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The only reason I own Martinis and Men is because Tanga sold it cheap with High School Drama and Tom Vassel had said decent things about High School Drama.
However, when I read through the rules, Martinis and Men didn’t strike me as a bad game. In fact, although it was clearly very luck dependent and light, it looked like the rules slotted together rather well.
Martinis and Men is a game about pairing up people who have at least one thing in common and marrying them off. The game ends when one player gets three couples married and whoever has the most married couples at that point wins the game. It is also, in essence, a dice-driven game of Go Fish.
The game comes in a small but sturdy box that’s actually about the size it needs to be. Inside, you get a deck of cards made up of men and women in blue and red, along with two matching dice. The dice are six-siders but instead of having pips, they have three hearts, two martini glasses and one lightning bolt.
Each card shows an artsy picture of either a man or a woman, along with two traits. Really, the traits are an adjective and a noun, examples being things like a shy music-lover or a cultured yuppie. Each trait also has an associated icon and those icons are on the upper left corner. That is a really nice touch. That means you can fan the cards and still see all the relevant information and you can easily tell what traits a card has no matter its orientation when it’s on the table.
There are also special cards. You play a special card after the dice are rolled to force one of the dice to get rerolled. That’ll make more sense in a minute.
Each player gets six cards. On your turn, you choose a card from your hand and place it down. Everyone else then has to place a card down that is the opposite sex that matches one of the traits on the card. If no one has a matching card, the card is placed in the middle of the table, in the dating pool, which means their up for grabs later on in the game. You can also match a card in the dating pool or even two cards from the dating pool but you can never match two cards from your own hand.
After you have a potential pair, you then roll the dice. If both dice come up hearts, congratulations, they got married. You place them face down in front of you as part of your scoring pile. If the dice are any kind of combination of hearts and martini glasses, including two martini glasses, they are interested. You place them in front of you, face up, as a potential couple. However, if either die is a lightning bolt, things didn’t go well. The card that got the lightning bolt (Remember, they are color coded), gets discarded. If only one got the lighting bolt, the other card goes into the dating pool.
However, if you successfully married off a couple, that sets off wedding fever. Every player gets to roll again for each interested couple they have sitting in front of them. Thus, it’s possibly to set off a wedding fever that could lose you the game. Or, if you want a more positive spin, you can win when it’s not even your turn.
As I mentioned before, one player getting three married couples triggers the endgame. Well, okay, the rules themselves ACTUALLY say that the first player who gets three married couples automatically wins. I just like to to play out the wedding fever because I think its more fun.
Okay, that’s how the game is played. How good is as a game? That’s the real question.
First off, let’s get one thing straight. This is not a gamer’s game. This is not a game you pull out at game night and say “Let’s play this instead of Power Grid.” This is a light and fluffy game where luck of the draw and the dice are going to have a lot to do with whether or not you win the game, particularly the dice.
That said, for the right audience and the right situation, this is a surprisingly good game. It is easy to teach, particularly since everyone knows how to play Go Fish and that’s one of the building blocks of the game. However, the dice make it interesting and keep the game from just being about card counting. The ending conditions also mean that a game will go by a lot faster than Go Fish.
The theme of the game also makes it a good game for parties (it plays up to eight) and for dates and the like. There is no denying that, as light as the rules are, they are tightly tied to the theme, which is pretty cool for rules this light. The artwork is a fun and a touch risqué but nothing terrible. It’s not PG-13 and I’d show it to my parents without a second thought but it might not be suitable for everyone.
And, while luck is the biggest deciding factor, there are some decisions to be made. Do you try to reduce your opponent’s hand? Do you try to reduce the dating pool? Do you play a card you’re pretty sure no one can match and hope that it stays in the dating pool long so you can try to match it with another card from your hand?
If you’re looking for a light and slightly mature party game that doesn’t have anything to do with trivia or drawing, Martinis and Men is a surprisingly solid game. I’m glad that I picked it up. However, if luck and fluff aren’t your style, you can probably give it a pass without too many regrets.
Me, I brought it along on a date and the game got played five times, which certainly isn’t bad. We had enough fun with it that I know we'll play it again. That's probably the best thing I can say about Martinis and Men. We had fun and will play it again.
- Last edited Tue Jul 22, 2008 1:47 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Tue Jul 22, 2008 12:49 am
This will be in our line up of games for our social "Wine and Game Night".