A to Z Gaming: The Game

We attempted to play a deck of cards on ascending and descending piles in The Game, the next game in our A to Z game-shelf play-through.

Basic Info: The Game
Players: 1-5
Time: 20 Minutes
Designer: Steffen Benndorf
Artist: Kwanchai Moriya
Publisher: Pandasaurus Games

The Game is a cooperative game where players are trying to discard their cards onto four different piles – two piles that can only have numbers that are descending, starting at 100, and two piles that can only have ascending numbers, starting with 1. The catch is that players are not allowed to tell each other what is in their hands – at least, not the exact number of any card in their hand.

The game set-up is simple – there are two “1”s and two “100”s placed on the table – these represent the beginning of each pile that players will play to. Then the deck of cards (numbered 2-99) are shuffled and an hand of 6 cards dealt to each player (7 cards for a 2-player game, 8 cards for a solo game).

On their turn, players must play at least 2 cards from their hand onto the piles in the middle of the table. The only rule for playing these cards is that on the piles that started with 1, the next card must be higher than the previously played card, and on the piles that started with 100, the next card must be lower than the previous played card. Then the player draws back up to their hand limit. Once there are no cards in the draw pile, players only have to play one card from their hand each turn, but they can still always play more.

There’s one exception to the ascending and descending rule — the “10” trick. You can play a lower card on the ascending piles if it is exactly 10 less than the current card on the pile. You can play a higher card on the descending pile if it is exactly 10 more than the current card on the pile.

The goal is to play all cards in the deck to one of the four piles. If players succeed, they win!

We picked up this game when Target released an edition with new, gorgeous art.

The game plays fairly fast, and I’ve played it several times as a 2-player and solo game. I haven’t yet had a chance to try it at higher player counts – and I’m curious to see how that changes the game.

I like the decisions of which cards to play, and figuring out how best to capitalize on the “10 trick” when I’ve got the right cards for it in my hand. There isn’t a lot of strategizing beyond that, but for a quick game, I think that’s all you need.

How is it as a 2-player game?  The Game works really well as a 2-player game.  I like it a bit more than a solo game, because there are more cards in player’s hands at any time, so there seem to be more opportunities to pull back a pile or two. I suspect that with higher player counts there might also be more frustration as other players surpass the numbers in your own hand, but I look forward to trying it with more players.

How about the art and component quality? It’s really just a deck of cards, which are good size and quality. I quite like the art in this edition – each decade of the cards has a different style, and they’re fun to look at.

Will this stay in my collection?  Yes – I’m looking forward to getting it to the table again, and especially trying it out with more players.

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