Recommend
5 
 Thumb up
 Hide
12 Posts

Gang of Four» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Can't get enough of it. rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Robert .
United States
Royal Oak
Michigan
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
Gang of Four

The Components (Bits):

Typical of all Days of Wonder games, this game has great production qualities. Nice cards with a great finish and excellent durability, clean and interesting colours, as well as themed oriental writing on the cards. The box is oversized and comes with a score pad and pencil. As usual, a web-card good for six months of online play is included with the game.

The Setup and Rules:
Once again, typical of DOW productions, the rules are superbly written, and oversized to box dimensions. Setup is a breeze as all cards are shuffled and dealt to all players until exhausted. For 3 players one phantom hand is dealt and discarded into the box for that round.

The Theme:
Admittedly, the theme is loose with this game, and is nothing more than “Oriental” overtones pasted on to the cards. I don’t think this game would benefit to any great extent by adding a theme. As a measure of fairness, I tend to rate this category low on games with lousy or pasted on themes that don’t work and tend to be easier on games that don’t have any theme whatsoever. Call it my “Grading Curve” if you will. In this case, I have to grade it on a curve, as it does give a nice oriental flavour to the game.

The Gameplay:
The objective of the game is to be the first player to purge their hand of all of their cards. The end goal is to score the fewest points before someone reaches 100 in total score. Think of GOF as a form of a trick taking game with additional tactics and the tricks aren’t added to your hand. The leader of the round is the player that has the multicoloured “one” card in their hand, and he leads by playing a single card, two of a kind, three of a kind, or any of the more traditional poker style hands. (Flush, straight, etc) The next person can either pass if they can’t beat it, or play one of the higher ranked hands, or play a wild combination of Gang of Four, Five, Six or Seven cards (meaning X number of cards all in the same number). This continues around the table until everyone passes and the winner of that trick discards all cards, and has the lead for the next round of tricks. There are other twists to this, such as cards are ranked not only by number, but by colour. For example Green is the lowest, followed by yellow, then red, so in the case of a pair of green “Ones”, a pair of yellow “Ones” would be higher. In addition there are special Phoenix and Dragon cards. The dragon can only be played as a single card, while the Phoenix cards can be played as a pair, or part of a full house. The dragon is the highest value single card in the game. When a hand is depleted a new set of cards is dealt out, and the loser of the last round gives the winner his highest card, and the winner gives the loser any card he chooses. Direction is reversed for the next hand, and is an important balancing aspect.

The Depth and Tactics:
There doesn’t sound like much to this game, but when you play it a few times you realise how amazingly tactical it is. The decisions presented to you are quite numerous and require some fast thinking to come out ahead. Do you play a top card to take control early on, or dump your average junk early on, and wait for a later moment to take control of the table? Gang of Four has tough decisions with little time to consider your options.. Luck isn’t as high of a factor in this game as you might think, I continuously see people with a seemingly poor hand pull out fast victories with clever play. The key here is timing your dumping of cards without burning yourself from making a big run later in the game. It is quite possible to dump your cards in fast succession, and with clever play leaving your opponents in the dust . I never tire of watching really high quality players prove time and time again how strategic this game is. I don’t profess to be an expect player yet, but I can generally be the first out in at least a few hands of a game. If I slack for even a moment, I lose my edge, and my chance has passed. One thing I’ve noticed about GOF is that early on scores tend to rise quickly and games finish fairly fast. Once people have a basic grasp of the game, scores tend to even out and games can drag. Later though, this balances out as expert players emerge, and can quickly close off players leaving giant scores quite early into a session. Basically it all balances in the end.

Summary:
Gang of Four is perhaps my favourite card game at this point. I think about playing it constantly, and think about playing it when I’m playing “Lesser” games. I play it online as much as possible and enjoy every minute of it. I love the tension, tactics, and interaction that the game offers. I consider Gang of Four to be a legacy game, one which we might be playing for decades. I’ve heard some people describe this as “Tichu-Lite”, and I disagree with this assessment. I feel this game is elegant, and streamlined, while Tichu is clumsy and needlessly complex. I must confess, I hate partnership games, so I’m a bit biased about my assessment of Tichu, but I just feel that Gang of Four is more elegant as game, and more accessible. Do yourself a favour, pick up Gang of Four, and see what you’ve been missing.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Karate Chop!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I have to admit, I'm a huuuuuge Tichu fan, and had played Tichu quite a bit before playing Gang of Four. I can see where people are coming from when they say Gang of Four feels like "Tichu Lite" -- that was much my initial response, as well... it felt a bit watered down from all the depth and decision making (especially the card passing aspect) I had experienced in Tichu.

That said, I can't help but wonder what my impression would have been if I had played Gang of Four first... Would Tichu have intimidated me instead, or would I have thought that Tichu was just "Gang of Four Complicated"...

In our games of Gang of Four, we found it very, very difficult to knock the leader off his throne, since he gets the benefit of better cards from the other players (if I recall)... or am I mis-remembering that part of the game?

Regardless, I love these types of games were you have to "finesse" your hand -- sometimes you've been dealt crap and can go out first, other times you've got a ton of great cards but get beat to the punch by someone else.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Robert .
United States
Royal Oak
Michigan
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
ynnen wrote:
That said, I can't help but wonder what my impression would have been if I had played Gang of Four first... Would Tichu have intimidated me instead, or would I have thought that Tichu was just "Gang of Four Complicated"...


Interesting thought, and quite possibly accurate.

ynnen wrote:
In our games of Gang of Four, we found it very, very difficult to knock the leader off his throne, since he gets the benefit of better cards from the other players (if I recall)... or am I mis-remembering that part of the game?


I haven't seen this yet, mostly because the leader only gets 1 good card from the loser, not enough in my experiance to sway the next hand in a dramatic way.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Karate Chop!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I think it may have just been a quirk of circumstance. In our four player game, I constantly had to give my best card to the player on my left -- meaning that whenever he played (with his already better hand) it had to pass by 2 other players (and only get stronger) before I'd get a chance to play on it.

I'd assume part of the strategy is learning how to play "keepaway" from the player with the supposedly "worse" hand. You might throw him a series of low cards, but that could easily turn into a low pair or threesome -- easy to discard and then hard to decide if it's worth throwing a high pair on top of it at the risk of losing flexibility later.

Tichu is definitely too complex for my light card gaming family and in-laws... But Gang of Four might be just right. Whether or not it's fair to claim it's "Tichu Lite" is irrelevant -- if it's the game I can get my family to play that most closely resembles my beloved Tichu (or possibly primes them to want to eventually play that game), then it's all good...
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Travis Easton
United States
Casey
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Kobra1 wrote:

In addition there are special Phoenix and Dragon cards which can only be played as single cards,


Actually the two Phoenix Cards can be played as the highest ranking pair of cards in the game, or they can be played as a pair in a full house.

Not sure if you didn't realize this rule, or you just forgot to write it in there.


Nice review though, Kobra. As usual, you and I like most of the same games.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Travis Easton
United States
Casey
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
ynnen wrote:
I think it may have just been a quirk of circumstance. In our four player game, I constantly had to give my best card to the player on my left -- meaning that whenever he played (with his already better hand) it had to pass by 2 other players (and only get stronger) before I'd get a chance to play on it.


The direction of playing changes back and forth each hand, once clockwise, once counterclockwise, so every other hand you would play right after that person on your left.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Robert .
United States
Royal Oak
Michigan
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
Mutombo wrote:
The direction of playing changes back and forth each hand, once clockwise, once counterclockwise, so every other hand you would play right after that person on your left.


This serves as a balance mechanism, and is very important. It would eliminate the issue that Jason points out, but often adds confusion to games. (necessary confusion I feel)

Quote:
Actually the two Phoenix Cards can be played as the highest ranking pair of cards in the game, or they can be played as a pair in a full house. Not sure if you didn't realize this rule, or you just forgot to write it in there.


We play as you indicate, but managed to forget it at 2am when I wrote the review, thanks for pointing the oversight out I changed the review to reflect this.

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Robert .
United States
Royal Oak
Michigan
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
generalpf wrote:
Kobra1 wrote:
As usual, a web-card good for a year of online play is included with the game.

I've bought four DoW games (albeit, not this one) and their web cards were only good for six months. Is this one different? Are you sure it didn't just stack with six months you already had?


Doh, it did.. I had a TTR one in the queue and I see what you mean now. Thx.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Fraser
Australia
Melbourne
flag msg tools
admin
designer
Back in the days when there were less maps we played every map back to back
badge
Ooh a little higher, now a bit to the left, a little more, a little more, just a bit more. Oooh yes, that's the spot!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
It is worth pointing out one subtle difference between the Days of Wonder edition with the two Phoenixes and The Game Dealers' edition with the two Vice Chairman cards.

The Phoenix cards are different colours thus one them is higher than the other, however the Vice Chairman cards are identical which makes a suprising tactical difference when playing singles.

We play The Game Dealers edition not due to this reason but because, in Australia, it is less than a quarter of the price of the Days of Wonder edition and when you play it every lunchtime the cards tend to wear out and four decks for the price of one is a deal not to be ignored.

Edit - Correct the name to Game Dealers
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jim Bacon
United States
Farmington
New Mexico
flag msg tools
Gamer Dealer? I Googled this with no luck. Looks like an affordable alternative - if I could find it. Is it just local to Australia?

Thanks!
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Fraser
Australia
Melbourne
flag msg tools
admin
designer
Back in the days when there were less maps we played every map back to back
badge
Ooh a little higher, now a bit to the left, a little more, a little more, just a bit more. Oooh yes, that's the spot!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Corrected it to remove the 'r' from Gamer. I can't find them on Google either. They are not Australian made though.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.