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Michael Debije
Netherlands
Eindhoven
The Netherlands
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Groo and the Groo expansion set were designed by Ken Whitman and were produced by Archangel Entertainment in 1997. It handles from 2-4 players (2-6 with the expansion) and plays in about an hour.

What You Get


Groo comes in a small, rather flimsy card box with a great illustration of Groo preparing to cast the dice in a tense game by Sergio Aragonés. Inside you get 60 oversize, lavishly-illustrated, colorful and very humorous cards and 7 dice, the sides of which must be stickered. The small expansion box, also with a nice illustration, comes with 55 more cards. The original cost of Groo was $16 with a $8 expansion set. For the time, it was pretty steep, but really nothing compared to a standard Steve Jackson game today. The cards are pretty sturdy and great looking, and the dice are also rather solid, so production got a big thumbs-up from me.

What You Do

The goal of Groo is to build ten points of buildings, defending them with your army while avoiding the rampages of the clumsy barbarian, Groo. The cards in the card deck come in several colors: the orange cards are buildings, each with a number (defense value and point value, both) and description: almost every building and card has a ‘special ability’, and these abilities really make the game interesting. Some buildings will score extra if you make a certain combination, like if you have the butcher, baker, and candlestick maker in the same town. Some add defense to your troops, some allow you to exchange goods. The green cards are army cards, like pikemen or archers, or special characters, like Chakall or the Dragon. These are rated for their combat value. The yellow cards are Groo effect cards: when played, these cards cause Groo to do what he does best: mess up the situation of the region he is in. The red cards are ‘wild’, and can be played at any time, and the violet cards are events, which immediately halt play when drawn, to allow their effects to take place, such as passing your hand to your neighbor or making goods you own worthless for a turn. There is also one Groo card depicting the bewildering barbarian. The position of this card will dictate where the Groo effect cards will act: more on this later.

Five cards are dealt to each player. Each player turn has six phases. Once these are complete, the next player gets his/her turn. The first phase is for discarding any cards you wish from your hand, to be replaced by new draws in phase two. If an event is drawn, it is immediately applied. Phase three allows you to declare one attack using your army against another player. The attack strength is calculated by adding the total attack values of all committed troops. The defender can opt to use his own troops to defend. The respective attack and defense values are determined, modified by any buildings or other effect cards. If the attacker scores higher, the defender must make up the difference in building values, discarding a number of structures equal to the difference in the combat values. If the defender has a higher score, huzzah! The town is safe. All troops used, both for attack and defense, are discarded after the battle.

Phase four is the construction phase. The seven dice are rolled at this point. One die is the Groo Movement die. Groo can either stay in the town he is in (if the Rufferto dog head comes up) or move one or two towns to the left or right of the phasing player. The other six dice display goods: goods, labor, money or Groo heads. Each orange, green, and yellow card have a cost for activation, shown on the card. Using the dice results, the phasing player can build cards from his hand. For example, the Dragon costs a coin, a labor, and a good. The Groo heads can be used to activate the yellow Groo effect cards, usually resulting in the disbanding of armies or loss of buildings at Groo’s location. Once the phasing player has built all he/she wants (or is able), phase five starts wherein any unused dice are passed to the next player, who may try to build cards from his own hand. This continues until all six dice have been used, or everyone has had an opportunity to build with the remaining dice. The last phase has everyone refilling their hands to five cards. If the phasing player has ten points in buildings, they have won! Else, the game continues with the next player taking their turn.

What I Think


First, I would never play Groo without the expansion cards. Namely, the basic deck only has one event card, which is a real shame. Groo is a very random game, but I think packs a lot of fun and laughs in a little box. I really like the artwork (the orphanage is my favorite) and like the ‘take that’ aspects of the game. The dice rolling/resource production mechanism works quite well. With six players the game can drag on for 90 minutes, which is too long. A two to four player game is about right, and ends in 30 to 60 minutes. There is a little option for strategy in which cards you want to hold/discard, how big an army you want to use or whether it is better to go for a building ‘blitz’. The wild cards add some real uncertainty, and you never know when the nasty event cards will pop up. If you are a Groo fan, or if you like a light, destructive card game and don’t plan to take it too seriously, I heartily recommend Groo, but only with the expansion set.
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Scott Everts
United States
Foothill Ranch
California
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Good job on a nice review. This is my all time favorite cardgame and I highly recommend it. And it's a plus if you like the Groo comic which has been running for 20+ years on and off. There's a new 4 part series (titled "Hell on Earth") from Dark Horse.

This is getting harder to find since its been out of print for awhile. I recently picked up another card game called Medievalia which plays very similiar to Groo but is still in print. It doesn't have the "screw you" cards or a wondering Mendicant so less chaotic but has a similar empire building theme and alittle more robust combat system.
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Anselmo Diaz
United Kingdom
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ScottE wrote:
Good job on a nice review. This is my all time favorite cardgame and I highly recommend it. And it's a plus if you like the Groo comic which has been running for 20+ years on and off. There's a new 4 part series (titled "Hell on Earth") from Dark Horse.

This is getting harder to find since its been out of print for awhile. I recently picked up another card game called Medievalia which plays very similiar to Groo but is still in print. It doesn't have the "screw you" cards or a wondering Mendicant so less chaotic but has a similar empire building theme and alittle more robust combat system.


Wow!! My thoughts exactly.


I didn't know there was a new series...I'm going to look for it right now
 
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Scott Everts
United States
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California
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Echtalion wrote:
I didn't know there was a new series...I'm going to look for it right now


Issue 3 just came out. Shocked me a couple months ago when I first saw issue 1. I figured we'd never see another Groo but there it was! thumbsup
 
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Simon Lundström
Sweden
Täby
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Now who are these five?
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I got the game in Japan and jumped on it. Never got the expansion, though, and everyone says it improves the game so much…
 
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Scott Everts
United States
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California
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I have every Groo comic too! Though not every printing of every comic. As I got the collections I sold off my originals since they were printed on newspaper and didn't hold up too well.

We are sad!
 
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Brad Hurst
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Gastonia
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ScottE wrote:
Echtalion wrote:
I didn't know there was a new series...I'm going to look for it right now


Issue 3 just came out. Shocked me a couple months ago when I first saw issue 1. I figured we'd never see another Groo but there it was! thumbsup


Groo will always be coming up with new issue #1's...what is the issue #1 count now anyway!?
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