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Subject: The Gamer Nerd Review: Copycat rss

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Nicolas Shayko
United States
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The Full Review with Images can be viewed on

What do you get when you take some of the highest regarded eurogames and mash them into one game? You get Copycat. Copycat takes elements from Dominion, Agricola, Through the Ages, Puerto Rico, and Power Grid. Mainly though, this is a game that combines the mechanics of deck building and worker placement.

Copycat has a very fun theme of getting elected for office. What is the office? We don’t really care as this theme is made within a satirical backdrop of electoral politics. The game was created by Friedmann Freese, and the cover of the box has his face on it in the style of the famous Barack Obama poster with the slogan “Yes We Can”—except in Copycat Freese wears a button that says “Yes We P(l)ay.” These satiric references are made throughout the game. One of my favorites is a card called “Huge PR Campaign” which shows a bare chest man fishing. Why do I like it so much? Compare this photo-op from Russian President Vladimir Putin to the art on the card:

What about Copycat as a game? Well, it is very well designed and works great. The player starts with seven “1 coin” cards and three “1 VP” cards, just like Dominion, as their deck. Each player draws five cards, and then a worker placement part of the turn begins, with players starting with three workers and one at a time being able to choose actions that do a variety of things, such as drawing more cards, buying a card to add to the player’s deck, shredding a card (known as trashing in Dominion) from the player’s deck or taking victory points.

After all the workers have been placed, the players buy new cards to add to their deck, which make the deck more powerful to score more points later. A player can only buy cards if he or she has used some of their workers to take a buy action. The cards that can be bought come out in a queue and have a printed cost on them, and may cost an additional amount if further down the queue. For those familiar with the game Through the Ages, it is the same method of cards coming out as that game. The cards do a variety of things such as let a player draw more cards, take more workers to use on a turn, have higher money values and higher victory point values.

After the player makes any possible buys, he adds up all the victory points in his hand along with victory points taken with workers. Thus victory point cards aren’t useless during the game in Copycat as they are in Dominion, each time you have them in your hand you score those points. After everyone has made their buys and taken their victory points, a single victory point chip is put onto unused action spaces on the board as an incentive to have players take those spots later, as is done in Puerto Rico. Like in Agricola, at the end of each round a new action space is revealed and can be used by players on the following turn.

The game continues until one of the following three conditions is met: (1) A player reaches 95 VP, (2) the last action card has been reached or (3) the last card from the deck has been bought. Copycat is a lot of things, but it really is a deck building game first. What I find so refreshing about it is that the worker placement aspect of the game allows for the coverage of the flaws in the deck that is being built. For instance the last game I played I was never really able to get money I wanted to buy the cards that allow you to draw more cards. Thus I took a real interest in taking those spots on the board that allowed me to cycle through my deck. The importance of being able to copy cards is something I don’t want to really expound on in the review, but there are spaces that allow a double action basically to be taken which can make some powerful combos. The strongest VP card is 10 pts and if you double it, you can really rack up the points.

Copycat is a great game. It mashes together a bunch of well tested and loved ideas by eurogamers and forms a very good new game. One would think that a game that takes from so many other games would be complex, but it isn’t. It takes worker placement and round cards from Agricola, for example, but the game is much easier to get your head around than the weighty game. This game may end up not having the replay ability of some of the classics it copies, but for right now I am still weighing the different strategies and enjoying a new creation in Copycat.
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