Darryl T.
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The year is 3000. Far from inventing the suicide booth and electing Richard Nixon’s head as president of the USA, civilisation has regressed to a point where we worship anyone who can operate so much as a toaster. So how exactly can we rebuild a dysfunctional futuristic society? Sheamus Parkes seems to have an answer to that - instead of poring over the philosophies of The Republic, we should all just hunker down and play rummy instead!

Despite having a name more appropriate for a lunar probe, Plato 3000 is in fact a simple card game for 2 to 4 players. Its gameplay is easy to pick up, and should be intuitive to anyone who has played games in the Mystery Rummy series, such as Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper and Wyatt Earp.


Components

Plato 3000 comes in a small box, the size of playing cards, which you can easily slip into your pocket. Inside are 54 sturdy cards, a rules sheet and a reference card. Each card features whimsical artwork of a steampunk contraption in connection to the card’s title. (Some illustrations, like the Philosopher, are so outright bizarre that I’m still figuring out what it’s supposed to depict.) Plato 3000 also benefits from sensible graphic design. The name and point value of the cards can be viewed whether you fan the cards out to the left, right and even vertically, a design choice which left-handed players would appreciate.


Can you spot some of the Easter eggs in the artwork?


Setup and Gameplay Basics

If you’re familiar with the Mystery Rummy series, you might want to skip this part and go straight to Gameplay Innovations in Plato 3000 where I explain what’s different in Plato 3000.

Plato 3000 is played over several rounds, and players score points at the end of each round. Points are accumulated as the rounds progress and the goal of the game is to be the first player to reach 100 points.

At the start of each round, each player is dealt a hand of cards. Depending on the number of players, each player may start with a hand of 8, 9 or 10 cards. The remaining cards form the Draw Deck. There are 2 discard piles, both of which are kept face up – a Research Discard (which is oriented perpendicular to the Draw Deck) and a Scrap Discard (which is oriented parallel to the Draw Deck).

At the start of the active player’s turn, that player may choose to either research or excavate. If a player chooses to research, that player views the top 2 cards of the Draw Deck, and then adds 1 of those cards into his or her hand, discarding the remaining card into the Research Discard pile. If a player chooses to excavate, he or she draws the top card of either discard pile.

The active player may then play cards from his or her hand. There are three kinds of cards in the deck: Jobs are the most abundant, and come in 8 distinct sets. If a player wants to play Jobs from his or her hand when no other matching Jobs of that set are in play, then that player must play a matching set of 3 Jobs. This is known as initiating a job, or melding in rummy terms. (Players can only initiate 1 job a turn.) Once a job is initiated, any player may play Jobs from that set into their respective play areas during their turn. Engines are used as wild cards when initiating a job, but score negative points at the end of the round. The last type of card, Theory, offers unique effects when played, but only one Theory may be played a turn.


A game in motion – to the right of the Draw Deck is the Research Discard, and to the left is the Scrap Discard.


At the end of an active player’s turn, he or she must discard a card from his or her hand into the Scrap Discard pile. If the player then has no cards in hand, he or she is considered to have ‘gone out’. In 2P games, the game ends immediately once either player goes out. In 3P games, the game ends when only 1 player is left with cards in hand (i.e. the 2 other players have gone out), and in 4P games (which is played in teams), the game ends once two teammates have gone out. Alternatively, the game also ends once the Draw Deck is exhausted.

Players then score points for cards that they’ve played down into their play area, and subtract points for any cards remaining in their hand. (The player who goes out has no cards in hand, and so does not subtract anything from his or her score.) The scores are then added to the previous totals, and if any player reaches 100 points, the player with the highest score is declared the winner. If no player has reached 100 points, then another round is played.


Gameplay Innovations in Plato 3000

So far, Plato 3000 works with the standard framework of the Mystery Rummy series – Jobs are the sets to be melded, while the play-once-per-turn Theories are essentially Gavel/Sheriff cards. Now, in most rummy variants, melds which are played down don't really do anything and just chill out until the scoring round. This is where the major twist in Plato 3000 comes in - sets of Jobs grant players extra abilities that change the rules of the game, such as accessing more cards or initiating jobs earlier. Some other jobs score additional points at the end of the game, or allow you to mess around with your opponent’s play area. Moreover, not all Jobs are valued equally – each Job has a unique point distribution across cards in its set. There are other more subtle tweaks in Plato 3000, such as the research action and the presence of 2 discard piles, but they also have an effect on gameplay.


Most Job abilities, such as the Fisherman, are activated once you have at least 2 matching Jobs in play.



Thoughts on the Game

Gameplay-wise, Plato 3000 is pretty straightforward – the player who goes out first has a better chance of winning the round. There are no conditional shut-outs, and save for certain exceptions, the values of cards are fixed and direct player interaction is kept to a minimum. While the majority of decisions to be made are bordering on the obvious, there are moments in the game where you’ll have to exercise those brain cells a little. Some examples include the dilemma of accepting the point penalty of Engines in order to initiate a job you might need, and choosing which card to discard at the end of the turn, as your opponent might benefit from picking up that card.


The Metaphysics Theory is a tricky card - it can net a lot of useful cards, but picks up unwanted ones as well.


Plato 3000 is a speedy game, with a typical round lasting no longer than 5 turns and taking mere minutes to complete. Half of the available Jobs have abilities that increase your chances of picking up a useful card, and 2 more Jobs help in initiating jobs early. In addition, getting a hand a clogged with Theories is a rarity as Theories form only a fifth of the deck. (For comparison, Gavel cards comprise more than a third of the deck in Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper.) With a number of gameplay tweaks aimed at accelerating getting cards out of your hand, going out is unsurprisingly easy – just as you build up a wicked combo, the round ends and you find yourself dealing cards for the next round.

While the uncomplicated and quick gameplay may appeal to some players, it can also be frustrating for others. Luck tends to snowball – getting an advantageous set of Jobs early on increases the chance of getting better cards, which in turn enables players to go out faster. This means that players can be screwed by their opening hand alone as there isn’t much time to ‘fix’ their hand.

Plato 3000 scales well with 2 and 3 players, but I’m hesitant to recommend it as a 4-player game. The games I experienced with 4 players ended prematurely as the deck ran out of cards before players could go out. The nifty trading rule, which is included in 4-player games, was rarely used since the game ended before it became efficient to trade. However, it is stated in the rules sheet that you ideally need to combine 2 decks for 4 player games, so I’m going to give the benefit of doubt that a 4 player game with 2 decks would work a lot better.

Lastly, something minor which bugs me is the variety of available Theories. For example, the Utopia and Dystopia Theories do exactly the same thing. Maybe there’s a satirical point that I’m missing out on, like how both worlds share more similarities than differences, but I think that it was a missed opportunity to add a little tactical diversity.


Conclusion

The concept of giving abilities to melds in Plato 3000 is clever – its execution works well to accelerate gameplay, and adds a pseudo engine-building aspect to rummy. However, when it comes to depth, complexity and player interaction, Plato 3000 is no rival to the Mystery Rummy series. It still can serve a niche role in game collections, making a good filler when you want to play a rummy game but are tight on time; or as a gateway game to the more complex Mystery Rummy series.
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Jonathan C
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Great review!
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Sheamus Parkes
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Thanks for taking the time to write the review. I'm glad you've enjoyed a few rounds of my game.

I personally think that Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper is the best of the Mystery Rummy games by far. If you at all enjoy rummy games, you need to pick it up and play it a few times. (Just like Plato 3000, I would recommend to play mostly 2 player games of Jack the Ripper.)
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Robert Seater
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shadow_bind wrote:
For example, the Utopia and Dystopia Theories do exactly the same thing. Maybe there’s a satirical point that I’m missing out on, like how both worlds share more similarities than differences.

Yes; that's suppose to be a joke about how the future turned out. robot
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Darryl T.
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Isamoor wrote:
I personally think that Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper is the best of the Mystery Rummy games by far. If you at all enjoy rummy games, you need to pick it up and play it a few times. (Just like Plato 3000, I would recommend to play mostly 2 player games of Jack the Ripper.)
Both Jack the Ripper and Wyatt Earp are huge hits among my non-gamer friends. I don't think I've tried JtR with 2 players, but I found the game with 3 and 4 players enjoyable. Plato 3000 elicited the same 'let's play just one more game' response, so I think that's a good sign.


rseater wrote:
Yes; that's suppose to be a joke about how the future turned out.
Ah, so I guessed correctly after all After a game, my friend pointed out how it would make more sense that Dystopia rewarded players for having fewer Jobs in play. Something like 'During scoring, Dystopia is worth 12 points minus 2 points for each distinct job in your society'. I think it would set up an interesting opposing objective for players to aim for.
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Sequella Deville
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So how can I get a hold of this. It looks very much in line with what the family enjoys (We love Wyatt Earp and Jack the Ripper).

None of the OLGS I've looked at have it, but I don't know too many. FLGS have never heard of it either.

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Darryl T.
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sequella wrote:
So how can I get a hold of this. It looks very much in line with what the family enjoys (We love Wyatt Earp and Jack the Ripper).

None of the OLGS I've looked at have it, but I don't know too many. FLGS have never heard of it either.


I got this free with my Kickstarted Glory to Rome BBE, but otherwise I'm not sure how soon it will reach stores. The threads around here state that it should be in soon though, so I guess you'll have to be patient.
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Sheamus Parkes
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shadow_bind wrote:
sequella wrote:
So how can I get a hold of this. It looks very much in line with what the family enjoys (We love Wyatt Earp and Jack the Ripper).

None of the OLGS I've looked at have it, but I don't know too many. FLGS have never heard of it either.


I got this free with my Kickstarted Glory to Rome BBE, but otherwise I'm not sure how soon it will reach stores. The threads around here state that it should be in soon though, so I guess you'll have to be patient.


Basically, yea. It'll be there soon; likely in stores within a few months. No I don't have a date, nobody does. If you're in the US, it's likely in a domestic harbor with GtR.
 
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Thanks. I'll put it in the 'future' games list. Maybe a Christmas thing.
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Tim Royal
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No need. Got it at my FLGS yesterday... great game, recommended for anyone who enjoys Mystery Rummy series.
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Darryl T.
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2097 wrote:
How would you compare it to Parade? Parade is my favorite 2-player card game.

Hmm, my memory of Parade is fuzzy as I've only ever played Parade once a long time ago, but the two games are pretty different. Parade has more depth (since you have to think about which card you want to add to the parade and avoid picking up cards if possible) but I also found it a bit dry (the deck is just a bunch of numbers, and constant counting is needed). Plato, on the other hand, has more straightforward decisions and less room for AP. It's also less dry as each player gets unique abilities as the game goes on, and that tends to keep players engaged in the game. Also, rounds in Plato are very short - each round lasts about 5 minutes tops. If you play by the official rules (game ends when a player reaches 100 points), the game takes about half an hour. However, the game can easily be shortened by agreeing to lower the winning score beforehand.

I hope that helps!
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Darryl T.
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2097 wrote:
Since cards from the discard piles can go into player’s hands, it has more hidden-but-trackable–information than Parade (a drawback of P3K for me, but I know tastes differ there) and it also has a lot of counting (to time when you should go out, just like in Parade).
While I agree that Plato 3000 has hidden-but-trackable information, for me it doesn't really play a very important role. Since the game ends very quickly, I wouldn't attempt hoarding cards picked up in hope of striking a lucky combo. So chances are that if I pick a card from the discard pile, I'm going to play it immediately. I may be wrong on this, but try ignoring the cards your opponent picks up and you may find it doesn't make much of a difference. Glad to hear you enjoy the game though!
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Wakefield Morys-Carter
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I mostly watch for players picking up single soldiers from he discard piles...I might be less keen to start a soldier job if they have.
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ketchupgun
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the niche this fills: the 45 min my wife and i have to relax after the kids go to sleep....as stated in the rulebook LOL.

I actually LOVE the artwork, and i was one of GTR's biggesr art haters.

I wish the revised GTR blackbox looked like this.
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