Mark van der Upwich
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Game: Top Hats & Treachery
Year: On Kickstarter until Sunday, November 20th (
Genre: Card Game
Playtime: 20-30 Minutes
Weight: Light

Publisher: Rogue Artist Creations
Developer(s): Andrew Prowse
Artist(s): Chris Cambell

(All Images used are property of Rogue Artist Creations)

Flavour Summary:
Victorian London used to be the center of the (what then was) Modern World. With famous (and infamous) people constantly visiting the town, the need for places for them to stay increased constantly. Little Hotels popped up all over town: Some Good, Some… let’s say a little shady. With competition at an all-time high, proprietors did whatever they could to get the most appreciated guests into their little establishments (and preferably, keep the less-desired ones out). You are one of those hotel owners, trying to do anything and everything in your might to keep your hotel’s reputation as high as possible, while destroying your competition.

This is Top Hats & Treachery!

Gameplay Overview:
The Main Goal of Top Hats & Treachery (THAT, for short) is to get the hotel with the best reputation, this is accomplished by serving the guests with the best reputation. Makes sense, the more famous your guests are, the more famous your hotel is. A simple goal which is not so simple to achieve, because well… the competition is fierce.

THAT is played with two kinds of cards: Guest cards & Rumour cards. The Guest cards represent all the people that are looking for a place to stay and are divided into three categories: Lower Class, Middle Class & Upper Class. These classes represent the real life classes that you’d find in Victorian London. Each of these classes contains several ‘sub-classes’ as well, for instance the Lower class consists of ‘Poor’ people, Servants & Criminals where the Upper class would hold the Rich and the Nobles. This is an important part of the game, which I’ll touch on later. Each of these guests cards has (besides a picture, name, class and (often very funny) description of the guest) a value on it which adds up to the reputation of of your hotel.

The Rumour cards are used to alter the reputation of those guests. There’s 5 different kinds of reputation cards: Red, Green, Yellow, Choice & Grim Reaper Cards. The Red & Green are quite straightforward: They either positively or negatively influence a target guest’s reputation. For instance there’s a Red card that spreads the rumour that your guest has an illegitimate child running around somewhere while a Green card could add Medals or a nice Title to one of your guests. Some of these cards can only target a specific type of guests (the Medal card can only target a member of the Armed Forces, which is a sub-class of the Middle Class guests). The choice cards have both a positive AND a negative side to them of which you can choose one to use on either one of your own guests or one of your opponent’s).

Yellow cards (or Game changers) work a bit trickier, these hold things along the lines of counters (which negate the effects of the card just played), protection from Rumours or could even allow you to open up an extra room in your hotel which could get you an extra guest. Your hotel continuously expands, but more on that in a bit…

Finally there’s the Grim Reaper cards and they do pretty much what you’d expect them to do: Kill people! Is that 6-point Noble an eye-sore? Send over the Man in Black and he’s no longer a problem. Gotta love the Hotel industry!

Play starts with each player being dealt 3 guests (one of each Class) and 5 rumour cards. There’s two play modes in THAT: Dead Simple & Simply Deadly. In the Dead Simple mode gameplay is well.. Dead simple! Going clockwise, each player plays a Rumour card on a guests and the draws a new card! In Simply Deadly play can get a little more complicated: at the beginning of each phase (hold on, I’ll get there) a die is rolled to see what each player gets to do for all the turns in that phase. This can range from the regular Play one, Draw one to Play one, steal one from the player next to you and they get to draw a new card to Play 2, Draw 2. This game mode to me adds a lot of variety to this fast-paced ‘take that’ game.

The Game consists of three phases (no matter if you play the long or the short version of the game) made up out of several turns and at the start of each phase a new ‘room’ opens up and gets filled with a new guest. Each player rolls a die and depending on your roll you get a Lower, Middle or Upper-class guest! Note that you can’t have any ‘empty’ rooms, so if one of your guests get killed, there’s several discard options for you to decide which class your new guest will have… of course, this will cost you some rumour cards which will go to the player that killed off your guest.

At the end of the final turn all the math is done and the player who has the highest number of reputation points (left), wins the game

Final Judgement:

THAT is a simple, fast paced ‘take that’ card game that is a heck of a lot of fun! The options you have (build your own rep or destroy the other players’), the style in which it’s presented (the mix of ‘real persons’ and fictional characters on the guest cards as well as the texts on the Rumour cards are pretty funny, ever tried to get Tesla an illegitimate child?). Even though it is in essence a simple game, there IS a lot of strategy involved, especially if played with 3 or more players!

I was (very) late with this review (Again, sorry for that) as it is done when the campaign is about halfway, but after playing only a few rounds, I immediately ran to my computer and pressed the Back-this-Project button because it is THAT much fun!

A Great, Stylish take on simple, yet elegantly put ‘Take-That’ mechanics.

And that’s my final Judgement!
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