playing cards

TDG: Friedrich


How did they fight the Seven Years' War? With playing cards! No joke- check out this classic wargame of maneuver, bluff, and attack from Rio Grande Games. Will it be Frederick's greatest triumph? Or will it be a seven years' snore? Cody takes a look!

Posted By cody read more

Cody & Shawn discuss good and evil Korea and the card game Koryo


Shawn: Hey, Cody! I've got to tell you, I really like Machi Koro. Thanks for reviewing it in episode ten. It's a great game from our friends in Japan.

Cody: That it is Shawn, that it is. Say, would you like to hear about another great game from Asia, this one from Korea?

Shawn: Would I? Of course I would- wait- is it from the good Korea or the evil Korea?

Cody: The good... I think. In any event, I can't imagine joyless communists coming up with a game like Koryo.

Shawn: Koryo?

Cody: Koryo.

Shawn: Okay, so the name of the game you are going to tell me about is Koryo?

Cody: Yup. Koryo.

Shawn: Please proceed.

Cody: Koryo, from Asmodee, is a card game for two to four players that is part of the micro-game movement, packing big games into little packages like Coup, Love Letter, and the aforementioned Machi Koro.

Shawn: How does it play, this Koryo of which you speak?

Cody: First of all, there are eight season cards. Each round a new season card is revealed which denotes how many cards each player receives, as well as how many cards a player can keep in front of him at the end of his turn. As the game goes forward, players receive less and less cards, but they can keep more and more cards in front of them.

Shawn: Wait, wait. Back up. I want... No Cody, don't literally backup. Step forward. Okay, I want to know why you're putting cards in front of you? What's that all about.

Cody: On your turn you can only lay down sets of the same card- never different cards. But you can lay down as many of the same card as you have- and you'll want to. There are nine numbered cards that denote special characters, each with a special ability- if you posses the most of them in front of you. For instance, if you have the most banker cards (sixes), you gain a victory point. If you have the most spies (twos), you can steal victory points from other players. If you have the most broadcasters (eights), you can get dealt an extra card at the beginning of the turn. And there are many more special abilities.

Shawn: So if I lay out the most of one card, I get that special ability, but no one else, right? What about ties?

Cody: In the event of a tie, no one gets the special ability, unless they have the most omniscient cards (ones), which break ties.

Shawn: Wow! So that's it? You just try to lay down the most cards of a set in front of you every round?

Cody: Not quite. In addition to the character cards, there are also event cards- the barbarian card and the lobbyist card. Both cards are listed as negative one. If you play a barbarian card, you can destroy one of your opponents' cards. If you play the lobbyist, you can force two players, including yourself, to swap two cards.

Shawn: The swine! Is there any defense against barbarian and lobbyist cards?

Cody: The Guardian (sevens) and spies (twos) block the barbarian and lobbyist cards respectively. But the player who plays that card has problems, because that event card remains out in front of them until they gain the power of the priest (fours), which allows them to get rid of the event card.

Shawn: Oh- I see, you are limited by the number of cards you can have out in front of you by the season card, and the event cards take up space. I assume you have to discard excess cards in front of you.

Cody: Exactly.

Shawn: Wait a second Cody. You said the game lasts eight rounds, but how do you win?

Cody: At the conclusion of the eight rounds, players gain points for having the most cards in a set before them equal that set number. For instance the player with the most merchants (nines) in front of him at the end of the game gets nine points, the player with the most broadcasters (eights) in front of him gets eight points, etc.. etc.. It is possible to have the most of multiple sets. Also, victory points scored from the banker are factored in, and all event cards count as a negative one to the victory point total.

Shawn: And if players are tied the player with the most omniscient cards (ones) can break the tie, no?

Cody: No! Only omniscient cards can only break ties during the rounds, not in final scoring!

Shawn: Cody, there's no need to yell at me!

Cody: Now you're yelling!

Shawn: I'll be the bigger man and stop yelling. So what do you think of Koryo?

Cody: Koryo is a fun game. It is very reminiscent of those other micro-games, and it's generally engaging. I like how it forces players to guess what other players are going to attempt to do, and I like the event dynamic, where you can really screw over another player, but you'll pay for it in the long run. I also really like how quickly this game can turn. You're in the lead one minute, then one bad round can completely change the game's balance of power.

Shawn: I sense a “but” coming...

Cody: It is a fun game, don't get me wrong. The problem I have with Koryo, however, is that as the game goes on, players become more and more limited. Their choices gradually disappear. Your strategy gets locked in fairly quickly, and it can be difficult to switch gears by mid game.

Shawn: Did that increasing stagnation ruin the game for you, like it nearly ruined our friendship?

Cody: In fairness Shawn you lacked spontaneity in 2006. Just saying. The answer is no, because Koryo is a relatively quick game. It plays in about 15 to 20 minutes, so that even though you may get bogged down in a strategy, it's over so quickly you don't really have to brood on it. It's not an evening long epic game where you screw yourself over early and have to live with it for two hours. If Koryo were a longer game, I don't think I'd like it much, but given its length, it's a pretty fun little game.

Shawn: So, what is your recommendation, Mr. Excitement?

Cody: I'd have to say try it before you buy it. It's a fun game, but not an amazing one.

Shawn: For your sake, I really hope that game came from the good Korea. Evil Korea has gone to war over less!

Posted By cody read more
Subscribe to RSS - playing cards