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Subject: Control Nut - A Mini Review rss

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Dr. Dam
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All of my reviews aim to offer a brief overview that allows people to get a good feel for what the game may offer them. I feel that other reviews can be sought if detailed game mechanics is what you are after.

Control Nut is a trick taking game most similar to ‘500’ (without the bowers). However like any good game it takes the mechanics of a classic and gives it a slight nudge to create a new game all of its own.

Control Nut is so named as it uses nuts and squirrels as its theme. Each card features artwork depicting nut crazy squirrels that makes each card appealing and sums up the fun nature of the game. Have a few drinks and you'll be laughing your head offlaugh (Ok I'm easily pleased).

The game offers 4 suits of nut; Buckeyes, Walnuts, Acorns and Peanuts. Each suit contains the numbers 1-13 and the game can be played by 2-4 players but it will appeal to most as a 3 player game or 4-player game using partners. Each hand consists of 2 distinct phases. Phase 2 features the trick taking, where cards are led and suit must be followed. If players can’t follow suit they can then trump in or throw an off-suit. This is familiar and straight forward.

The first phase however is where the action is set-up. The game features 8 Control Nut cards. Each card has a special ability that takes effect in phase 2. In every hand only 4 of the 8 Control Nut cards are used (randomly drawn). This helps to make each new hand fresh as the combination will change. One by one each Control Nut card is auctioned. Each player must make a bid using any 3 cards from their hand. The value of the cards is totalled (cards revealed) and the next player must make a higher bid if they wish to win the card. The winner of a bid takes the Control Nut card and then must give the other players 1 card each from the cards they used to bid. In this way a player can win a powerful card but they will weaken their hand in doing so, meaning they may have difficulty winning tricks later in phase 2.

All 4 Control Nut cards are auctioned in this way and the player that wins the majority (or last) of the Control Nuts will determine the trump for the hand. This is a major advantage that ensures that auctions are fiercely contested. This phase is also clever as it allows teams to show each other a range of cards in their hand during bidding. This information may prove crucial when a player chooses what suit will be trump.

The next twist is that most of the Control Cards must be played into a trick and the winner of the trick earns the benefit bestowed by the Control Nut. This requires the players to be very careful when and how they play Control Nut cards or they could backfire!

The scoring offers the final twist. Players or teams will earn 1 point per trick and these points are multiplied by the number of stars won. Every suit has cards featuring 1 or 2 stars. These are usually on the lowest valued cards (1’s and 2’s). This helps make the low numbered cards actually worth something and players can’t afford to sacrifice them if an opponent is winning the trick! The first to 300 points wins the game.

The Final Word

The strength of Control Nut is that it will be familiar to many players but the tweaks make it fresh and intriguing. The Control Cards provide a little chaos and the players will not always feel in control. If you like a game with some control but the potential to be surprised then Control Nut is for you!
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