Trifecta, a card game for two players from Zoran Dobrijevic and Victory Point Games. You play with regular playing cards. However, you only use three suits, you place cards in three different columns with different conditions. One point for the player who completes a column. Be the first to get three points and you are the winner!
What do you get for your money?
You get 45 playing cards, plus the instructions.
How do you play the game?
Trifecta is a two-player game you can play with a regular deck of playing cards. You only use three suits instead of the usual four. With the card deck from victory point games you also get three additional cards, two with a plus on one side and a minus on the other side, and one that points out the ‘same suite’ column. You must then create a row of these three card, placing the minus card on the left, the ‘same suit’ card in the middle and the plus card on the right. Or the other way around, it doesn’t really matter.
Then every player takes two cards and during a turn you draw one card and place one card in one of the three columns. You can play a card on your side, on your opponent’s side, but you can also discard all you hand cards and draw two new ones. You do waste a turn this way.
What you try to do is make a column of five cards on your side with a combined value higher than 20 and lower than 27.
Of course there are restrictions. In the minus column you must place a card with a lower value than the previous one, in the plus column you must place a card that is higher than the previous one and in the ‘same suit’ column you obviously only can place a card with the same suit as the previous one.
You have cards with a value of 2 to 10. The jack, queen and king are valued one and the ace can be a one or an eleven. An ace is also a wild-card in terms of its suit. Plus, when you place a two in the minus column, it reverses the sign into a plus. The same happens with the plus sign when you place a king into a plus column, it reverses into a minus sign.
When a player places the fifth card in one column on one side, you check the combined value of these five cards. When they have the required value, you score a point, if not you discard these card and you have to start all over again.
The first player who scores three points, wins the game.
At first glance, Trifecta reminds me of Balloon Cup; a game I reviewed earlier and I really like. In both games you play cards on both sides of row. However that’s about it. This game is not like Balloon Cup at all.
Here your value has to end up between a specific number. You, therefore, have to start thinking about chance and possibility from the first card you lay down. There are two reasons this is quite difficult to do. The first one is the fact that, at the beginning of your turn, draw one card from the deck. So, there’s luck of the draw.
The second reason is that, once you’ve drawn this card, you only have a choice of three cards. That’s not a lot of choice. There are turns when you cannot play a beneficial cards on your side or an unfavourable card on your opponent’s side. So then you have to play a card that will help her or will totally destroy your strategy. I feel a bit powerless at that point.
Luck is just more important than I would like in Trifecta. Since you must end up between 21 and 26, you have to think ahead. However, you can have a great plan, but if you just draw the wrong cards, it’s just too bad for you.
I do like the ‘reverse plus/minus card’ mechanism. You can use it in your advantage or just to bug your opponent. It is much harder to predict if you will be successful in the ‘same suit’ column. You just don’t know if you will be able to add another four cards of the same suit after you placed your first card. You may not draw another blue card for the rest of the game.
I found that we mostly played cards in the minus and plus column and only when we couldn’t place a card there or we couldn’t bug each other, we placed a card in the middle column.
No theme. End of story.
I think the illustrations and graphic design make this game look (kind of) elegant. However when you look at the game closely, it looks bad. There are coloured or white borders where there should be none. Some cards have round edges, some are almost perfect rectangles. This is due to the poor quality of the components, The cards haven’t been cut right, but it results in a bad-looking game. All in all, this game looks cheap.
Quality of the components:
It does not only look cheap, it feels cheap too. Like I already said, the cutting is far from perfect, but the quality of the card stock itself is also bad. A bit saddening for a company like Victory Point Games.
I picked this one up, because I like card games in general and this one was lying at the cash register, so I thought: Why not?
The rules are easy, it’s easy to explain, it comes in a small package and the price is low. But is it fun?
No, I would not describe this as a fun game. It’s not a bad game, but it feels very insignificant. It falls in that ‘Meh’ category. You can only choose from three cards, choices are limited and it sometimes feels like you just do not have enough influence on your own game.
If you make a ‘new’ game that uses a basic deck of cards, it must bring something special to make it stand out and this one doesn’t bring anything exciting.
Do you really, really, really like traditional card games? Maybe this is a game for you, but in all other cases leave it with the cashier.