Card Games

Saboteur: The Game of Mining, Sabotage, and Gold

Saboteur | Board Game | Rules of Play

Card Game Review: Saboteur

Rating: 8.8 out of 10 stars

Intro

What I hope to accomplish with my card game reviews is to introduce you to a new game and help you determine whether the game is a good fit for you. I will consider and rank five criteria: gameplay, design, strategy, originality, and replayability.

Description

Saboteur is a fantasy bluffing game that uses hand management and hidden roles. It also has a notable take-that mechanic. Players play as dwarves mining for gold–except at least one of them is a hidden traitor!

It’s a game for 3-10 players that is supposed to take 30 minutes. (In my experience it takes at least 45 minutes.) It is meant for ages 8+, but I could see it being difficult for an eight-year-old the first couple of times. I think it would work best for ages 10+.

Gameplay (8 out of 10 stars)

A Saboteur and Gold Miner

Basically, in this game you play either as a gold miner or a saboteur. The objective for the gold miners is to place find the gold, while the role of the saboteur is to prevent the gold miners from reaching the gold.

The way you do that is by using path cards, shown above. Most path cards can be used to get closer to the goal, but there are some dead end path cards that saboteurs use. The three brown cards at the top of the picture have either coal or gold under them.

Throughout the game, players can check what’s under one of the brown cards by using a map card. A map card is an example of an action card. Action cards can be identified by their white border.

Anyone is free to tell the truth or lie when using a map card, so it is generally good to have a second person verify the location of the gold or coal if possible.

There are also attack cards among the action cards. Saboteurs can use them to sabotage miners, and miners can use them to sabotage saboteurs. When a player is attacked with one of these cards–breaking their lantern, pickaxe, or cart–they cannot play any path cards.

Broken supplies can be repaired using the cards shown below, matching the type of equipment. After the equipment is repaired, the player can use path cards again.

There are is also a type of card that removes a path tile from the board–a tunnel collapse card. This can be helpful for the saboteur or the miners.

There are three rounds in the game and there are two ways to end each round. One way is for one of the players to find the gold. In that case, the miners win, and the player who put down the last path card gets first pickings of the spoils.

The other way is for the saboteur(s) to win the round by making it impossible for the miners to reach the gold. Once cards run out in the decks, they are not reshuffled, meaning the miners have a limited amount of time to reach the gold before they run out of useful path cards.

If the saboteur(s) win the round, they receive 3 gold each. This is because it is harder to win as the saboteur.

After 3 rounds, the player with the most gold wins.

(As always, for a full rules explanation, read the actual rulebook because I just provided an overview.)

Design (9 out of 10 stars)

Close-up of details on cards

Design includes two categories: art and components.

The art was created by Andrea Boeckhoff and is generally pretty simplistic. However, as shown above, the artist included details in some of the path cards that are playful and creative.

This is a card game that fits in a tiny box, so don’t expect anything fancy. The components include path cards, action cards, gold nugget cards, gold miner cards, and saboteur cards.

The rules are included on a single page and yet sufficient.

The advantage of the components in this game is that they fit in a really small box that is shorter and more compact even then most books.

Strategy (10 out of 10 stars)

Strategy is cooperative for most players and consists mostly of teamwork and knowing what cards are best to use when. The game requires a lot of attention on the part of the gold miners to be able to realize who the saboteurs are and stop them.

Also, since the last person to place a card before the gold is revealed gets first pickings of the loot, there is a tiny bit of competition and cooperation is still very self-focused.

There is more strategy for the saboteur(s). For one thing, they want to find out who the other saboteur (or saboteurs) are without blowing their cover. Saboteurs also have to decide whether to act decisively at any point in a way that reveals their wicked intentions, but it is more effective.

Originality (9 out of 10 stars)

The originality is high in this game. Using cards like tiles to reach a goal is interesting, as well as the bluffing aspect allowing you to get away with being the saboteur for as long as possible.

Unlike in some games, you don’t lose if someone finds out the saboteur–you just get to keep on playing.

Replayability (8 out of 10 stars)

Replayability is decent. You go through the same pack of cards every time, but who is the saboteur and the number of saboteurs is pretty random and makes playing it multiple times still enjoyable.

Conclusion

I would certainly recommend this game. It is low complexity and functions perfectly as a gateway game for those just starting out in the board game hobby. Yet it is challenging enough to engage more serious board gamers as well.

Card Games

Card Game Review: Coup

Coup Cover Artwork

Rank: 6.2 out of 10

Intro

The card game Coup was first introduced to me by my cousin Elyse while my family and I were on vacation in New Hampshire. I thought I would not like it because I am not skilled at bluffing. However, since first playing it, Coup has been one of my favorite card games.

Coup is #5 on my list of top five favorite card games.

This is my first full card game review. What I hope to accomplish with these reviews is to introduce you to a new game and help you to determine whether the game is a good fit for you. I will consider and rank five criteria: gameplay, design, strategy, originality, and replayability.

Description

Coup is a bluffing and risk-taking game. Your objective is to manipulate others and take control of the court.

There are 5 different types of cards, each of which have a different ability. These cards include an Assassin, a Captain, a Contessa, an Ambassador, and a Duke. Each player has two cards at the start of the game. These cards represent influence you have over the court.

You can use the abilities on the cards in your hand, or pretend to have a card with a different ability. Other players may challenge you if you are bluffing. If they are right and you are bluffing, you lose influence (in other words, lose a card.) If the other player is wrong, however, he or she is the one who will lose influence.

When you use a card to complete an action or block an action, you should not reveal it. No one should ever know what cards you have.

Once you gain 7 coins, you can launch an unblockable coup, forcing another player to lose influence.

Once you lose two cards (influence), you are eliminated.

Gameplay (7 out of 10 stars)

Gameplay is prettystraightforward. The first player takes an action, everyone has an opportunity to challenge them, and then the next person takes their turn.

There are three actions you can take without using cards – as a result, they are actions that cannot be challenged. (Although they can be blocked by some abilities.)

The first option is taking income, which allows you to take one coin. This cannot be blocked, but it’s such a conservative move that using it repeatedly won’t get you anywhere fast.

Foreign aid lets you take two coins, but it can be blocked if one of your opponents has a certain card (or claims to).

Coup lets you pay seven coins to assassinate another player’s character, causing them to lose influence. It is unblockable.

The available cards to use are the Assassin, Captain, Contessa, Ambassador, and Duke. Remember, you don’t have to have these cards to use these abilities if you pretend to, but you run the risk of getting challenged and losing influence.

With the Assassin, you can pay three coins to attempt to assassinate another player’s character, causing them to lose influence. Unlike a Coup, an Assassin is blockable.

With the Captain, you can steal two coins from another player. You can also block people who are trying to steal from you.

The Contessa blocks another player from assassinating one of your cards.

The Ambassador allows you to exchange the cards in your hands with the Court Deck. The Court Deck is a deck of the remaining cards not in the player’s hands. This is useful if someone is beginning to suspect you are bluffing, but hasn’t dared to challenge you yet. He also blocks stealing.

The Duke allows you to take three coins from the supply, and to block Foreign Aid.

Design (Rank: 7 out of 10 stars)

Design includes two categories: art and components.

The artwork is creative and futuristic, an almost sci-fi rendition of court life.

The components are sparse but adequate. 15 influence cards, 6 summary cards, 50 coins, and a rulebook.

Strategy (6 out of 10 stars)

This game is less about strategy than about how good you are at lying and detecting the lies of others.

There is strategy involved in how much risk you are willing to take, and whether or not to play it safe.

Originality/Creativity (6 out of 10 stars)

The artwork is pretty original.

As bluffing games go, it is pretty creative. It’s court life theme and game based on influence allows you to feel like you are really an ambitious courtier seeking dominance of courtly life.

Replayability (5 out of 10 stars)

This game is fun to play multiple times, don’t get me wrong.

But because there is not much variety, it does get old eventually. That’s why it’s good to play once or twice every couple of weeks or so. Any more than that and it will start being boring.

Links

To learn more: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/131357/coup

How to play: https://boardgamegeek.com/video/78506/coup/coup-quick-rules-explanation-350

Card Games

My Top Five Favorite Card Games

Recently, I created a list of my top ten favorite board games, and I thought, why not one for card games? In general, I enjoy board games more than card games, but these five I enjoy every time they make it to the table.

Here is my list, and why each made the top five:

#5 Coup

Coup Cover Artwork

Coup is a bluffing and risk-taking game. Your objective is to manipulate others and take control of the court.

Each player has two cards that represent the influence of particular character types. For example, an assassin or a duke. Each character type has an advantage named at the bottom of the card, such as allowing you to draw three coins.

You can use the abilities on the cards in your hand, or pretend to have a card with a different ability. Other players may catch you if you are bluffing and force you to lose influence. If the other player is wrong, however, he or she is the one who will lose influence.

Once you reach 7 coins, you can launch an unblockable coup, forcing another player to lose influence.

Since each card in your hand represents influence, when you lose influence, you lose a card. You never draw another another card, so once you lose two cards, you are eliminated.

Even though I am not particularly skilled at bluffing, I enjoy playing this with family members who are good at it. I generally play it safe at the beginning, but some people start bluffing from the start.

It’s a simple game that is perfect as a warm-up for a lengthier board game, or for when you only have a short time to play.

All card types in the game

#4 Sushi Go!/Sushi Go! Party

Sushi Go! Cover Artwork

Sushi Go! is a drafting game. Each player starts with a hand, chooses a card, and passes their hand to the next player. All players then flip their chosen card and those cards take effect.

Some basic cards just score the points denoted on the card. Others require two or three in a matching set to score the point. Some are kept until the end of the round, and some until the end of the game, before scoring.

I like this game because of its cute theme and easy gameplay. After one game, players can easily become accustomed to the scoring system. It’s a great game to bust out when there is not much time to play.

The variant, Sushi Go! Party, provides an even greater variety of cards to make the game less repetitive. I fully recommend Sushi Go! Party if you can get it instead of Sushi Go!, but even the original simpler version will give you a good time.

#3 Dixit

Dixit Cover Artwork

I believe Dixit qualifies as a card game rather than a board game because the small board is only used for scoring purposes.

Dixit is a party game in which players take turns with the storyteller role. The storyteller looks at the cards in their hand, picks one, and without showing it to anyone else, uses a word or phrase that they hope will lead some players, but not all players, to guess it. For example, “Mirror, mirror.”

The goal for the other players is to guess the storyteller’s card.

Each other player uses the word or phrase to choose a card from their own hand, trying to trick the other players into falling for their card instead. For example, let’s say the storyteller’s card is of a woman who looks like an evil queen, and the storyteller is thinking of the classic Snow White.

Another player chooses a card with a literal mirror on it. A third, remembering that the queen asked for Snow White’s heart, uses a card with a picture of a heart on a platter. And so on.

These cards are mixed up randomly, and then players vote secretly using upside down numbered tokens on which one they think is the storyteller’s.

As explained before, the goal for the storyteller is to have some, but not all, of the players guess the storyteller’s card. The goal for everyone else is to choose the storyteller’s card.

If no one chooses the storyteller, or everyone chooses the storyteller, the storyteller gets zero points. This means the hint was either too vague or too obvious.

Players who are not the storyteller can gain bonus points if they trick someone else into voting for their card.

When my family plays, we have a rule that no one can comment after the storyteller chooses his or her word or phrase. This is to prevent players from accidentally giving further clues, such as by saying what the word or phrase reminds them of.

This is one of my favorite card games. It is a bit more complex than most party games, which I appreciate. I love the art on the cards, especially with the expansions. I think it is hilarious how two of my sisters use obscure anime references that they both understand to get ahead in the game.

Other relatives use references to sports, which they know that some players will get, but that my sisters and I will be clueless about.

One caution is that it is not good in groups where most people know each other really well, but there are some newcomers.

Dixit has artwork that is stunning and intriguing, which lends itself well to giving ambiguous hints. I like all of Dixit’s expansions, and while they do not change the rules, they provide more cards with new artwork and styles.

cards 1

#2 Dominion

Dominion Cover Artwork

Dominion is a deck-building game. In it, you play as a monarch attempting to gain influence and expand your kingdom. You start out with a small deck and use treasure to buy cards to add to your deck.

The real goal is to gain victory points by buying victory cards, but these otherwise powerless cards clutter your deck and make it harder to take actions during your turn.

The base game has some variety in which cards you can create the store with, but the expansions greatly modify gameplay and what your decks will consist of.

One of my favorite cards is the Witch, which curses other players by giving them -1 victory point cards to clutter their deck.

This is a phenomenal introductory deck-building game that has dozens of variations. I would recommend any of the expansions to add on to the game, because all of the expansions I have played have changed the course of the game and made it very interesting.

Two player game setup

#1 Saboteur

Saboteur Cover Artwork

Saboteur is my favorite card game. In it, you play a dwarf mining for treasure in caverns. The game is three rounds long. Each game, there is at least one, but usually two saboteurs.

The goal of the regular miners is to make a trail seven cards long to the treasure, which can be in one of three places. (Generally, they use maps to ascertain the location as soon as possible.)

The goal of the saboteur is to prevent the other miners from reaching the treasure. This can be done by placing dead ends, turns, and other unhelpful pieces. Saboteurs can also sabotage the tools of the other miners, breaking lanterns, pickaxes, and wheelbarrows.

When a dwarf has a broken tool, he or she cannot place anymore tunnel pieces until they are healed.

The dwarf that puts the finishing card on the tunnel gets to choose from the treasure first. For the Saboteur to win, the other miners must be unable to place more cards or obviously be unable to finish the tunnel to the gold. After winning, the Saboteur automatically gets three gold because it is harder to win as the Saboteur.

This game is so much fun, we have played several consecutive games in a row on some days. It doesn’t feel like simply a warm-up for a more complex board game – it’s more like the main event. This is one game that is simple enough to learn quickly and yet does not get boring. That is why it made #1 out of my favorite card games.