May 2018 be all you dreamed it would be and be all that you dreamed...
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.
As this is a game based on educational principles I am also able to draw on my experience as a primary school teacher (Australia) when reviewing them. I hope you find this insight useful.
The theme for Poison revolves around sorcery and potion brewing. The game consists of 3 large cauldron templates, and 50 potion cards. The potions come in 3 colours – red, blue and purple, and each card has a value – 1, 2, 5 or 7. The entire deck of cards is dealt out to the players and this forms their starting hand.
The aim of Poison is to get the lowest score and points are earned by collecting cards out of the cauldrons. So each player is trying to avoid collecting any cards. On a player’s turn they must play 1 potion card to any one of the cauldrons. Of course there are some restrictions. Each cauldron can only have 1 potion colour in it at any one time. For example once a red potion is played in a cauldron, only other red potion cards can be added to it. So as the game progresses, all 3 cauldrons will contain potions – each with a different colour.
Once a potion is played, the player must calculate the value of the cauldron by adding all the potion cards together. If the total (including the card they played) is 13 or less, then they are safe and play moves to the next player. But if the total is 14 or more they will win the cards in the cauldron. The only card that stays in the cauldron is the card the player just played to make the total go over 13. All won cards are placed in each player’s score pile and are kept face down to keep them hidden. Play continues in this way until the last card is played, which ends the hand. Each card in a players score pile is worth 1 point (remember that the lowest score wins) and the game will have 1 round of play for each player in the game.
So where is the strategy? Well at the end of each hand but before scoring, each player groups the potions they won by colour. The player who won the most potions of each colour gets to throw them away, scoring nothing for those cards. As each hand unfolds the players must take calculated risks on which colours they collect and hope to win the majority of them. Collecting 5 potions of one colour and seeing another playing reveal 6 is most painful.
But wait there is more. The deck also contains 4 green poison cards each with a value of 4. These cards are played in the usual way but can be played into any cauldron. If a player is left with these in their score pile at the end of a hand they are worth 2 points. Poison cards are always scored. The best way to use them from your hand is to play them to make a cauldron go over 13. In this way you get the cards but the poison card stays in the cauldron, hopefully for someone else to collect later.
The Final Word
This is a clever game that offers a range of options each turn. Keeping track of what potions each player is winning from the cauldrons and taking calculated risks is the key. The game can be played by any age once a child can add basic numbers but of course younger children can play for the sheer fun of it if an older player helps them with the addition. The final tick of approval is for the quality of the components. The cauldron templates add to the theme, the artwork on the cards is appealing and they have a matte finish, which will see them stand up to many plays without getting too damaged. This is a great game for the whole family.
EDIT - It is worth noting that Poison has been re-released and given a theme makeover. It is now called Baker's Dozen and I've written a review for it also -
- Last edited Mon Jul 24, 2017 5:32 am (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Wed Jan 3, 2007 3:21 pm
Re: Poison - A Light Review
Great review! This is a great game that we have played almost 15 times over the last 3 months. It was a big hit with my wife's family and my father in-law played in a couple of games and won one of them.
I gave this away as a white elephant gift with my wife's family for Christmas and hinted to a couple of people that it was the gift they wanted. My niece who had not played Poison yet ended up getting it and enjoyed it when we played later that day. My other in-laws were upset when they saw what they missed out on.
They should have listened to my hint!