The Game

Designer: Steffen Bendorff

Artist: Oliver Freudenreich, Sandra Freudenreich, Jason D. Kingsley, Kwanchai Moriya

Publisher: Pandasaurus Games

Whatever it is, and I don’t even know what it is, this cover is way better than the first version (Photo credits: Eric Martin@BGG)

Alright, let’s get this off my chest first: I am glad that Pandasaurus reprinted the game. Really. If only they considered changing the title as well. I am generally not a stickler for these things, but from a practical stand point, why are you trying to make people mad with The Game? The title makes it so hard to search for the game online or on Board Game Geek. This cannot be good from a commercial view point either. It was previously infuriating to find The Game through search engines. Recently, it’s been better. I don’t know what changed. But, why stick with this title that is so devoid of, well…. anything. Also, what’s with the morbid theme from the first edition? The Pandasaurus edition at least has something colorful which is a good improvement. For a numbers games, you could have just went with a theme of Indian snacks, Polish kielbasa, lug nuts, peanuts, coconuts…. anything.

OK, done with my rant. I am sure you have already heard an earful from other reviewers or bloggers. Well, all said and done, The Game is a pretty decent co-op game for the family, even those with younger kids.

In The Game, players each have a hand of 6-8 cards with values ranging from 2 to 99. Each time cards are played, players will replenish their hand with the goal of depleting the entire draw deck. In order to win the game, every card must be played. No leftovers. From the start, there are four rows in which cards can be played to. Players must play at least 2 cards to any row of their choice. In two of these rows, cards are played in ascending order from 1 to 99 while the remaining two rows, cards are played in descending order from 99 to 1. Obviously, players do not have to play the cards in sequential order and gaps in between are permitted. For example in the ascending row, players can play a 98 followed by a 95. Of course, the larger the gap, the less optimal it is for all players since you want to make sure the gaps in between numbers are as small as possible to ensure all the cards from the draw pile can be played.

There is one twist to the game: players can backtrack and play a card that breaks the ascending or descending requirement if the card played has a 10 point differential. For example in the ascending column, instead of playing 60 right after a 59, players can play a 49 to move backwards. You can even chain the effects by playing a 39 and a 29 right after to turn back the clock so to speak. In this way, you can “backtrack” the row of cards and open up additional placement possibilities for all players. This rule is critical for the game because it opens up different avenues for placement and makes it more exciting. I have seen some marvelous chaining effects to lengthen the game and in the process converting a loss to a win.

The Game forbids direct communication between players regarding the type of cards at hand. However, one can indicate if they like to place cards in specific rows. If this sounds a little like The Mind, well, it kinda has a similar feel to a certain extent. Both are co-op games with cards ranging from 1-100 (or 2-99). Both games require some form of hidden communication but unlike The Mind, the information in The Game is up front and center. I feel it is probably less challenging than The Mind, although it is a different type of challenge. The Mind is great with 2, but I feel The Game is better with 3. It feels more dynamic with 3 players, which makes the game more family-friendly in a way.

I have to admit that playing The Game with 2 for the very first time really didn’t do too much for us. It wasn’t until recently that we brought it out for 3 players. Now when played with my kid, the game feels a lot more fun and interactive. So, I have rated the game differently now in light of the additional player. I think The Game is a pleasant family activity and is fun experience to go through together. It is also a little more forgiving than The Mind.

Initial impression: Good

Kids Corner

6 years 7 months: I thought the hardest part of the game was for my child to decide how many cards to play and in which row. That is only partially accurate. The harder part for her is to remember to play cards to backtrack the ascending or descending row. For some odd reason, all the players, adults and kids alike seem to have a tough time remembering if rows are ascending and descending. I admit, it can be confusing. It requires that extra split second attention to remind yourself that this row is going up while this one is going down. I guess my kid must not be able to concentrate well enough to remember and so, she has a hard time with the backtracking card play. That said, I think she is generally excited to play a co-op game with her parents since it’s all for one and one for all. The same is true for Geister Geister. I think she enjoys not always having to be competitive.

As a family activity, The Game is challenging enough that as a family, we have a great time doing it. It is also not that hard that we fall over in frustration. I guess we have won a couple of times, but lost many more…. which is ok. Unlike what others may claim, it does get tiring to win all the time. It makes a co-op rather meaningless.

** Note, these are home made copies of the game using cards from The Mind. They are not cards from the brand new edition.

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