The Game Quick and Easy
- Designer: Steffen Benndorf
- Publisher: NSV
- Players: 2-5
- Age: 8+
- Time: 10 minutes
- Times played: 3, with review copy provided by NSV
The Game is one of those games that I never really understood the fascination about. But repeated plays with people that were gaga about it slightly won me over. The concept is simple (almost so simple that I am surprised that no one came up with it before this…). Per the description on BGG:
Players in The Game try to discard all 98 cards in the deck onto four discard piles in order to win, but they need to do so in the right ways. Each player starts with 6-8 cards in their hand depending on the number of players, and four discard pile prompt cards are on the table: two showing “1” and an up arrow and two showing “100” and a down arrow. On a turn, a player must discard at least two cards from their hand onto one or more discard piles, with cards on the 1 piles being placed in ascending order and cards on the 100 piles being placed in descending order. One tricky aspect of the game is that you can play a card exactly 10 higher/lower than the top card of a discard pile even when you would normally have to play in a descending/ascending order, e.g., if a 100 discard pile is topped with an 87, you can play any card lower than 87 or you can play the 97. After a player finishes their turn, they refill their hand from the deck. During play, players cannot reveal exact numbers in their hands, but they can warn others not to play on certain discard piles or otherwise make play suggestions. Once the deck is emptied, players are required only to play at least one card on a turn. If you play all 98 cards, you win!
While I was not sold on it initially, it was nominated for the 2015 Spiel des Jahres (losing out to Colt Express), so it is clear that I am in the minority in not falling in love with it.
This year, there is a new version – one that is… quick and easy. See what I did there? In this new version. There are two sequencing cards, one which goes 1 à 10 and one which goes 10 à 1. The deck is made up of 50 cards, ranging from 1 to 10 in each color. Players start the game with a hand of 2 cards, and on a turn, the active player plays one or two cards from their hand.
There is one stack next to each of the sequencing cards, and as you might guess, one stack requires you to play continually ascending cards and the other requires continually descending cards. The one exception is that if you play a card which matches the color of the top of the stack, you can ignore the numbering rules. In this way, you can reset the ascending stack with a fairly low value card to allow it to climb higher yet again.
While the game is being played… Well, I guess I should say, While the Game Quick and Easy is being played, the players can discuss their potential plays. However, they cannot say exactly what is in their hand. They are allowed to say things such as “I’ve got a pretty high yellow and a medium blue card in my hand” but they could not say “my red card is two higher than the card on top” nor could they say “I have the yellow 9 and blue 4”. If you didn’t like the limited communication rule of The Game, it’s the same wishy-washy business here.
The game ends as a loss for all players if a player takes a turn and they cannot legally play a card onto either stack. The game is won by all players if all 50 cards are able to be played to either of the stacks.
Overall, The Game Quick and Easy is a bit more forgiving; the deck is smaller, and there are many more opportunities to reset a stack to get the team back on track. Is it too easy? Possibly; my win rate is right at 50% right now, which is about 49.2% more than my win rate at The Game – but it’s turned out to be a nice filler, and a good family game. Being able to match color to break the placement rule is much easier for novices to remember than the 10-away rule; and as a result, the game is much more accessible.
- Designer: Reinhard Staupe
- Publisher: NSV
- Players: 2-6
- Age: 5+
- Time: 15 minutes
With Robots and Contact, NSV is trying to corner the market on silent-travel-in-your-head games. In some ways, Robots gives me the game that I want, namely one that allows the team to discuss the possible results of the journey-in-the-mind; but in the end, it still doesn’t give me a game that I want.
In the game, there is a deck of 12 cards; each of them has a single linear path with a random arrangement of twelve different objects along that path. One player acts as the Robot – and the rest of the players work together to guess the Robot’s destination.
How does it work? On the back of another card, the Robot player will see what his target item is AND the speed at which the Robot will travel to get there (slow, medium or fast). There are three choices on the back of said card, and the number in the corner of the current path card will tell the Robot which choice to use.
Once the Robot has figured out where he is going and how fast, he says “Beep”. Then, he travels along the path mentally until he has reached the desired object at the designated speed. Then he says “Beep” again to tell everyone that he isn’t mentally moving anymore. [From the rules: “What does slow, normal or fast actually mean? Well, each player has to choose the speed themselves and the other players have to adapt to it. The longer and more often you play, the better you adapt to the other player’s spped. That’s exactly what it’s all about!”]
The other players now discuss where the Robot has stopped. Once a consensus is achieved, a guess is made. If the correct location is guessed, the team scores 3 points. If they are one away, 2 points; and if they are two spaces away, 1 point. Then the next card is flipped over and the next player becomes the robot. This continues through all twelve cards.
At the end of the eleventh card, the scores are tallied. A maximal score is 33 but a score of 20 is felt to be good, 25 great, and 30 “virtually out of this world!”.
I really wanted to like this one, but it really ended up being a guess-fest for me. I mean, after all, how am I to know if a short trip was just the second stop at slow speed versus the eighth stop on fast speed? We can discuss all we want, but the only clues we get are the time duration between the two beeps. The Robot is not supposed to give us anything else. It does have the advantage of being super simple, and this is clearly a game you can play with elementary school aged kids. And, in the group, I think they might enjoy the game. For my adult game group, this one is a hard pass – but I think we’re not meant to be the target audience. I’m going to pass this on to my niece or my nephews and see how they enjoy it instead.
Addendum – so after the initial publication of this review, it came to my attention that the rulebook has been updated! (or perhaps re-translated)…
The new version is for download here: https://nsv.de/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Roboter_GB.pdf
It’s the last sentence on page 2
The big change is that the Robot player is SUPPOSED to tell you what speed he is moving at. This is a huge change to the game as now it is not just a guessing game, but now one of experience – like in Contact, the key here will be playing the game enough with people to know what mental speed they use, and that will help you make a more educated decision on where they may have stopped.
Knowing these new rules, i’ll have to take another try at the game once the era of social distancing is over and I can be around a table with other gamers again!
Until your next appointment,
The Gaming Doctor