Review reposted from http://www.boardandsavior.com/post/38998396088/guillotine-cr...
Charles De Gaulle once asked “How can you govern a country which has two hundred and forty six types of cheese?” Whether a similar thought occupied King Louis XVI's head, moments before it was severed from his shoulders, is unknown.
It was 1789, and centuries of monarchism had come to a grim finale in France. The Third Estate had risen, motivated by the incompetency of their sovereign and the greediness of their nobility. It wasn't just the finality of the crown, it was the birthplace of French feminism, the bloody legacy of Robespierre encompassed by la Terreur and the quietus of many among the population. It was the French Revolution, and there was no symbol more emblematic of this grim period of time than the blood soaked blades of the guillotine.
Guillotine, published by Wizards of the Coast and created by Paul Peterson, is a two-to-five player card game that takes a lighthearted look at the French Revolution. Using two decks and a masked, miniaturized decapitator, you are given free reign to safely tour the chaos of France at the close of the 18th century. By playing and capturing cards, Guillotine invites you to relive the savagery that claimed the French countryside for ten grisly years.
Although the rules of Guillotine are elementary, gameplay can become knotty, and at times, torturously labyrinthine. The objective of the game is to earn the most points by collecting the heads of those most loathed by the French citizenry. At the start of the game, both the action and noble decks are shuffled and five action cards are dealt to each player. Twelve nobles are then dealt out from the top of the nobles deck and laid out, end on end, starting from the base of the cardboard guillotine.
On your turn, you:
-Play an action card (optional).
-Collect the first noble in line.
-Draw an action card.
Play is divided into three 'days'. On each day, twelve nobles are dealt out before the chopping block and the day ends when players have collected the noggins of all the nobles face up on the table. Once all three days have expired, everyone counts their points and the player with the highest point total is declared executioner supreme and hero of the French speaking public.
The nobles deck is comprised of five colours that separate the five groups up for beheadings in Guillotine:
-The Military (red)
-The Royals and their retinue (purple)
-The Clergy (blue)
-The Bureaucrats (green)
-The Innocents (grey)
In the bottom right corner of each noble, a point amount is listed. This will help you determine which skull you should split on your turn.
Guillotine is a game of intentional disorder. Your best laid plans will unravel almost instantly and even the most devious scheming is usually in vain. Enthusiasts of this game are usually found with a rooted gratification in absolute bedlam. Action cards are as helpful to you as they are to your opponents. While the card you are currently holding in your hand will surely grant you the most luxurious bounty, your opponent will gladly and usually interfere before you can take another turn.
First time players may find themselves daunted by Guillotine, as not only do many of the nobles contain additional stipulations and actions, but some of them (innocents) will tragically deduct points from you. The action cards that can be played can do anything from moving nobles forward and back in line, removing a noble from an opponents score pile, gaining additional points for having nobles of a certain colour, and possibly even ending the round instantly.
The worst thing about Guillotine is without a doubt the nearly criminal components. While the cards are lovingly designed and well illustrated, the box is a travesty; it is shoddily constructed and a nuisance to repeatedly open. To add insult to injury, the flimsy cardboard cut-out guillotine is about as ominous as French toast. This game is desperately crying out for a redesign to stave off the eventuality of this becoming merely a Wizard of the Coaster.
I found Guillotine to be most enjoyable with two players, where the mayhem of multiplayer becomes instead a fine series of A-ha! and Gotcha! moments, each person carefully laying a trap for their opponent, each constantly vying for the upper hand. With more than two players, I found three actions cards to be superior to the five the rules dictate. To me, this slight rule deviation provides for a more structured, but still enjoyably messy game.
I would also suggest removing either the Scarlet Pimpernel from the action deck or Robespierre from the nobles deck prior to the game. Both these cards cause the day to end prematurely and having these cards played on two separate days cause an already casual game to be close to non existent. Whether you remove 'the incorruptible' lawyer-turned-tyrant Robespierre, or Baroness Orczy's gallant and heroic Sir Percy, is entirely up to you.
I find being objective about Guillotine to be painful as it's become a serious struggle to not wholeheartedly advocate a game with a glorious pun paraded on the cover. To put it plainly, Guillotine would be anathema to strategically minded gamers, so stay away if your heart is ruled by a tactical meritocracy.
If you happen to plan a board game party revolving around the acquisition of Guillotine, I can only really endorse inviting friends and loved ones who prefer disorderly, dysfunctional chaos to reign in this fun look at the end of the line for French royal rule. However, if some of your more strategic, calculating friends happen to tag along too, well, you can always just let them eat cake.
If you enjoyed this review, please take a second and stop by my new board game review site, Board and Savior ( www.BoardandSavior.com). Thank you so much!
Eastern Pennsylvania Game Society
I play at EPGS on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month and if you live in Eastern PA, Western NJ or Northern DE ... you should too!
Just call me Erik
Good photography, excellent writing, and even a few good suggestions on house rules.
Well done! You get my !
- Last edited Sat Dec 29, 2012 4:14 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Fri Dec 28, 2012 2:52 pm
Nice review. I agree, this game is MUCH better 2-player (I will really only play it 2p), since there's at least strategy to it that way. I don't agree that the day-ending cards should be taken out of the game, as that's part of the strategy. Stick your opponent with the worst cards you can, and if you can't get any good ones, then get out while the gettin is good.
Re: Guillotine: Crueler Heads Prevail
Have I ended a game effectively in 1 days + 2-3 turns? Sure. Have I won by doing that? You better believe it.
Great review... Wish I would have read it before playing for the first time last night. I like the idea of going down to three action cards when playing with four people.
- Last edited Sun Jan 20, 2013 2:51 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Sun Jan 20, 2013 2:50 pm