We love our pups!! Misu, RIP 28 Nov 2010. Tikka, RIP 11 Aug 2011.
This was the last longish game of the night, after stuffing ourselves silly again ??? (cheese and crackers, 5-layer dip, pita, pasta, italian sausage, pork roast, pound cake with blueberries and fresh whipped cream. It was me, Mary and Brian.
We quickly went over ...
The rules. Briefly.
Each player has a figure (cardboard cutout in a plastic stand) that is placed in the start space on the "board" (large folded magazine-type paper!). Winner is the first player to move from the start, to the end ("Hoard"), then come back to the start space. Most rooms have some rules modification that supercede the basic rules. Each player has an identical collection of cards that are shuffled and kept face down. Hand size is 5, and you draw from your stack back up to 5 at the end of each turn, shuffling the discard stack when your draw pile is empty.
Each turn consists of everyone selecting a card from their hand, then revealing them simultaneously. Most cards are "Go" cards numbered 1-8 (2 each): when played, the highest Go card player gets to move forward one space (tie for highest: all move forward). The rest of the cards are special, and have their own effects (e.g., jump forward 2 rooms, make lowest Go card win, move toward the Go winner 1 space, discard hand and draw 5 new cards, exchange positions with the Go winner if the Go was odd/even, discard all cards, discard cards in your room and room behind you, reverse all players' movement direction this turn).
It was initially a tight game, with us clustered together. Then, M pulled away and reached the Hoard. B caught up, while I was stuck several rooms back. B stayed in the lead, and managed to reach the starting space first. The rules were unclear about whether he won immediately, or if you had to be in room 1 at the end of the turn. We decided to play the latter interpretation. B had played a Go 8; M did, too; I played the card to trade places with the go winner. For ties, the 2 tied players duel. They did, and M won. So she was kingmaker: could have had me trade with B (and win) or trade with her (and go from 2nd to 3rd place). She did the latter, so I came in 3rd, M 2nd with B winning.
The components: they stink. This game retails for $24.95. For that, you get a nice big empty box (no insert), a crappy "board", poorly written rules, thin "die-cut" cardboard characters in plastic stands, and 6 sets of cards. The cards are coated and illustrated by Phil Foglio (as is the board), so I don't have complaints about them.
The game play: There is very very little room for strategy. There is some element of reading what your opponents are likely to play. But, with a hand size of only 5 (and about 30 cards to draw from), it's hard to make educated guesses. Really, this seems to be all about luck.
This could have been a nice Cheapass game, but instead it's a typical SJ game - overpriced with poorly written rules and mildly entertaining the first play, but with little strategy and probably poor replay value.