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Subject: Great game, bad puns rss

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Matt N

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I’ve played about 30 games of No Thanks.

Rules


No Thanks is the whipped cream (regular, not fat-free) of board/card games. It is not cheesecake; nor is it water.

The object of the game is to have the least points at the end. Each chip is worth -1, while each card is normally worth its face value. For a consecutive sequence (e.g. 16-17-18), only the lowest card in sequence (16 in this case) counts towards your total points.

Nine cards are removed from the initial starting deck, which initially contains cards 3-35 in random order; these nine cards will not be used. Each player starts with 11 chips (which are kept hidden), and the starting player flips the first card out of the remaining 24 cards. During their turn, a player may:

1. Put a chip on the card to pass it to the next clockwise player, or
2. Take the card and all of the chips on it.

When a player takes a card, they then deal out the next card and take their turn. The game ends when the last card left in the deck is taken.

Ratings:

Theme: 0/10 (Dominion 1/10, Small World 6/10, Agricola 10/10)


Yeah, that’s it.

This game unabashedly has no theme. That’s fine with me; no theme at all can be better than a poorly executed theme for a lot of people.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
If you want, you can think of each chip as a "spell" and each card as a "dragon". Dragons get in each other’s way when they are in sequence, so only the lowest dragon does damage. Taking a card/dragon results in "damage" (points) to your personal village at the end, but gives you all of the "spells" used to keep the dragon from people’s villages. "Spells" can also be used to repair one point of damage each to your village at the end of the game. The player with the least damage to their village at the end of the game is the winner.

I think a version themed this way beats Dominion on theme.


Replayability: 3/10 (Settlers 1/10, Dominion (base set) 4/10, Race for the Galaxy 10/10)

No Thanks is great as an occasional game, but is too short to be a main feature. While pretty much anyone can win, there are subtleties based on the style of the other players, the rough chip counts, the cards that are out, the number of cards remaining, and the decision to take or pass a card that already helps you. It’s accessible to the casual gamer while having enough depth for a hardcore gamer, which is awesome. Don’t be fooled by the lack of strategy posts.

If I considered replayability relative to cost, No Thanks would probably be 8/10.

Ease of learning: 10/10 (Power Grid 2/10, Puerto Rico 7/10, Settlers = 10/10)

Did you read the rules?

Chance: 8/10 (Puerto Rico = 1/10, Race for the Galaxy = 3/10, Settlers = 6.5/10)

There’s a lot of luck involved, much more than any decent longer game. There is still plenty of skill, but it will often take a long time for skill to show up in the form of extra wins.

If you would get mad when losing a 5-10 minute game, you should seriously reconsider your outlook on life.

Interaction: 8/10 (Dominion (base set) 2/10, Race for the Galaxy = 3/10, Settlers = 10/10)

This game is an 8/10, since a fair number of decisions (passing, mainly) make sense in a vacuum. You will do very poorly if you try to compute the value of a card based solely on your internal algorithm where you assign each chip a value of -2.5 and only acquire cards with a point penalty < 8. It’s an interactive game.

"What number of players is best?"

Three to five, but keep in mind that the five player game feels very different than the three player game.

"How much downtime is there?"

The downtime in No Thanks is low. Taking more than thirty seconds to think is probably rude and is definitely rare. Openly thinking tells other people that you’re probably low on chips anyway, so you should plan ahead.

Setup/teardown is very fast. Make everyone take 11 chips, shuffle, set aside nine cards, start.

Final thoughts

This game is really good for a really wide range of people, even non-gamers. I can’t emphasize this enough. It doesn’t overstay its welcome and it is fun. The only reason it’s not 10/10 is because it doesn’t have the same long-term value I’d expect out of a 10, even relative to cost.

I’m not kidding about the bad puns, by the way. It becomes increasingly painful to hear new people pass a card by saying "No Thanks!", or turn down a game by saying "No Thanks!". I try to educate people about not making those puns as part of the game explanation, which lets me at least be grouchy when they make the same jokes anyway.

Buy this game if:
-You enjoy lots of tactical decisions
-You want to play with non-gamers (It’s a gateway game)
-You enjoy the wild swings of fortune
-You like games where reading the review takes longer than learning the game

You may not want this game if:
-You can’t stand losing when you’re the superior player
-You want long-term strategy
-You need theme in a game (but see the spoiler above)

No Thanks gets a 9/10 from me. It’s a great game that excels within its niche and is accessible while having some interesting decisions and tactics. Buy the game, dang it; I know you could make your own copy with ease, but you can afford a $10 game and you ought to reward the publisher for making a great game.

I’ve also reviewed Race for the Galaxy, Settlers of Catan, Ascension, Dominion, Dominion: Intrigue, Small World, Ra, Hoity Toity, and Agricola, if you want context.
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Jason Weed
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Memphis
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how sweet the sound...
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It's a nice filler, but I there are others I prefer now. It had its time though.
 
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William McDuff
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"'A grey man,' she said. 'Neither white nor black, but partaking of both. Is that what you are, Ser Davos?' 'What if I am? It seems to me most men are grey.'" -- Lady Melisandre of Asshai and Ser Davos Seaworth from A Clash of Kings by G.R.R. Martin
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Sounds like you play the game standard style; have you tried the strategic style (removing 10, 20 & 30 and six other cards)? What did you think of it?

I need to try the standard style, I suppose. I think I've always played strategic.
 
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Johannes cum Grano Salis
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Finger Lakes
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"It's not hard to design a game that works, the real challenge is making one that people want to play again and again."--Martin Wallace
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Stunna wrote:


If you would get mad when losing a 5-10 minute game, you should seriously reconsider your outlook on life.



Amen, brother. Amen.

J

(Also, great review).
 
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Calavera Despierta
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wmcduff wrote:
Sounds like you play the game standard style; have you tried the strategic style (removing 10, 20 & 30 and six other cards)? What did you think of it?

I need to try the standard style, I suppose. I think I've always played strategic.


Also, depending on your group's tolerance for hidden information and memory in games, playing closed handed adds some significant tension to the game--cards are revealed face up, but are turned face down after a player takes them. It adds an extra thing for players to be paying attention to, and makes sending a particular card around the table a few extra times to harvest coins (since no one may remember you have the next card in the series) all the more tantalizing. I've seen some scores approaching 0 because of this.

Also, to the OP... Agricola is 10/10 on theme? You need to play something actually thematic I think.
 
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Matt N

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Thanks for the replies everyone.

wmcduff wrote:
Sounds like you play the game standard style; have you tried the strategic style (removing 10, 20 & 30 and six other cards)? What did you think of it?


I haven't tried it yet, although I will try to now that you've mentioned it. I like the regular style for teaching new people at least, and I don't mind the luck factor (which is unusual for me).

MScrivner wrote:
Also, depending on your group's tolerance for hidden information and memory in games, playing closed handed adds some significant tension to the game--cards are revealed face up, but are turned face down after a player takes them.


That's an interesting idea, but it fits terribly with my personal tastes. Some of the readers might be enticed however.

MScrivner wrote:
Also, to the OP... Agricola is 10/10 on theme? You need to play something actually thematic I think.


Heh, I get this response a lot. I don't see why rolling a lot of dice or having a lot of complicated rules necessarily makes a game thematic, and I've been disappointed by "thematic" games before. A lack of game balance or strategy hurts theme just as much as having cheap components; how am I supposed to be be nervous and struggling to defeat an ancient evil when I'm playing with three other people in Arkham Horror and winning every time? 10 does not mean perfect, but it means that theme should be a strength for most people.

The other, cop-out answer is that my scale is defined for Eurogames, and Agricola is a 10/10 as far as Eurogames go.
 
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Chris Berger
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madtiger wrote:
If none want a card(for example:35,34 or 33)in one round,how to do?Take card and chips to discard pile or the last one must get it?This game like a minitype versteigern.


You take turns. If you don't want the card, put a chip on it. If you want it, or have no chips, take the card and all the chips on it. There is no discard pile. When the 35 comes out, there's a decent chance it will go around the table until someone runs out of chips (or is down to 1 or 2 and doesn't want to risk being empty - because having no chips is a terrible position to be in).
 
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