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Subject: Dead Drop — of careful deduction and calculated risk taking rss

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Rainer Ahlfors
United States
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Dead Drop
Players: 2-4
Ages: 13 and up*
Time: 15 mins**

* The BGG entry (at the time of writing) says 13+ whereas the review copy of the rules states 8+. I agree with the BGG entry more (see below).
** The BGG entry (at the time of writing) says 10 minutes whereas the review copy of the rules states 15-30 minutes. I believe 15 to be quite accurate.

13 game cards
4 player aid cards
9 victory tokens

Object of the Game
Each player is trying to deduce the value of a single face-down card. However, each clue gathered also gives valuable clues to the opponents. Who can make the correct guess first? Are you willing to risk elimination if you are incorrect?

Initial Thoughts
Great theme. Simple but engaging artwork. I initially feared this fame would be far too light. (Luckily, I was wrong, as you will see below.)

Game Play
Depending on the number of players, you will start with a varying number of cards in your hand vs cards which are on the table. Ultimately, there are always 6 or 7 cards which are completely unknown to you, which is really the balancing factor. Based on information about your own hand, cards which are placed faced up on the table (visible to all players), and what you can learn about your opponent(s) hand(s), you are trying to deduce the value of a specific face-down card, "The Drop".

On your turn, you must take one of three actions. Available actions are:
- Share Info (secretly trade one of your cards with a card from an opponent)
- Swap the Stash (trade one of your cards with a face-up card on the table)
- Sell Secrets (reveal two cards from your hand to a player who must give you a card whose value is equal to the sum of those two cards in exchange for one of the revealed cards)

Optionally, at the end of a player's turn, he may attempt to "Grab the Drop" by placing two cards from his hand face-up on the table. After doing so, he may secretly look at The Drop. If the value of The Drop is exactly equal to the two cards he played, he has won the round! If the guess was wrong, he is instead eliminated from the rest of the round and all his cards are placed face-up on the table and become part of "The Stash".

Wow. At first, I mistakenly thought this game was going to be way too light for my taste — 13 cards, guess the value of one of them. Luckily, I was wrong!

Now, don't get me wrong — the game is still light. However, the intricate guesswork which goes on, the precise deduction, the risk assessment between making an incorrect guess now or someone else winning before your next turn ... it all comes together beautifully!

Each action you take gives you a valuable and precise clue of your choice (or places a card into your hand which you will desperately need later). However, each action also provides a clue to your opponents. Will they catch on to the clue? Which action gives you the best advantage without revealing "too much" to the other players? It's a very well balanced game of deduction and hand management.

First of all — I like this game a lot! It is much better than I thought it would be. The rules are simple and straightforward. Game play is interesting and rewarding. The game is well balanced regardless of the number of players involved.

I would caution, however — if taken more seriously than the game is (i.e. if attempting to play a deeper strategic game than one would expect to play in a couple minutes), the game can be a little AP prone. That said, each round goes by quickly.

Do not be afraid to make an incorrect guess. If you have half of an idea of what the value of The Drop is, go for it! By the time your next turn comes around, someone else will likely have come to the same or better conclusion than you.

This is a very good game! Yes, it is light; but it is one of the better light games I have played. Excellent filler between games. The way the game is designed, you can easily adjust the winning conditions to suit your available play time.

I definitely recommend this game as a light-weight card game suitable in the following categories:
- Family
- Filler
- Party

Honorable mention not intended for children
Spoiler (click to reveal)
Since this is part of the Crash Games Pub Series — this is one you can easily turn into a game with suitable rewards for winning a round. Beer Dead Drop, anyone? Strip Dead Drop? The options are endless and fabulous!
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