For review with pictures
30 Minute Playing Time
Guillotine is a self proclaimed 'easy to learn, fun to play, card game where you win by getting a head'. Set during the French Revolution you'll cross paths with Regent's, Lords, Ladies and even the infamous Marie Antoinette herself, as you play the part of a guillotine operator tasked to make a living by executing and collecting the most impressive collection of heads. You have three days and a plethora of nobles lined up ready to head to the chopping block, but be careful of your rival executioners as they'll do whatever trickery they can to see innocents, crowd favourites and martyrs end up at your guillotine.
Played over three rounds, Guillotine is set up by placing twelve noble cards face up in a line and five actions cards being dealt to each player. On a players turn they may choose to play an action card - which often will effect the noble line, and then collect the first noble in the line. Your turn ends with you drawing an action card and the next player will do the same thing - play an action card, take the first noble in line and collect an action card. After all 12 nobles have been taken, the next day starts with another 12 fresh and eager nobles dealt into the line.
At the end of day of the third day each player will total up their noble cards, as well as any bonus's acquired from action cards. The player who amassed the highest point scoring head count win's the game.
Guillotine is quite possibly the easiest game to teach in my library of games. It normally goes something like this:
1.) The goal is to get the most points
2.) Each turn you can choose to play an action card, if you play one it does exactly what it says on the card
3.) You then take the first noble in line and pick up an action card
4.) After three rounds of twelve nobles we add up the scores for the winner
It literally is as simple as that, and everyone gets it within their first turn. Sixty seconds to set up, Sixty seconds to teach brand new players, and away you go to collecting noble heads.
Simplicity does have a negative side however - which is generally a lack of depth and it's the case here with this. Guillotine is a very luck driven game, with no real strategy or decisions to be made. You can have an idea of your upcoming turn, get your action card ready to send Mary Antoinette to the front of the line, but until your turn actually comes around any plans can be foiled. But that's where the fun in Guillotine lies, the random line shuffling, take that actions, and being stuck with no possible way to prevent you from taking the -3 point getter, 'Hero of the People'. Guillotine is in no way a brain burner, gamer or not, if you can read I can't see why you wouldn't be able to play.
The theme of Guillotine is pasted about everywhere as cards filled with tongue-in-cheek humor, clever names and not so subtle drawings - but they are rarely taken notice of. You read your action card to see what it does, and don't care or have the chance to analyse it before your playing it or adding it to your hand. That's not to say you can't find it, but Guillotine is just a simple card game where your trying to collect the most points by playing an action that allows you to take the highest valued card on the table. The artwork does have some nice little touches and things that will give you a small chuckle, but you'll have to make an effort to care.
A game about beheading people normally wouldn't quite be called a family game, but I think this easily can be one. Yes its a noble you are beheading, but I actually never think of it that way while playing or even properly explain to people what the points are really for as its just not necessary. Being the easiest game to teach also makes Guillotine one of the easiest games to play with nothing really to master or improve on in future games. It's just a game of luck, but in a light quick game - some bad luck can often be a key to a night of laughter and fun.
My Verdict: TRY
Easy to teach, easy to play
What you see is what you get, no depth
There is some strategy to the game, based on getting a card in play that increases a colour group's worth and working toward that with your other actions.
A light filler that's fun but is marred by some poor action cards (adding nobles to the back of the line sounds fun, but you only increase your opponents head counts by doing so) that convolute your hand.
It is a great game to bring out with non-gamers!