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 Double or Nothing Stack Up
While the published play time is 20 minutes, we found that it was more like 10 minutes for our games... when we played, we would easily get in a couple of games and still have time for a couple of other games as well...
Ease of Learning -
The rules are very straightforward, and the explanation only takes a couple of minutes...
This is pretty much a poster-child for light, push your luck games, so there isn't really any screwage as such. Instead it comes down to who is going to back out first and whether you get screwed by luck.
There's not a lot of variability here... even with the random element of drawing cards, the game played out very similarly each time... and it is so dependant on personality, as you might expect, that certain people always played the same way, and our games would play out in a very similar fashion each time. The scores varied mainly depending on whether the stubborn player(s) won big or not. There are some loosely interesting strategy elements... like using hand cards to kill a potentially high-scoring streak, instead of saving them for when you are going for double.
It's a rather themeless cardgame, but the fun is provided by the push your luck elements, and the tension created by players refusing to back down and let an opponent have a chance at a double score. Flipping those cards can be pretty nervewracking, once everyone else has dropped out. The fun soon wanes however, and the game gets old pretty quickly after a few plays.
The tri-fold board often does not lie flat, and is susceptible to tearing along the fold when attempting to flatten it.. this has been personally witnessed in a couple of copies.
- Ease of Learning
A pretty decent, light, push your luck filler, that was popular the first few times we played it, but then interest waned quite rapidly once our games started getting too similar.
Be on your guard. There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.
Great review, Andy!
I love the format, and I may "borrow" it for my next review.