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The box arrived today.

"How cute!" It looked like a mini version of 13 Days. And when I opened the box I was surprised to see a very minimalist approach to it's parent game "13 Days". The box size is the same size as a boxed version of Love Letter. Inside the box is the same insert as you would see in a boxed version of Love Letter. A cardboard insert holding the deck of 13 cards, the small zip-loc of cubes, and the card-sized rule book. Literally the same internal footprint as a game of Love Letter. But the comparisons between 13 Minutes and Love Letter are only physical.

As I looked at the components, 13 cards and a few cubes, it didn't look like there could be much of a game here. Even after reading the rules it seemed awkward and possibly dissapointing. I just didn't see much of a game here. I am very happy to say I was wrong. There is a game here. In fact I'm truly shocked at how much game is in this box.



How Does it Play?


Spoiler alert, I love it. There is some bluffing, a good amount of strategey, and an amazing amount of meaningful decisions. Especially considering this is marketed as a micro game! There is some card counting that isn't hard at all. 5 yellow, 4 green, 4 purple. Or 5 US, 5 USSR, and 3 UN cards. If you're familiar with 13 Days then these cards should seem like second nature to you. Mechanically they are virtually the same cards as 13 Days. Complete with events and influence cubes. All complimented with an intuitively designed card and eye-catching graphics.

There are literally 5 rounds to the game. And a round is play a card for influence/event, draw a card. Next. 5 times. Game end. How can a game with 5 cards played be any good? Beats me, it just is. If it weren't for 13 Days preceding this game I'd say that 13 Minutes is a stroke of genius. But it had a great game to build off of.

After you've played those 5 cards the end game starts. Where there is some tension as you each reveal your last card to check for Nuclear War. Even though you don't actually do anything in the end game, you are playing your turns preparing for it. As it can matter quite a bit.



Conclusion? I LOVE this game

This game is exceptionally deep for a micro game. My wife just didn't like it. It's just too thinky for her. Not that this game is all that deep, but it's much deeper than Love Letter - which is what you're expecting after seeing the components. My gamer friend and I played quite a few games in a row. And could have kept going, but he had to leave.

We found that card counting is a crucial element of strategy. Now, don't worry. Card counting for a 52 card deck in poke is a lot different than a 13 card deck in this game. It's easy, but you really need to take the cards on the table into consideration as you enter the last couple of turns. They matter as you enter the end game.

Most of our games ended very, very closely in sore. 6-5, 7-5 etc. And in many cases, the winner was determined by the cards held in hand. Thanks to card counting it came down to a 50/50. You either forced the player in in Nuclear War (and a loss), or they won. This isn't as anticlimactic as it sounds because you have to play very precisely to get to this point. A little bluffing on your part never hurts either.

The cards have events that can play nasty. One card (I forget it's title), allowed you to move cards from your sphere of influence to your opponent's. If you're playing last and do this you can - if you did things right previous to this card - force the player into Nuclear War. It was great fun and we both pulled it off a few times, especially in the first few games. Likewise, if you know you can't win you can sometimes change the strategy towards a "mutual loss" as we called it. Forcing both players into nuclear war/suicide.

All this strategy and fun is compressed into 13 cards and 26 cubes. Simply brilliant. After a ton of games we jokingly called it "13 Seconds." We knew the cards by heart and didn't have to read anything. So we were just left to play the game and not have the game play us (as is the case in a lot of newly learned CDGs).

Do I have anything negative to say? Some small things. If you play the game at least once you'll understand this complaint a bit better, but I found the card backs to be awfully bland and sort of uninspiring if not a tad ugly. Since any card back counted as cuba they could have just made the card backs more commercially pleasing and it wouldn't have changed how the game plays. Maybe a picture of Cuba, or the "13 Minutes" box art with a yellow "2" (for Cuba) would have been better. No harm done as it's purely cosmetic. But in a game genre so overloaded with choices (the micro game market) I think the bland card backs might have been a missed opportunity.

Secondly, the Military cards have a "1+" yellow circle while the others simply have a "1". II know this is because the player who has the military advantage gets a bonus point, but it seemed to confuse rather than simplify for us. A quick look on BGG explained things to us. We didn't need the end-game rules written on the cards and we didn't need the "1+" written on the military cards. Again, a small complaint, but it could be confusing in the mass market.

Other than thos two small complaints I think this game is a stroke of genius. I didn't try this as a PnP and my first experiences with this game were when the box arrived tonight. I can't say enough good things about it. I'll have to see how much I like/dislike this game in another 6 months, but given the investment of time to learn it (10 minutes) to the amount of game inside this box, it's probably going to stay high on my list.

I might say that this game seems to be on the edge of being a gamer's-only game. There is a lot of thinking and decisions here for a non-gamer who prefers luck and dice chucking. But that's good news for us gamers who can't find good micro games!

Thumb's up, Even the box looks cool!

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Asger Harding Granerud
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I'm not sure you know how much that first review matters to a designer! It is a stone from ones heart Super glad to hear you loved it, I hope it will hit the table many more times!

Happy nuking
Asger Granerud

PS Daniel and I worked on a prototype for 13 Seconds earlier today, so leave that name alone!

PPS Here is 13.13 geekgold for you!
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After re-reading the review it would make more sense after you have played the game at least 3 or 4 times. It takes a lot for granted. Still, love the game and that sentiment should ring clear.

One other thing to address was the (oddly) hot contested bidding for first. Going first does matter. Not a lot, but enough you want to bid for it. Also, and unlike 13 Days, the amount of cubes you have in 13 Minutes seems a bit more forgiving than in 13 days. I bid 3 for first many times and had won games with 3 or 4 cubes unplaced by the end of the game. In 13 Days the cube counts on some battlegrounds was maxed out. In 13 Minutes it seems all but the contested cubes win with either 1 or 0 cubes (you claim a battleground just by having it in your own spehere of influence if there are no cubes on it).

Normally I;d say, "13 Seconds?" for another iteration? How could it be any shorter? But I said the same thing about 13 Minutes before playing it. So I'm eating a yummy slice of humble pie there. And I'll wait for 13 Seconds with curiosity instead of skepticism.

13 Days and 13 Minutes puts these designers on my "near insta-buy" list with the likes of Uwe Rosenberg. Now you've done the near impossible and escaped the one-hit-wonder syndrome by designing two great games back to back. I'm looking for the trifecta!

And hey, 13 Minutes is a great travel game. You could literally play this game on a plane flight, the park, a dinner table while waiting for your food. The footprint is tiny and you don't need much space. Again, another plus.

Keep up the good work!
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David Janik-Jones
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I had a blast playing with this when it was first in the play-test stage and will pick up a copy as soon as a local retailer has it. Near insta-buy list is right on, these guys are hitting home runs and they are also genuinely nice people as well. Congrats on the release (guess I can pack up my play test copy).
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Kevin Garnica
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Now all we need is 13 Hours! laugh
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pacman88k wrote:
Now all we need is 13 Hours! laugh


We have that, it's called "Twilight Struggle, best 3 out of 5"
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Laurent
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Thanks Maddest Hatter for this very helpful review.

About this (in case it's useful to future readers of this review):
Quote:
If you play the game at least once you'll understand this complaint a bit better, but I found the card backs to be awfully bland and sort of uninspiring if not a tad ugly. Since any card back counted as cuba they could have just made the card backs more commercially pleasing and it wouldn't have changed how the game plays. Maybe a picture of Cuba, or the "13 Minutes" box art with a yellow "2" (for Cuba) would have been better. No harm done as it's purely cosmetic. But in a game genre so overloaded with choices (the micro game market) I think the bland card backs might have been a missed opportunity.


It looks like you have been heard. I received the game yesterday and the back side of the cards show Cuba and its 2 prestige points.



That's really great.

Laurent.
 
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Actually that's the "bland" card back I was referring to. Lol. I mesnt a colorful depiction of Cuba, or better still a card back similar to the box art with a yellow 2 on the bottom. Jist sometbing mord thzn dull gray. They look so muted compared to the card fronts. For what it's worth, gour photo does illustrate my issue (as opposed to the fix
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Tim Tix
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cferejohn wrote:
pacman88k wrote:
Now all we need is 13 Hours! laugh


We have that, it's called "Twilight Struggle, best 3 out of 5"


No, that's 13 Years...
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TimTix wrote:
cferejohn wrote:
pacman88k wrote:
Now all we need is 13 Hours! laugh


We have that, it's called "Twilight Struggle, best 3 out of 5"


No, that's 13 Years...


...I sense a franchise in the making!
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Players don't bid for going first. Players bid for deciding who goes first. Easy to misread that rule.
 
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icarusmustburn wrote:
Players don't bid for going first. Players bid for deciding who goes first. Easy to misread that rule.


Well yes, technically you are correct, however...

In my experience with this game the only reason to bid is to go first. Period. There is no reason to spend cubes in a bid for second. If you want second, bid with am empty hand. There is an slight and intentional advantage to going first. However, this advantage is mitigated by the bidding. ...If for some reason a player wants to go second, he simply bids zero.

In some other board games you sometimes want to make the other player go first. In 13 Minutes? I've played a ton of games and against a number of different opponents. Nobody has bid on anything other than the right to go first.

I'd love for someone to overbid me and then tell me I "have" to go first.

Edited for clarity again and again.
 
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Odd that the designers and others appear to hold the opposite opinion of going first.
 
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icarusmustburn wrote:
Odd that the designers and others appear to hold the opposite opinion of going first.


I'm not sure where you're getting that impression from.

But again, your mileage may vary. After you get a few games under your belt I'd be surprised if you see no value in going first.
 
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