters, with lush artwork courtesy of Naïade. If you're the clue giver in the game, you look at one character in secret, then shuffle this character with eleven other cards and lay them out in a grid.

You want the other players to identify your secret character, but since games exist only thanks to obstacles that make normal activities much more complicated than they need to be, you can't simply tell others which character to choose. Instead you'll take a hand of five character cards, then play one of them next to the grid as a clue, with this card played vertically if it's similar to your character and horizontally if it differs from your character. The other players will bicker amongst themselves for some time, then choose one character to remove from play. If they haven't removed your character, then you refill your hand to five cards and lay down another character card as a clue, whether vertically or horizontally — but this time the other players must remove two cards instead of one.

Trying out Similo at Gen Con 2019 — so many blues clues in hand...

In the next rounds, assuming your secret character hasn't been removed, the other players must remove three cards from play, then four. If all has gone well, only two characters will remain in play. You'll then reveal one more clue, and (fingers crossed) your fellow players will remove the final fake and leave only your character behind.

As you might imagine, the challenge of the game is figuring out which card to give as a positive or negative clue, and what to remove when presented with said clues. In some ways, this game is a mash-up of the previously mentioned Mysterium and the party game Whozit? that I covered in this space in July 2019. In that latter game, one player describes how well two characteristics match their secret character, then everyone else tries to remove all other characters in order to score the most points. Similo replaces the text descriptions from Whozit? with evocative images and escalates the tension by increasing the number of fakes to remove after each clue.

I've played Similo ten times on advance preproduction copies from Horrible Games, with the History version proving tougher for me as my knowledge of history is worse than my knowledge of fairy tales. Hmm. You can combine the two versions of the game, with all the characters in the revealed grid being from one set and the clue cards that you present being from another set. My fairy tale character is not like Abraham Lincoln, so should you eliminate the Big Bad Wolf (since he's hairy), The Giant (since he's tall), or Tinkerbell (since Abe sprinkled Mary with fairy dust on Saturday nights)? You can imagine lots of other Similo sets joining this line-up in future years, giving you many more mash-ups to ponder...

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