I have, at the time of writing this, logged plays of 467 different games. I don't think I've ever written a full review. I may have written one, long ago, long before I really should have. I don't remember. I'm writing this now because at any point in the last thousand years (how long have people been playing games with unsuited cards numbered 1-9?) someone could have come up with Behind the Throne.
And no one did, until now.
Welcome to history, because this game should be played for the next thousand years.
Let me qualify that bit of absolute non-hyperbole by saying that with 3 or 4 players, BtT is just a very, very good push-your-luck game.
With 2, it is historic.
This game destroys Can't Stop! which was the best 'best with 2' pure push your luck game I knew of. But where Can't Stop! generates excitement through a slow build up of random dice rolls, BtT has card-counting, luck mitigation, and a deep and varied decision tree that starts from the first turn of the game. It also has an absolutely brilliant gradual inversion - the worst cards, over the course of the game become the best, and the best become the worst. The game evolves as you're playing it, so the decisions are never static.
You're watching a snake devour its tail. Your sweater is turned inside out while you're wearing it.
It's late and I've been playing BtT for hours. My girlfriend rarely wants to play games at all. She almost never says 'just one more'. Only once has she said it a couple times (while playing Oh My Goods!).
Tonight we played seven games of BtT, at her request, back to back, over 3.5 hours.
I'm not going to add a rules summary here. It's easier to watch Joel Eddy's review and get the very simple rules under your belt in a couple of minutes.
Likewise I don't want to write a strategy article full of spoilers here. Suffice it to say that at the end of the night, in game number six, I thought of a move that we both must have missed dozens of times already. It was huge, it was epic, it was a game-winner and it was satisfying as f@*k.
This game is cheap. This game is, at present, widely available.
You really, really should think about buying this game.
Note: In Joel's review, as I recall, he mainly focussed on 3-4p. In Marnaudo's review, I believe he unfortunately botched the setup, inadvertently playing with the wrong number of cards. This must have made card-counting pointless, and watered the game down to near insipidity. These are two of my absolute favorite reviewers and I hold them in the highest esteem. Joel's review is positive, and it's the reason I bought the game. Marco, whose reviews have caused me to buy more games than I can count, as I said, missed a key passage in the rulebook.
Regardless of why, my point is that as of right now I don't think any reviewer (I've also watched Sam Healey and Dan King's clips) is seeing what I see in BtT - quite simply one of the best short 2p games in existence. I think the same clearly also goes for the early adopters, the 42 (as of 10/21/2016) BGG users who have given it an average rating below 7. That rating is low, imho, for the 3/4p iteration.
For the 2p game, it is way, way off. For me, BtT is without hesitation a perfect 10.
I played two 4 player games of BtT during SPIEL 2017 and one 2 player game afterwards.
For me Behind the Throne is a kind of mix of "Port Royal" and "Koryo / Choson".
It has the "push your luck"-element when flipping cards from the deck (similiar to "Port Royal", but often with more control) and an activation of special effects by majority (similiar to "Koryo / Choson").
I enjoyed this game so far, but I'm not decided about a rating (probably 8-9).