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Subject: A Fast and Fun Light Party Game rss

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Stephen Schaefer
United States
Columbus
Ohio
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I had the pleasure of sampling Martinis and Men at Origins 2007, and I have to say I was quite pleased with this title. It's quick to learn, fun to play, durable, portable, and a nice "gateway" game for people who fall outside the traditional "gamer" stereotype (women in particular seem to be a target audience for the game).

The gameplay mechanic is quite simple, and was described to me by the lead designer as essentially, "Go Fish, with dice". And it really is just that simple. The deck of 80 cards is evenly split between male and female, each with two descriptors printed on the card. Each player starts with a hand of six, draws a card at the beginning of each turn, and presents a card from their hand, in search of a match. Any other player with a card of the opposite sex, who matches at least one of the two descriptors, must lay down that card in response. For example, if player A presents a male "Shy/Geek", and player B has a female "Shy/Club-Fiend", she lays that down since "Shy" is a match. Player C has a female "Laid-Back/Geek", so she lays that down because "Geek" is a match. Player D has no females with either of those qualities so she lays down nothing. Player A would then select a female card as a potential match for that male card from the ones presented, if any. If no players have a match, your card goes into the "Dating Pool" instead. On subsequent turns, if no players can match your card, you may match it from the cards tossed into the Dating Pool. In this way, you could lay down a card that already matches one in the Dating Pool, knowing that if no player has a match, you're guaranteed one from the Pool. You can even match two cards directly from the Pool in lieu of playing out of your hand.

Okay, so you've laid down a card and someone has laid down a match for your card. Now you roll the dice, one for the male, one for the female. The dice have three values etched on them: a lightning bolt means you're shot down, a martini glass means you're dating, and a heart means true love. If the two dice have different values, the "lowest" value wins, so if there is only one lightning bolt, the couple breaks up, while two hearts are required to marry them off. A lightning bolt sends the card to the discard pile, and any "surviving" card goes to the Dating Pool. Dating couples go to your side of the table, face-up. Married couples go to your side of the table, face-down, and count as one point. Three married couples wins the game.

The last wrinkle in gameplay is that when any couple gets married, all the dating couples on the table get "Wedding Fever". The players re-roll for each dating couple to determine their new status: break-up, still dating, married. The same rules apply as when you first rolled their matchup. In this way, based on the rolls, there is the potential for a single wedding to cause a lot of points to suddenly appear on the board.

The game is surprisingly fun to play, and mostly I say that as a manly man who can't be seen fiddling with cutesy art on cards, or telling my other manly man friends that I'm playing a card game about dating couples. But many a gaming snob would scoff at this game and walk by, only to return a half-hour later, sit down "just to see what it's about" and end up getting sucked into a rousing game. In its own amusing way, I watched it turn into a sort of geek matchmaker tool unto itself, with gaming girls sitting at the table beseeching nearby guys to sit and play with them. Even my wife, the consummate roll-her-eyes-at-me non-gamer, learned this game in a flash and had a great time playing (even better when she won).

The game components are just right for this game: the cards are thick and sturdy, but not cumbersome. You can shuffle them with relative ease, and yet not worry about spilling a bit of your drink on them. With no complex bits or extra assembly, the cards and dice fit into a small, neat box that can be easily carried, stored, or even tucked into a woman's purse.

It's easy to get drawn into comparisons about bits or mechanics or theme (yet make no mistake, the theme is strongly incorporated here), but lest we forget, a game first and foremost should be fun to play, and an experienced to be shared with others. As a light party game, Martinis and Men fits the bill nicely.

limecamellimecamellimecamellimecamellimecamellimecamellimecamellemoncamelorangecamelorangecamel (7.5/10)
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Jeremy Carlson
United States
Wheaton
Illinois
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It also didn't hurt that the woman trying to lure the guys in to play, had a very nice pair of....eyes. Yes, the one in the red shirt.
 
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Dani Sanders
United States
Mount Holly
North Carolina
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Thank you for this overview of the game. I heard a brief interview with the designer on a podcast that intrigued me. Now I know that I definitely want the game. It would be perfect for my group; we like to make a whole meal out of fillers
 
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Stephen Schaefer
United States
Columbus
Ohio
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Which podcast?
 
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