Final game of the night was Reiner Knizia’s Members Only. What a great little game! Although - be warned - it may not be to everyone’s taste.
First of all, we are all gentlemen. English Gentlemen. Pip, pip, tally-ho, and all that. Stiff upper lip. Shaken, not stirred.
And speaking of English Gentlemen, what did the English bus-driver say to the 3-headed, no-armed, one-legged fellow at the bus stop?
‘Allo, ‘allo, ‘allo, you look ‘armless, ‘op on then!
Being the fine upstanding gentlemen we are, and being of wealthy families, we get our excitement by engaging in placing some wagers on some rawther unique sporting British events. There are 5 main types of bets:
A) how many times will Londoners need their ‘brollies this month?
B) how many royal scandals will there be this month?
C) how many cups of tea will the British Prime Minister spill this month?
D) how many politicians’ past indiscretions will catch up with them this month?
E) at the Ascot races, how many of the club members’ wives will meet each other wearing the same fashionable hats this month?
With 4 players, each player is dealt 9 cards. The cards illustrate one of the five types of bets mentioned above. Then 2 other cards are dealt out to the board.
The board is in two sections. One section is the betting section, where we fine uppercrust English gentlemen place our bets. The other section is the scoring section, where we keep track of just how well we do in settling our wagers.
Each turn you may place a bet. The bets are under bets or over bets. For instance, I could bet that this month there will be 3 or less royal scandals. Or I could bet that there will be 7 or more cups of tea spilt this month. The higher (or lower) the number, the more points you score IF you are correct. If you’re wrong, you lose your bet. The middle numbers are easier to win on, and are thus worth fewer points.
After betting, you then MUST reveal 2 of the cards from your hand, adding them to the board. Then it is the next player’s turn.
So as the game goes on, more and more information is revealed as more and more cards are placed on the board, making the betting easier. (But if you wait for the information too long, the good bets may already be filled - forcing you to take a tougher-to-win bet (assuming you want to bet at all)).
When each player has only 3 cards left, the betting is over. Each player discards one card face down, and then must place his remaining 2 cards on the table.
Then the bets are settled, and points are earned.
Then another round starts.
The game ends as soon as one player has 5 or more points in all 5 betting events. Then - anyone with a score marker worth 4 or less in an event is removed from the board. Only scores in each event of 5 or more will count towards your final score.
The game also has a neat balancing mechanism. Once you’ve maxxed out at 10 points for any one event, you can’t score any higher in that event. So this forces you (or it should, anyway) to concentrate your bets on your currently lowest-scoring categories.
The game is quite unlike any other betting games I’ve played before. It is a very neat little setup, and of course has the usual Knizian twist with the scoring. You can think you’re behind, but suddenly can catch up. This happened to me. I was sure I was behind for most of the game, yet in the final round I came from behind and won the game. Pip, pip, and all that.
Rick - 35
Andrew - 32
William - 31
Dan - 8
Rick - 8
Andrew - 8
William - 5
What’s that you say? Everyone liked it except William? Well, William did like it for the first half of the game. But in his opinion the game went on too long, and that drained a lot of the fun out of it for him. The other 3 of us didn’t feel that way - we were actually quite enthusiastic about it. It took a little over an hour for us to play it.
I really liked how you slowly gained information as the cards were revealed. But you could also garner information from what the other players were betting on and how they were betting (high or low). I would like to try the game again soon. It was a lot of fun.
Well, I should warn you. I find just about all games fun. Except Kaos. And Blindes Huhn. And Clue.
Maybe it’s just me?
Anyhow, try out Members Only. You’ll like it. Or maybe not.
And since we had already played 6 Nimmt earlier in the evening, we didn’t know what to do, so we just all got up and started walking about aimlessly, bumping into things, until we all found the exit. And left.
Thanks for another great gaming session!
Nice review/session report!
One comment. You say that the "game ends as soon as one player has 5 or more points in all 5 betting events." When I first read that, I assumed you meant that one player (the same player) must get to 5 or more point in all 5 events. The game cabinet rules state that the game ends when "at least one scoring marker has reached the darker area (5-10) in each of the five scoring tracks." Maybe that is what you meant, but it wasn't clear that the 5 markers in the darker area (5-10) could belong to different players. Maybe I was the only one confused, but maybe that helps someone else learning this game.