Game Overview: The Game of Blame is a card game where the Queen’s realm is in chaos and you are trying to avoid her wrath by hiding your failures and blaming everyone else. Have the lowest score at the end of the game and you avoid being banished or executed. The same can’t be said for the other players.
Box Contents: The game consists of a single tuck box which includes 55 cards along with the rules manual. The cards are well made. While playing the game, you are only looking at the emblem that exists in the upper left hand corner of the cards. However, each card is an issue within the Queen’s realm. If you take the time to look at the art and the flavor text on the cards, you will find some very interesting things there that shows the creativity that went into the game.
Clarity of Rules: The rules manual is just a one page/double sided piece of glossy paper that is folded up to fit into the tuck box. It does an excellent job in explaining the rules and is easy to read.
Game Play: At the beginning of the game, players take one of the six role cards, which match up with an emblem color that may be found on the issue cards. The remaining role cards are placed face up on the table as players can and will switch their roles throughout the game. The roles that you can select from are:
Viceroy (Green Emblem)
Treasurer (Yellow Emblem)
Archbishop (Purple Emblem)
Spymaster (Grey Emblem)
Wizard (Blue Emblem)
General (Red Emblem)
The issues deck covers all of the issues that are occurring throughout the Queen’s realm and the cards will have either one or two of the emblems that match the role cards. If the issue matches your emblem, then you are responsible for it.
Initially, each player is given 3 issue cards and the remaining cards are placed into the middle of the table and the top card is flipped over which starts the blame pile. On your turn, you can play up to three cards from your hand to the blame pile. To play a card, the card in your hand must have an emblem (color) that matches an emblem on the top card in the blame pile. You will also find treason cards, which when played can count as a wild for any emblem type.
A unique aspect to the game is that the number of cards that you were able to play dictates what you do next.
If you played no cards, you must draw three cards into your hand.
If you played one card, you draw one card into your hand.
If you played 2 cards, you must swap 2 role cards. The role cards that are to be swapped are based on the emblems that are on the top of the blame pile. If only one emblem is there, you must switch that one with one of your choice. The swapping of role cards may occur between players or from role cards that are not currently in play.
If you played 3 cards, you must accuse another player. When accusing another player, both you and the other player go through the blame pile and count how many issues you are responsible for based on the emblems and the current role cards you have. Whoever has the most responsibility for the issues must take the entire blame pile into their hand. At this point, all players that were not responsible for the blame pile are able to place a single card into a secret pile which will not count against you throughout the rest of the game.
An optional rule, which in our opinion is essential for the game, is to use the rules that reside on each of the role cards.
Viceroy-If another player swaps your role, you may immediately draw three cards and swap it back.
Treasurer-If you play no cards you bury one card into your secrets pile.
Archbishop-When you play one card you give one card from your hand to another player.
Spymaster-If you play three cards, you are not able to accuse anyone. Instead, you must take all of another player’s secrets into your hand. Then you give one card from your hand to their hand.
Wizard-If you play two cards, instead of swapping roles you must exchange your hand with any other player.
General-If you have no secrets, you cannot be accused by another player.
Game play continues with players taking turns until the last card of the draw deck is taken. That player then takes the last blame pile into their hand.
Scoring occurs with each player counting the number of emblems in their hand that match their current role. In addition, if they have a treason card in their hand they must add six points to their total for each treason card. The player that scores the lowest number has proven that they are truly in the queen’s favor, for now.
Replay Ability: There is more replay ability here than what you would normally see with a deck of cards. This occurs because the game will never take the same path with how the roles get switched around, getting stuck with the blame piles, and the how the treason cards come into play.
Appropriate Audience: The game suggests 9+ but you should be able to go down to 7 or 8 years of age as some reading is needed.
What We Liked/Didn't Like: With the game being just fifty five cards and all fitting into a single tuck box, it is a great game that doesn’t take up very much space and is easy to take on the go. It is also very easy to teach the game to others.
There was a lot more depth to the game than what we expected and truly requires strategy to get the lowest score possible. From choosing the number of cards that you play on your turn and how that affects your hand size, deciding what to do with treason cards, to even taking the blame on purpose to get certain embalm combinations into your hand.
Finding out who the winner is, will always be a surprise. Having the most cards in your hand does not mean a loss as you may have gotten rid of all treason cards and all cards that you are responsible for and still come out with zero points.
The game supports from 2 to 4 players and with 2 it wasn't as strong as a game. You really need to get to 3 and 4 players to see the finer points of the game come into play.
The only thing we didn't really like about the game was the rule that if you take the blame and take all of the cards into your hand, you start the next blame pile. With this rule in place other players have to sit and wait for their turn sometimes. It almost seemed to play better for us if we just continued in the normal order.
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** A review copy was provided to us.