Hello, my first review. Let's get under way.
So this is another game by the great Knizia. I've only been playing actual games (i.e. not monopoly) for about 5 months now, and one the first things I have learned is to buy pretty much anything designed by Knizia. So when I found out that this is a Knizia game, that it cost about $10, and I can get it at any Wal-mart, I was on a mission to acquire this game. I have enjoyed Knizia game in the past, and I can say that this game is no different.
With this game, you get a completely superfluous(sp?) gameboard, a pack of cards, a die, rules, and a bunch of poker chips. If you know someone who owns the game, and you have the bits, you could play it without buying the game. But if you want to support good games getting money, then go ahead and buy without feeling ashamed. But as an aside, it's best if the pack of cards you use are small in size because the row of cards do get a bit long.
The game is played as such. I will give you the non-betting version, because A) it's quicker to explain and B)I haven't played it yet. There are three different rounds. In the first round you have 3 rows, the second 4, the third 5. Before play begins, a card is layed in the middle of the table corresponding to the amount of rows in the round. So three cards in the first round and so on. These three cards are used by both players in deciding their hand. So, this card will be used by you in making a five-card hand and by your opponent in making their five-card hand. A marker is placed on each of these cards A) to make it easier to tell which are the communal cards, and B) to be given to the person who has a better hand using that card. When you play, you play only on your side of the field. So to drive home the point, each person decides who had the better hand by looking at the communal card and the 4 cards on their side of the board. Whoever has the better hand, wins the chip. The one with the most chips at the end of the game wins.
Shuffle up the cards for the draw pile. Then roll the die. This roll determines how the game is played for that round. The die is rolled again at the beginning of the next round.
1-draw one from the draw pile and play
2-draw two from the draw pile, play one, give other to opponent who playes it
3-3 card hand in which you play and then replenish hand from draw pile
4-4 card hand in which you play one at a time until expired, then deal out another
5-5 face up cards, used by both players, which are played until expired, then deal out another
When a 6 is rolled, you are then allowed to play on your opponents side of the table. The die is rolled again until something other then a six to determine how play continues.
How is the game? I really like it. The game is about 20-30 minutes long, but play is very fast and tense. This game is also very light and very easy to teach. Strategy is simple, but deep. Since you always see the cards that the other person is laying down, you see how strong that persons hand is. You must therefore change your tactics to try and win that hand. This game really reminds me of Coloretto in a lot of ways. Not so much in a strict mechanical sort of way, but in the feel of the game. You must always weigh against helping yourself or hurting your opponent. Do I use this card to help myself, or that card just so they can't use it? And many times you just have to put a card where you don't want to, just because you are out of options.
By no means is this game perfect. I would love for someone to come up with a way to decide draws (6 markers to 6 markers). And just most other card games, luck plays a factor in winning. I don't feel it is very much of a hinderence, but I'm someone who really doesn't mind.
There are betting rules, but I have not played them so I cannot comment.
In conclusion, this is a very enjoyable game. It is light, fun, easy to teach. Yet it is full of enough hard decisions to keep you playing.