A game called “Guillotine” sure doesn’t sound like a fun family game. And believe me, when I first heard about the Guillotine card game, I quickly wrote it off as well. But I later heard more about it and it sounded light and fun. So I bought a copy a few years ago and have enjoyed playing it with both family and friends.
As you may expect, the theme of Guillotine is about executing French nobles. However, the implementation of the game feels a lot different than the theme. This is not a gory game with blood and death. It just as easy could be about inviting nobles to a ball where you’re trying to get the highest ranking nobles to your festivities.
While it’s not about a royal gala, Guillotine is still silly fun.
How to play Guillotine
Guillotine is a simple card game with a simple objective – collect the most points. Players gain points by ‘beheading’ important nobles.
As mentioned above though, there isn’t any gore or violence in the game play. All players really do is collect the card in the front of the line. And as you can see from the pictures, the each nobel card just has an image of faces and a number indicating how many points it’s worth.
There are 2 decks of cards: 50 Noble cards and 60 Action cards. The game takes place over 3 rounds or “days” with players going in turn by playing an Action card (optional) and then collecting a Noble card.
To start the game, each player gets 5 Action cards. Then day 1 begins by placing 12 Noble cards face-up, in a line on the table. The noble card on the right side is first in line – the next to be collected.
The first player can choose to play an Action card and then will collect the Noble at the front of the line and add it to their nobel score pile. If the noble at the front of the line is worth more points, the player will most likely just take the noble. But most of the fun in Guillotine is in using the Action cards to mix things up a bit and get the nobles you want.
The Action cards allow players to change things up a bit. For example, they may allow players to move nobles around in the line (skip ahead, fall back, rearrange, switch the front, etc.), draw more cards, or even take or switch up Action cards from other players.
After collecting a Noble card, the player draws an Action card (whether they played one or not) and play moves to the next player.
After the last nobel card in the line is collected, day 1 ends and day 2 begins by laying out 12 more Noble cards in line. Players keep their hand of Action cards and play continues beginning with the player to the left of the person that started day 1.
Like we said – it’s a very simple card game of grabbing the most points.
Can the whole family enjoy Guillotine?
While Guillotine is a fun family card game, it’s not for everyone in the family. The game box indicates ages 12+. Our guess is that’s mostly because of the theme. Because the simplicity of the game play definitely allows for younger kids to play. However, players also need to be able to read.
All the Action cards require reading and some of the Noble cards do too. And while it’s a card game with inherent luck, there is definitely strategy involved as well because of the manipulation using the Action cards. So players will do well to keep their wits about them.
As we mentioned at the beginning though, Guillotine could be played with a different theme in mind if you’d like to simplify it for younger kids. Play it as though you’re inviting high ranking nobles to a party and they’re lining up to get in your castle. The first of the line will come in next unless you play a card to change up the line.
How does Guillotine score on the “Let’s Play Again” game meter?
Guillotine is so simple to play and doesn’t take too long that it’s easy to set up and play again.
Since it’s a card game, it’s also very easy to travel with – very easy to throw in your bag and take with you to your next family or friends gathering.