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Subject: Guillotine - A Lunchtime Gaming Review rss

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Andy
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Manchester
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I'm fortunate enough to have a small group of people at my workplace to play games with at lunchtime... Lunchtime gaming has certain requirements that are very different from other types of gaming, so this is a review based primarily on those.


Features of lunchtime gaming

Short Duration - As we only have 45 minutes to play, and our group likes to play 2 or 3 games in that time, games need to play within 15-20 minutes.

Easy to Learn - The first play must take no longer than 45 minutes, ideally should be 30 mintues or less, and it really helps if we can fit in a 2nd play on the same day. In addition, the game must be straightforward enough that non-gamers pick up the mechanisms quite quickly.

Screwage - The nature of gaming with work colleagues in the middle of tough/stressful days means we want to vent, and what better way to do so than to pick on each other, so games with a high "Screw You" factor go down well. This can either be direct play against other players, or more subtle manipulation of the game state.

Variability - In my group, a good lunchtime game sees a lot of play.. therefore a game has to have a very high replay return on learning investment... Games that are very similar every time they get played soon tire.

Fun - Probably the most important aspect of lunchtime gaming is having a bit of fun, to relieve the stress or monotony of the working day. A lunchtime game needs a fun theme... preferably one that's not too childish... and it needs to encourage a bit of excitement and table talk. Ideally people in other rooms should hear that you're having a good time!


How does Guillotine Stack Up

For my group Guillotine is pretty much the benchmark of what a lunchtime game should be. It scores very highly in the areas discussed above, and it has stuck around far longer than many other games we've tried. Here's how it rates.

Duration -
Although the box states 30 minutes, with experience and quick play a game will last at most 15 minutes, and we regularly get in 3 games of Guillotine in our 45 minute period.

Ease of Learning -
The rules for Guillotine are pretty straightforward, and turns consist of playing an action card (all of which are fairly self explanatory), followed by collecting a scoring card. There can be some odd combinations that occur, particularly as the scoring cards often have special rules too, and taking all this in on a first play is not always easy. For these reasons however it scores highly in the Variability category.

Screwage -
Guillotine has tons of opportunity for screwage... many of the action cards directly affect one or more other players... and on top of that, you can also manipulate the scoring cards to affect your opponents too, since many of them are negative or have interesting special rules.

Variability -
With the quantity and variability of the action cards, as well as all the different scoring cards (not all of which are used in every game), the game has a very high replayability... games can be vastly different and winning scores have been anything from 9 to 36... although scoring within a game is usually fairly consistent between the players.

Fun -
Guillotine has a great theme, beheading nobles and state officials in Revolutionary France... and with all the screwage and picking on the leader, there is plenty of table talk and excitement.. particularly when plans to stuff up another player pay off.


Cons

Our biggest gripe is keeping track of everyone's score.... there is no scoring track, so we either have to provide our own, or manually count up points throughout the game to determine who's winning (so we can pick on them!!!)


Summary

- Duration
- Ease of Learning
- Screwage
- Variability
- Fun

So far I have racked up 177 plays of Guillotine, and I can see it continuing to get a lot of play at lunchtime.. so the high score is complimented by a high quantity of plays.

Total - 24/25
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Christopher Onstad
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Donald
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Out of curiosity how many people do you generally play with?
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Andy
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xofour wrote:
Out of curiosity how many people do you generally play with?
Usually 3 or 4 people.

Duration isn't affected too much in this range of players, and despite lots of talk about 'not getting a day' when we play with 4, the 4th player does frequently win.
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Chris Ferejohn
United States
Mountain View
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Pitying fools as hard as I can...
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My complaint with this game is that while you appear to have lots of options (5 cards in hand to choose from), one of them is almost always the obviously correct one, so it does tend to feel like it plays itself. Its a fun little filler though. I love the purpose-driven review!
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A. B. West
United States
Beech Grove
Indiana
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Why aren't you PLAYING a game?
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Thumbs up for Lunchtime Gaming Review! This fills an important niche for me and my gaming group - fun games that get off the table in between first sip of tea and last bite of sandwich.
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Rod Batten
Canada
St. John's
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Great review! I love the format. It's nice to see some coverage of the points that make these small games so versatile.
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Rob D
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Largo
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This game is a fantastic time filler and I can see how it fits perfectly with your stated scenario. The only problem is that, for me anyway, this game has such a "just one more" quality that a 30 minute session can fold into 2 hours without much difficulty. Is it the most strategic thinking man's game ever made? Absolutely not. Is it a boat load of fun with the right group? Absolutely yes.

By the way..for those into this sort of thing..this game makes one hell of a drinking game with a few usually non-gamer buddies on a Friday night.
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