I've always said that Reiner Knizia was the king of elegant game designs but this is ridiculus.
Play a card and take a chip. That's all there is too it!
Is it even possible to have an easier rule set than Loco! and yet have so much tactical depth. I think not!
This is a lightning quick little "filler" that can be played with 2 to 4 players.
The game comes with 30 cards. They are numbered 0 thru 5 and in 5 different colors.
There are also 25 plastic chips; 5 in each color.
The game also comes with a small little rule booklet.
The cards are a standard size and of adequate quality. The Plastic chips are also fine. They really don't need to anything too spectacular. The game plays very quickly and is very portable. My one minor complaint would be that the packaging isn't the best and I'll probably end up looking for a different way to store the little game.
Loco! is very simple and can play very quickly. First shuffle up the 30 cards. Then a certain number of cards needs to be removed from the deck and then the rest of the cards can be dealt out to the players evenly.
4 player game - remove two cards
3 player game - remove three cards
2 player game - the rules say to just remove two cards, but my group has found that for a 2 player game it is more fun if 4 cards are removed.
Once all of the remaining cards have been dealt out to the players, put the chips on the table. Group the chips according to their color.
Now we are ready to play Loco! Start with the player to the left of the dealer and continue in a clockwise manner. On your turn, play a card from your hand near the chips of the same color. Then, take any chip from any of the groups. There is no need to take a chip of the same color as the card you played. Chips are placed in front of the player in plain view of the other players. When another card of the same color gets played, the card is placed on top of the previously played card but in such a way that the value of the card underneath can still be seen.
What's this all about? Well, the goal of the game is to get as many points as possible. The chips you take are worth points. The value of each chip is determined by the value of the top most card of the same color. If the last card played near the green chips was a 2, then every green chip you have is currently worth 2 points. The game ends when the sixth card of any one color has been played. The player who played that card may still take a chip.
Now its true that I tend to like games designed by Reiner Knizia. He has a real knack for designing games that are extremely elegant. Meaning, the rules are very simple and straight forward and yet because of the scoring, the decisions that one has to make can be very difficult. That is to say that the game has considerable tactical depth. While one is playing Loco!, one needs manage one's hand and carefully time the playing of cards and the taking of chips all the while trying to discern what cards an opponent may have by taking note of the chips they are taking. This game can have a bit of bluffing element too. Its just terrific!
The other reason I like Knizia designs is that alot of his games involve not just playing the mechanics but outwitting or out guessing your opponents or even manipulating them. Its not how well you can play the game but how well you know your opponents and knowing what they might do and then making the appropriate decision. (kind of like Texas Hold 'Em Poker). Other Knizia games where this comes into play are games like Ra, Modern Art, Taj Mahal, Dead Man's Treasure, and Samurai, among many others. I guess thats true of most any auction game, but nobody does auction games like Reiner Knizia.
For these reasons, Loco! is an extremely elegant game, and it is alot of fun. For a game that plays this quickly and yet is this much fun, you'll be addicted and loco for Loco! in no time.
I got introduced to this just yesterday (the Flinke Pinke edition) at a local game group & whole-heartedly agree with your review.
It's simple enough to teach to anyone, quick enough to hold even the shortest attention span, yet has enough of a risk/bluff/strategy element to keep the more 'gamery' amongst us from dismissing it.
A nice review & a very nice game!