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Contraband» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Eam's review #22, from when the game was new rss

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Eamon Bloomfield
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Contraband has been very successful for a small company like Pepys. I think it must have been inspired by the card game Cheat.

Pepys have provided 10,000 pounds in paper currency, not common in Pepys games as a rule. This sum is shared out amongst the players at the start. The game is for 3+ players, who all have to smuggle as much contraband as they can. One player will be the Custzoms OIfficer but this role changes during the game so that everyone has a chance during the game. In the pack of 54 cards, there are 24 which represent duty-free items, and 29 other cards which are goods upon which duty tax is due, things like whisky, cameras, even the Crown Jewels! They all have a printed value on them, and a fine if you are caught smuggling them past the Customs Officer. There is one special card, the Diplomatic Bag. If you are lucky enough to get that card and, say, lots of Jewelry in your hand, the Customs Officer can't search you. Of course, you can declare it without owning it but there is a heavy fine if you are caught bluffing.

At the start, the first player will draw 4 cards. Depending what they are, he then makes a declaration, which can be true, of course, but it could also be a lie! The Customs Officer then has to decide whether he should accept your claim (and collect the duty that you have admitted) or he may choose to inspect your luggage. In the latter case, and you were bluffing, he can collects the fines payable on the cards used. If he is wrong and you did tell the truth, then you can demand a fee of 200 pounds because he has besmirched your character.

Assuming the bags aren't searched, the game continues by passing the cards to the next player. He discards one and picks up a new one, and so on round the table until the cards are exhausted and it is someone else's turn to be the Customs Officer.

This is a great fun game but not without some skill. It is one of Pepys best-selling games and the cards are up to the expected quality of this company.

(Note: In the 80's, Milton Bradley UK made their version, called Smuggle. I haven't seen their rules but I have been told it is exactly the same as the original)
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