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Game Preview: The Game: Quick & Easy, or Five Colors, No Waiting

W. Eric Martin
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Board Game: The Game
Board Game: The Game: Quick & Easy
In my "highlights of the 2010s" article, I included Steffen Benndorf's The Game as one of my top picks — well, all the titles in The Game series, even though by doing so I was already dipping into titles released in the 2020s.

The Game: Quick & Easy, due out in early 2020, is the fourth title in The Game series from Benndorf and German publisher NSV, and it mirrors the gameplay in the other designs while indeed playing in a shorter timeframe. I've played 22 times so far on a pre-production copy from NSV, and my games typically take 5-10 minutes. Here's an overview of how this game works:
Quote:
To win, you must play all fifty cards in the deck on the two discard piles. The deck consists of fifty cards, with cards coming in five colors numbered 1-10 in each color. Each player has a hand of two cards.

On a turn, you play one or two cards onto one or both of the two discard piles. On one pile, you must play a higher card that whatever the top card is, and on the other, you must play a lower card. The exception is that you can play any card on a discard pile if it's the same color as the current top card. Thus, on the ascending discard pile the cards played might be blue 1, red 2, gray 4, yellow 6, yellow 2 — and that drop down gives you breathing room in which to play more cards. After you play, you refill your hand to two cards.

You can't reveal the specific numbers you have in hand, but you can say things like, "I have a high yellow card." In the "professional" version of the game, you must play exactly one card each turn (even if you want to play two), and you can reveal only the color of cards in your hand and on which stack you want to play.
Board Game: The Game: Quick & Easy
Lousy choices on my turn...

My wife and I won our first game and thought, "Easy?! Wow, they weren't kidding!" So we jumped to the professional version, then lost many times in a row, then returned to the basic version and we lost several more times. Turns out that the first game was beginner's luck, although we have won a few more times since then.

With only two cards in hand, compared to 6-8 in The Game, you don't have much room for planning and often you'll be squeezed to play something you'd rather not. Sometimes the next player will have a card of the same color to bail you out, and sometimes they won't.

Memory plays an important role in the game, although you might not realize it in your initial plays. If the red 1-4 have already been played, for example, then you can't claw back much playing space after you drop a red 10 on the ascending pile since at best someone could have red 5 standing by. Still, you have only two cards in hand, so you might have to resign yourself to fate, especially when you have a situation as happened in one of our games, when three of the final four cards were 8s. You're not getting out of that trap!

No matter — shuffle up and play again, and again, and again...

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