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Subject: XXL - A Mini Review rss

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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.

Summary

Game Type - Card Game
Play Time - 30 minutes
Number of - Players: 2-6
Mechanics - 'Going out', Trick taking
Difficulty - Moderate (Rules will need to be referred regularly)
Components - Fair to Good (Over-sized cards unnecessary)

XXL is a card game that offers 6 different mini games and each player will earn a finishing position for each mini game. After all 6 rounds are completed, the players add up all of their finishing positions. The player with the lowest total is declared the winner.

XXL uses 55 over-sized cards. Each card displays 2 numbers (0-10) in two different colours. The total of these numbers is also displayed in the middle of each card. Each mini game may only use some of the features, so the players need to be sure they understand how each game works. The finishing positions for each game are based on the total points a player collected or the number of cards left in hand if someone ‘went out’.

Game 1 is called ‘More or Less’. Each player receives 6 cards and 2 cards are drawn from the deck and placed end to end. In this game a player must try to place a card that can create a run that comes off any one of the 4 numbers on display. For example if 1 card showed a red 2 and blue 6, a player could play a card with a red 1 or 3 or a blue 5 or 7. The number they play will dictate if the run is ascending or descending. This run can be continued by the next player or a new run can be started using the other number on the card. As soon as a player ‘goes out’ or all players cannot play a card the round ends.

Game 2 is called ‘Stay Low’. All players receive 6 cards and a card is drawn and placed as a table card. The players must try to play a card that is lower in value than 1 of the values on the table card and in the same colour (e.g. red 4 is lower than red 7). If a player cannot play a card they must draw a card instead. The game ends when a player ‘goes out’ or if all players cannot play a card.

Game 3 is called ‘Passing Permitted’ and plays like a more traditional trick taking game. The player who leads must select which of the 2 colours is trump and play is over 2 different rounds. This game is more intricate than the rest and has multiple means for ending a round.

Game 4 is called ‘Building Runs’. Each player is trying to form a run of 3 cards in a given colour. Players start with 4 cards and can draw from the draw deck or table cards. The game ends when the draw deck is exhausted and the sum of the card totals will determine finishing positions.

Game 5 is called ‘Get them in Sequence’. This is another ‘get rid of your cards’ game and requires the players to add cards to rows on the table. A row is started with a 10 of a given colour and the players can either start a new row with a 10 of a different colour or add the next descending number to any row. Like ‘Patience’.

Game 6 is called ‘I Choose Suit’. The first lead will feature 2 coloured numbers. If the next player plays a card with only 1 of these colours, that colour is locked in and all other cards must be of that colour. Once everyone plays a card to the trick, it will be won by the player who played the highest value in that colour. The game is over when all cards have been played. The total of all cards won will determine finishing position.

The Final Word

Whilst offering different mini-games within a game is not new, XXL is a little unusual as the games do not build upon each other to enhance the skills required. Not surprisingly some of the mini games are a little hit or miss and personal preference will determine which is which. In my opinion 'Game 3' is far too over elaborate in its mechanics for the 2 rounds and scoring.

For me XXL is more miss than hit I'm afraid. Having 6 different sets of rules means a lot of individual learning for new players and I don't see this game being played regularly enough for the rules to become 'concrete' without referring to the rulebook. This in turn affects a games chance of being replayed and its overall value.

I also dislike the over-sized cards as they are unwieldy to hold and the same information could have easily fit on to more regular sized cards. It's almost as if they were chosen purely to validate the title!

All in all XXL offers some interesting ideas but falls short of offering a coherent game that will keep the interest of gamers beyond the first or second play.
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