When you call your game THE Game, then expectations will be high and you also ask for trouble. Ask Google and BGG and you find that ‘Spiel… so lange du kannst!’ (Play… as long as you can) is a pleasant addition for those who want to find a copy. This small card game from Steffen Benndorf has been nominated for the prestigious 2015 Spiel des Jahres award, along with Machi Koro and Colt Express. Is it any good? Well, if you want to know, you’ll have to read this review.
What do you get for your money?
You get 102 cards and the rules.
How do you play the game?
In this cooperative card game you need to get rid of all the cards from the draw deck. You have four discard piles, two in ascending order and two in descending order, and cards with a value ranging from two to ninety-nine. Every player starts with a couple of cards in his or her hand and during a turn the player must discard at least two cards from his hand, either to one of the descending or to one of the ascending order piles. The cards on the descending order pile must be, as you can guess, lower than the previous one and the cards on the ascending pile must be higher.
There’s one exception. You can increase the value of the descending pile if you have a card that has a value of exactly ten higher than the previous one, or decrease the ascending order pile if you have a card that is ten lower than the one on top of the pile.
There’s one more rule. You can not talk about the value of the cards in your hand. You can talk about anything else, but don’t talk about numbers.
That’s it. Get rid of all the cards and then you win the game.
What can say about the gameplay? From the explanation above you probably already have guessed that The Game is incredibly simple to learn, teach and play.
Increase the value of one pile, decrease another or try to cleverly get rid of your whole hand by playing cards that are exactly ten higher or lower. It’s not particularly rocket science, the concept is crystal clear.
After a couple of sessions, I found The Game not particularly difficult to win. It’s slightly more difficult with more players and it depends on the cards you draw, of course, but the game never seemed impossible to beat. The fact that you can’t talk about the value of the cards in your hand, doesn’t feel restrictive to me. You can give a lot of information in other ways.
An easy coop game, that’s what this is. You won’t win all the time, but you win more often than not. But that’s is not what a cooperative game should be, easy. I mean, a cooperative game should be difficult to win at all times. This is my biggest gripe and the main reason that I find this game pretty mediocre.
I have no problem with games with an incredibly simple concept. Other games of the same designer, like Qwixx or Qwixx: the Card game, prove that simple games can be very fun, but this one lacks excitement.
THE game as a title seems a bit overdone, let’s just call it A game and give it a six for gameplay, because when I look at the mechanisms only, I cannot say that, beyond the fact that it’s too easy, there’s something really wrong with it.
Flavour and Theme
The Game has no theme, despite the sinister skull you see on the box and the cards.
Everything looks fine for what it is. The skull on the cards makes no sense to me (isn’t it supposed to be a family game?), but the combination of red, white and black looks good.
Quality of the components
The card quality is good.
I pretty much gave my opinion in the gameplay section, but I give it again here. I find The Game not particularly fun. It’s not a bad game, but I just find it boring.
It might be appreciated by people who like Solitaire, because this game feels a bit like that. And I haven’t played that in a long, long while. For good reasons. Namely, there are better games out there nowadays.
So, now you probably aren’t surprised that I say that I don’t find it Spiel des Jahres material. I do not always like the games that are nominated and that’s fine, I don’t have to. I cannot play or like every game in existence. However, most of the times I can understand why they are nominated. With this one I do not. There must be and there are better games that can serve as a board game ambassador.