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Game Review: Holiday Shuffle Card Game
This is a simple filler game, good for kids and casual gamers.
The game consists of a deck of cards and 4 plastic play mats (one for each player)
1) The cards are normal playing card sized and the usual plastic coated playing card quality. Each card shows a day of the year, a holiday falling on that day, and a colourful illustration depicting the holiday in question. The cards are eye catching, brightly coloured and cartoonish and are probably the biggest selling point of this game.
2) The play mats are made of the soft plastic material that is used to make cheap table cloths. Although reasonably colourful from a distance, on closer examination, the pattern appears like it was printed on the mats and looks like it might show some wear with repeated playing.
When the game starts, each player is dealt a series of 10 cards face up which is laid in the order dealt onto his play mat. The objective is to be the first to arrange your 10 cards into a chronologically ascending series e.g. 1 Jan, 27 Jan, 14 Feb, 1 Apr, 1 May, etc. The first player to do this triggers scoring.
Starting from the leftmost card to the right, one point is scored for each subsequent card which is in ascending chronological order. If a card is not in ascending chronological order, that card and all the cards to its right do not score any points.
In addition, bonus points are scored if at least three cards are from the same month (e.g. 1 Apr, 5 Apr, 17 Apr), or in running order (Mar, Apr, May, Jun) with the bonus points scored being equal to the number of cards in such a sequence (3 and 4 bonus points respective for the abovementioned examples).
On his turn, each player must take a card, either from the top of the discard pile, or from the draw deck. He then substitutes one of the cards on his play mat with the chosen card and discards it. If he chose to draw a card from the draw pile, he may also choose to discard that card without substitution.
Some cards are wild cards, and may be considered the day and month of that player’s choice.
Certain cards have special powers that trigger when the card is placed on the play mat, such as “skip the next player’s turn”, “take an extra turn immediately”, “take any card from the discard pile”, or the game breaking “swap a card from any player’s play mat to any player’s play mat”.
1) This is a light filler of the beer and pretzels variety for kids and casual gamers. The novelty of the various holidays and the interesting illustrations may sustain several plays at best before even they lose interest.
2) Luck factors heavily in the gameplay as the initial draw is quite random. Wild cards and the cards with the various powers also add to the luck of the draw during the game.
3) There is very little in the way of strategy in this game and although there are some interesting tactical considerations, these are somewhat limited to the cards with powers, if they become available, and not playing cards which are too useful to the next player. Other than this, the game is somewhat like multi-player solitaire because midway through the game, when it becomes clear which cards you are lacking, you can count on the player before you not playing any cards that would be useful to you and you are stuck with drawing again and again.
4) The cards with the powers can be quite powerful and I found one card in particular almost game breaking- the “swap a card from any player’s play mat to any player’s play mat”. Almost inevitably, you will swap a card from your own mat and in the second half of the game, where you are one or two cards away from completing your set, this card alone will probably win you the game. At the very least, you will swap if for another special card with special powers, giving you the use of the power.
Play this filler during holidays only.
My guess is that the April 1st card ("Switch any 1 of one player's cards with any 1 of another player's") is intended to be used on players other than the one using the card.
As you note, allowing a player to use it on his own sequence is very powerful. Other cards that allow a player to play it on himself (including the one that allows trading but only if the other player agrees) specifically mention that they can be used by the player whose turn it is on his own cards.
The way it is worded will not convince rules lawyers intent on playing it as a super powerful card, but the context and effect indicates the narrower usage.