Kevin Bender has been on a game-acquisition binge, obtaining seemingly dozens of new titles over the past few weeks. One of them is What’s Wild?, a rummy-like card game from Little Shoe Publishing wherein the suits of cards have the appearance of different animal skins. The objective is to form runs and straights and “go out” before your opponents, causing them to lose points for the cards remaining in their hands.
The game is played over ten rounds, which is WAY too many for a luck-dominated game. In the first round, players receive three cards as a starting hand, and this amount increases by one on each subsequent round. A player’s turn is very simple:
• Take the top card from the draw pile, or the top card from the discard pile;
• Discard a card to the discard stack.
Players are attempting to form “Go Wild” by forming sets and straights (“herds” and “caravans” in game parlance) with all of the cards in their hand. A set is at least three cards of the same value, while a straight is at least three cars of the same suit that are in numerical order. Making the task easier is the presence of wild cards, and the fact that one numerical value is considered wild. Once a player can use all of the cards in his hand, he may declare that he has “Gone Wild” and play all of his cards to the table, thereby ending the round. Every player has one opportunity to play whatever sets or straights he has accumulated. Any remaining cards will cost players points equal to the value of the cards still remaining in their hands.
It isn’t until round six that multiple sets and/or straights can be formed. Until then, players must concentrate on only one grouping.
Adding much-needed spice to the game are the chameleon cards, which allow s player to change the “wild” suit. The wild suit is initially the value equal to the number of cards with which each player begins a round, but this can change several times during a round by the playing of chameleon cards. The proper timing of these cards is important, but one should be careful not to wait too long as being stuck with a chameleon card in one’s hand will cost negative twenty points at the end of a round.
There really isn’t much at all to What’s Wild? This truly is a game of simply getting lucky with the cards you draw. Draw the cards you need, and you’ll be able to go out. Hope that someone doesn’t change the “wild” value, or if they do, hope they change it to a number you can use. Skill has no presence in this jungle.
I put the game in the same league as UNO, Phase 10 or Skip-Bo … but not as good or fun. I can see fans of those games enjoying What’s Wild?, but anyone looking for a game with at least a few meaningful decisions will be disappointed. In the future, I’ll do my best to stay out of this jungle.
Due to the late hour, we only played seven of the suggested ten rounds, but that was enough. On numerous rounds, several players only had one or two turns before someone went out. This was quite frustrating, as it was all based on happenstance. Rhonda had the fewest points when we called it an evening.
Finals: Rhonda 23, Bo 43, Sheila 52, Kevin 70, Greg 73, Ryan 81
Ratings: Kevin 6, Sheila 5.5, Rhonda 5.5, Bo 5, Ryan 5, Greg 3