Introducing Chimera & More

One of the most popular card games at conventions and in many gaming groups is Tichu, a climbing game that has been a long-standing favourite for gamers here on BoardGameGeek. Hardcore Tichu fans are many, and will be quick to sing its praises as one of their favourite games. The family of climbing games (link) is filled with many quality games, but Tichu is the clear number one, followed by other well-known titles like Haggis, The Great Dalmuti, Frank's Zoo, Gang of Four, and more simplified games like Clubs and President. These games are all indebted to climbing games like Big Two and Tien Lien which are played with a deck of standard playing cards. But of them all, Tichu is well entrenched in the number one spot, and is widely recognized as the go-to climbing game for gamers.

But Tichu does have one big draw-back: it's designed to be played with a group of four players in partnerships of two. In fact, its this dynamic that is a huge part of its appeal. But what if you don't have exactly four players? That's where Chimera announces itself, as a Tichu-type game designed to fill a gap on the gaming shelf. It promises to provide Tichu-style game-play when you have exactly three players. That's right - this is not a game for four players; in fact it doesn't even have rules for four players games, because that's what Tichu is for. In Chimera, which first appeared in 2014, designer Ralph Anderson has created a Tichu-like experience for just three players. Every hand, two players must team up as the Chimera Hunters to defeat the third player who is designated Chimera. The usual staples of climbing games are all there - pairs, triples, straights, and special cards - but the scoring system is interesting because your partner is constantly changing. While it shares a similar DNA to Tichu, it is a different game, being faster, easier to learn, and more cut-throat than a partnership game. And it's been well received, with a lot of positive response from gamers. As an indication of its popularity, the designer recently heard about a Chinese couple that had played over 1100 games of Chimera - at the publisher's booth in Essen this year they showed a spreadsheet where they track all of the games of Chimera they play in their family, with scores and averages for each player!

After first publishing Chimera with Z-Man Games three years ago, Ralph Anderson has continued to explore the game-space of Chimera, experimenting with ways to make it work with five players as well. Play-testing of the five-player rules at BGG.CON in 2016 received positive feedback. And so now here in 2017 Chimera & More has arrived, with a new version of the game that includes the three-player game, and twice as many cards for a five-player game. This time it has been published by Eagle-Gryphon Games, as entry #13 in their E•G•G Series. This series consists of small box games which are designed to be portable, play quite quickly, and accessible to a wide range of gamers, while being marketed at a relatively low price-point. Other great titles in this series include Sluff Off! (original title Die Sieben Siegal), Eggs and Empires, and Can't Stop Express. Chimera & More seems to be a very good fit for this series, so what should you know about it?

Since the game has already been published in an earlier edition, one of my main objectives in this review is to give a brief overview of what people think about the three player game, to introduce it for those unfamiliar with it. While it is appearing ina new edition that has new elements - new artwork and expanded components to make five player games possible - the fact is that Chimera already has a very positive reputation, and so I'd like to share with you the good things that people have been saying about it since 2014. In addition, I'll also show you what the new edition looks like, and give an overview of what the five player game is about.



THE 3 PLAYER GAME

Let's start by taking a look at the three player game, which has been out already since 2014, and is basically unchanged in terms of game-play. So there's going to be no unpleasant surprises as far as that is concerned, and it can be helpful to consider what is already certain about Chimera in its three player form. I've scoured the personal comments and skimmed through some other resources, and carefully organized some key quotations to bring you the important things you need to know and what other people think about the three player game of Chimera. The parts in bold express my own conclusions, which are then expanded upon and substantiated by the citations that follow, to give you a feel of what most people are saying on each point. Perhaps you could call this a kind of "consensus of opinion", somewhat biased because I'm the one who gets to pick the quotes to include, but overall a well-rounded and fairly objective viewpoint. So here you have it, an at-a-glance overview of some of the majority opinions that you need to know about this Tichu-like title for three players.



What do people think?

1. Chimera is a climbing game for exactly three players.
The best climbing card game for 3 players. - Dalar
Excellent 3 player card game. - montsegur
A nice 3 player Trick taking game with a slight twist. - Tjolmir
A good climbing game for three. Can't really think of too many negatives. - cane
You can never have too many 3-person-only games. - ericbjohnson
The best three player only trick taking/laddering game I've ever played. - ZapRowsdower8
Very similar to Dou Dizhu, but with improved mechanics. Recommended. - Basto
Absolute no brainer insta-buy for fans of Tichu and climbing/shedding games. - NuMystic
Highly recommended strategic filler for 3 players. - longhunter

2. As such, it can be considered a three-player Tichu-like game.
A great 3p version of Tichu. Well done. - Alan Stern
Tichu for 3! My favorite find of Gen Con 2014. - roric32
Good alternative to Tichu, if you are lacking the fourth player. - flott
Great for Tichu fans with only three players. Thus far: Tichu > Chimera > Cosmic Eidex > Haggis - milank
I love Tichu. Chimera is a lot like a 3-player Tichu. If you can't get 3 other people to play Tichu with you, but you can get 2 other people who like Tichu, play Chimera! - E_perryi
Chimera delivers a great great climbing/shedding game for three that sits nicely alongside its contemporaries Tichu and Haggis.- hawk-x-
Love Tichu and only have 3 players? This is your answer. Haggis is great with 2, but Chimera offers a much closer experience to Tichu with 3. - NuMystic
This is referred favorably as "3-player Tichu". - Larry Chong
Tichu-esq for three players. A good ladder game that scratches the same itch. - Tatsu
A very good 3ppl only card game similar to Tichu. - KubaP
This game starts from a good place given my unabashed love of Tichu and Haggis, and the similarities between them. - smorange
A 3-player variant on Tichu, which I enjoy very much. - timewellspent
This is essentially 3p Tichu, much better than the 3p of Tichu, though. The bidding is elegant, good. - Starsunsky
A really nice 3-player version of Tichu ... this is probably the best 3-player game out there. - smilingra
Intriguing three-player Tichu-ish card game. - moorwild
A very well implemented 3 player Tichu. All fans of Tichu should try it. - KTPrymus



3. Despite the comparisons with Tichu, Chimera has its own feel, and some even prefer it over Tichu.
This is a fine climbing game that is similar to Tichu yet stands on its own. - HBGlover
Definitely one of the better 3-player card games available. Plays a lot like Tichu, but has its own vibe too. - CoreySanders
I prefer the partnership aspect of Tichu, but Chimera is very enjoyable nonetheless. - E_perryi
Excellent 3-player climbing game. A lot like Tichu, but also quite different in the details. Well worth having both! - snoozefest
Solid 3 Player (only) trick taking game. I actually like it better then Tichu. - fsnam
Tichu for 3. I find I like it a bit more than Tichu. - deedob
Wow. Very pleasantly surprised. 3-player rules in the Tichu box are lame, so why would a stand-alone Tichu variant be any better? I don't know. But it is. - curtc
Personally, I like this more than Tichu. - verandi
Neat trick taking card game, excelling Tichu with a neat push your luck bidding, as in spades. - caltexn

4. The basic concept pits two players against one, where two Hunters must defeat the Chimera player, who has bid to go out first.
Players bid to be the chimera, who scores points if they go out first; the other two players form a temporary alliance as the hunters. - srand
One player plays the Chimera, and the two hunters play against him/her. The Chimera gets 3 extra cards, and needs to get out first. The hunters win if one person goes out before the Chimera. - arod324
The crux of what makes it unique and exciting is that two players (the Hunters) try to take down the Chimera (the player who bids, thinking they can finish first). - hawk-x-
Bid player is against the other two to go out first. Be the first to play out all your cards. Lead with sets, stepped pairs, trips or minimum five card straights. Singles and pairs can be dumped by attaching to your lead. Special cards for traps and bombs and combos for scoring. - whokan
2 vs 1 changing partnership play. Feels like a 3 player version of Tichu. - byturn
Basically plays out in a 2 v. 1 where the 1 is in the only position to score points, but instead of passing around the Chimera/Landlord title, you have to bid on it. Fun stuff. - DuneTiger



5. The changing partnerships and shifting allegiances are one of the very appealing aspects of Chimera game-play.
I love that two players are playing against the Chimera. - jgoyes
Although the number of players limits the amount of times this will hit the table, Chimera is a nice twist on climbing games: 1 vs 2. - Challindra
I like the 2v1 dynamic that changes from hand to hand. - smorange
Interesting dynamic with the 2 vs. 1 play, where you want to go out first, but in the points on the cards are very important as well, so you don't always want to just play to go out. - chaddyboy_2000
The basic feel of Chimera reminds me a lot of Tichu. But with the removal of the partnerships, they added a new twist to the formula. Since there are no shared victories, you can't never be sure if your hunting partner won't just go for straight points by collecting treasures instead of stopping the Chimera. This adds a new dimension to the game that I'd like to explore further. Nice stuff! - dmn1414
Chimera offers a large does of Tichu's high risk high reward structure by providing the Chimera with a few additional cards if/when they set the bid, but also provides the Hunters one (possible) opportunity to trade cards. The collaboration is uneasy, ambivalent, and sometimes devious -- only when your partner is well behind you that you will be wholly helpful (e.g., pass them off a few good cards). The Traps (AKA Bombs) appear slightly more frequently than in Tichu, but nowhere near as often as in Haggis, also become a risk/reward for Hunters as should they fail to catch the Chimera, winning the hand becomes all the more triumphant (via bonus points). Super neat game of shifting alliances in which many probing gazes are shared. - hawk-x-
The 2 vs 1 dynamic is pretty interesting. - joeeoj010
I've taught this to non-Tichu fans and they enjoyed it more than Tichu since you are mainly playing for your own victory (non-partnership). - Larry Chong
Playing as the Chimera can be incredibly tense, because you never know when an opponent might throw down a trap (bomb) and take the lead, ruining your chance to go out first. - theaaron

6. Other aspects of game-play also help set it apart from Tichu, especially the many card combinations and the tense bidding; skill is more important than luck.
Bidding who becomes the chimera is fast and the combinations that are allowed are a mix of familiar and new combos. Pretty fun. - Challindra
There are some decisions that I would have initially thought were bad ideas (allowing a triple plus a single as a legal combo???), but it works. It helps to reduce the number of singleton tricks. Also having suited "dragons" plus the "uber-dragon". Bombs have been improved by removing the timing issue (play on your turn only). Many more good things to say. - curtc
The many different card combinations you can play take out some of the luck of the deal, as you can play yourself out of some bad cards. Many other games, such as Tichu, rely much heavier on simply getting a good hand of cards. - chaddyboy_2000
I think there's little to choose between Chimera and Haggis as three-player climbing card games. Chimera's greater flexibility in its combinations makes for lightning fast hands, but, on the downside, demands less thought about how to get rid of those odds and sods in a hand. Chimera has the high bidder playing against their two opponents and gaining extra cards in compensation. It's high bid or nothing approach creates more tension than the bidding in Haggis. - Andy Parsons
It's still has highly similar amount of depth and strategy as Tichu, but Chimera is quicker, more flexible hand management and thus easier to learn/play while still being a complex enough card game that skill will usually win over luck. - Larry Chong
The game choices aren’t obvious and I think skill is way more important than luck in Chimera. - jgoyes
My group plays quite a bit of this and Tichu. I like it better than Tichu. The 2-on-1 element and having to bid every round just cranks up the tension. - binaryphile



7. On the negative side, the large number of possible combinations is one factor that means it can be challenging to learn.
Quite challenging at the beginning. - ahalm
The permissible combinations are higher on rules overhead than Tichu or Haggis. - smorange
A point in favour of Haggis is its more easily remembered card combinations (just sets, sequences and bombs) compared to oddities like a pair of triplets, each with an unrelated card attached in Chimera. - Andy Parsons
Remembering the differences in what you can play is a challenge sometimes. - galfridus
The rules are pretty simple but I would have loved some player aids to help players remember what are the legal tricks. - jgoyes
While explaining the various leads makes everyone's eyes roll the first time, I've never had anyone not understand the game within two hands. - binaryphile
Do not confuse new Tichu players by switching to, or switching back and forth with, Chimera, because there are a number of little differences in play. - E_perryi
My main complaint is that the game isn't quite as elegant as Tichu. - theaaron
Took a few rounds before we were able to get past our Tichu experiences and understand the different sets that exist in this game and how to play the cards a bit better. - larryjrice
Too much unnecessary complexity. - oskari

8. Most of the critics who didn't enjoy the game basically fell into two camps: 1. Those who liked it, but prefer Tichu. 2. Those who didn't like it, but don't like any climbing games.
A far cry from the dynamism of Tichu. - oowick
I'd rather wait till we have four players and play Tichu instead. - greglios
I'm not a fan of this genre, but it's an interesting game for those that are fans. - brianeikunst
I just have to stop trying climbing / trick taking games. I don't enjoy them. - nycavri

9. The art on the cards is very attractive and the cards are good quality.
The art on the cards is just beautiful. - hawk-x-
The new artwork is gorgeous. - munihack75
Arguably the best looking card game in this genre to date. - NuMystic
I love the art for this particular Z-man line of card games. - shadow_bind
High quality cards, even though it just a regular 52 card deck with two extra cards. - oskari
Lovely card design that improves the game's learning curve. - Basto

10. Overall there is a whole lot of love and enthusiasm for Chimera!
Almost everyone I've introduced to the game loves it. - binaryphile
I've really enjoyed this three player card game. - jaredkass
I love this game. The best 3 player card game that delivers in all of the best elements of card games. - Ayanami77Ivy
We liked this game more than we expected. Certainly more than Haggis. It´s a game that you want to continue paying more hands once you reach the appointed limit. - tlarraya
Fast to learn, lots of strategy. Very fun game. - Ihwarrior
Chimera is a novel climbing game and is now my second favorite climbing game, only surpassed by Haggis in this regard. - jgoyes
After 10 plays, I finally appreciate all of Chimera's nuances and can say that I wouldn't change a thing about this little gem. - longhunter
I am the designer and I always love playing it. - DragonCat



What does the designer think?

While doing some background reading on this game, I was curious about its origin, and how it came about, especially given the way it seems to be trying to fill a place that Tichu can't - the three player game. So I decided to write the designer, Ralph Anderson, and subsequently enjoyed some lovely correspondence about the game and its genesis. He was kind enough to answer my questions, and to agree that I could include them in my review article.



1. To establish your credibility, what do you think of Tichu?
Ralph Anderson: Tichu has been one of my favorite games for years. I first played it at The Gathering of Friends around 2002 when my friend Mario Pawloski brought it over from Germany. I became its biggest cheerleader playing it with everyone at the Gathering that I could. From there, it has become a much beloved game for many, many card players across the US. I can't even count the number of times I've played Tichu late into the night. My love of Tichu and cutthroat card games inspired me to design Chimera.

2. Why did you design the original 3-player Chimera?
Ralph Anderson: Tichu was the direct inspiration - that and my love of 3-player cutthroat card games. Many of us talked about how great it would be to expand the number of players to 3 and 5.

3. How did you go about designing it?
Ralph Anderson: The immediate event was a chance conversation I had while demoing Mike Fitzgerald's games at Toy Fair in NYC. One of the other people in the booth mentioned how he had joined a Chinese meet-up group where he played a very interesting card game called Fight the Landlord. I did some research and found the rules to Dou Dizhu, a very popular public domain gambling game. It comes from the same line of games that was consulted in the creation of Tichu - especially Big 2. However, as a gambling game, it was really not suited to what I wanted. I spent a lot of time tinkering to create a linear scoring system and then charged it by making it very desirable to bid because there was a larger reward than risk. I added in point cards and rewards, and modified some of the play to create Beat the Boss (the prototype name) which later morphed into Chimera.

4. In what key ways do you think it is similar to Tichu?
Ralph Anderson: Chimera shares the same DNA as Tichu, exemplified by playing various card combinations in an effort to get rid of all of your cards first. Both games feature bombs/traps and special cards that have unique functions.

5. In what key ways do you think it is different to Tichu?
Ralph Anderson: Chimera uses the same type of deck, minus two cards that are no longer needed due to the 3-player nature - the Dog and the Mah-Jong (Sparrow). However, with 5-player Chimera, I did bring them back in a different way. In Tichu, you may (or may not) call a Tichu for additional scoring. In Chimera, every hand has a bid which means each hand has a "Tichu" call for extra scoring. In Tichu you have set partners. In Chimera, you play for yourself, although you may be aligned in "uneasy" partnerships in which you are under no obligation to help your partner. Chimera plays faster as the game is over once any player gets rid of all of their cards. Chimera also has fewer fiddly rules in terms of the interactions of the Dragon, Phoenix, Dog and Sparrow in Tichu. These are not knocks on Tichu, as these are very important parts of the game and I love them. They just are not needed in Chimera. I also think Chimera is a little easier to learn for two reasons: fewer rules (such as those just mentioned) and the removal of set partners. I have heard many new players mention how they are very nervous about letting down their partners (much like in Bridge) and so are not keen to be thrown in with established players. In Chimera, you are in it for yourself and never for your partner.

6. What are some things about that you like best about playing it?
Ralph Anderson: In both Chimera and Tichu I love the card play. Determining the best way to play your hand, what cards your opponents have, how to lose control of the lead and getting it back - just the sheer joy of the tactical play. Also, set up time is fast, play is fast with little to no downtime, and you can play a series of hands in an hour - or continue playing for hours on end.



THE NEW EDITION

Box

So, now that we've established the credibility of this little gem, let's take a look at the new edition. Like all the other games in the EGG Series, the Chimera & More box is compact and portable. It's immediately evident that it's bigger than a Tichu box, but remember that this has double the amount of cards, in order to accommodate a five player game.

The cover features Asian style artwork which will return in the game, and tells us key details like the name of designer Ralph H. Anderson, and that it's the result of a cooperation between his Flightless Goat Workshop and Eagle-Gryphon Games, that it plays for around 45 minutes, and is a 3 or 5 player card game.



Along with a list of contents, the back of the box summarizes the game as follows:

"Chimera & More brings you into a world inspired by an entire family of Chinese climbing and shedding card games including Big Two and Fight The Landlord. Modern card games derived from these games include Tichu, Haggis, and Chimera.
Chimera & More includes both the original 3-player version first published in 2014 as well as the NEW 5-player version."



Component list

Inside the "Chimera & More" box we get the following:
● 90 cards
● 2 reference cards
● 2 bonus Jokers & 1 ad card
● score-pad
● rules



Cards ranked 0 through 12

The three-player game uses a 54-card deck, while the five-player game uses a 90-card deck.

There are five suits in five different colours (black, orange, green, purple, blue, red), and each suit has cards numbered from 0 through 12.



Two of the cards in each suit have special significance, namely the cards ranked 2 and 11 respectively. The 2 is a "Fortune Toad" and is worth 10 points, while the 11 is a "Prosperity Cat" and is worth 5 points.



These values are marked on the cards for ease of play.

Hunter cards

Each of the five suits also has a Hunter card, marked with a H.



Special cards: Chimera & Pi Ya

The Chimera card simply outranks all single cards. The Pi Ya card outranks all other single cards (except the Chimera), and can be used as a wild card to substitute for any ranked card 1-12, to help make a sequence.



Special cards: Messenger birds

These four extra cards are marked Q (which stands for Qingniao, blue/green birds that appear in Chines mythology), and have special abilities, and will be used only in five-player games.



They have green instead of the red artwork that is on all the other card backs, to make them easily distinguishable.



Bonus cards: Jokers

You don't need these two cards for Chimera, but they are bonus cards that come with the game, and can function as Jokers, in the event you want to use your Chimera deck for other traditional card games that require Jokers.



Reference cards

There is a double-sided reference card that show the number and type of cards that go into the Chimera's Den at the start of every hand.



A second double-sided reference card explains how 3 and 5 player games work.



As an extra bonus, you also get a promtional ad card with a delightful picture of the designer's "Flightless Goat Workshop" brand.

Score-pad

The score-pad that comes with the game has the same dimensions as the box, and has 50 score-sheets (which are double-sided) that can be torn off, so it should keep you going for a lot of games.



Rulebook

The rulebook consists of a small 12 page booklet available from the publisher here.



The actual rules for playing only take up four pages, but additional pages include some card summaries, scoring examples, and a list of legal combinations. The designer Ralph has stated that the only actual game-play change from the ZMan edition rules for the three player game is this: "I changed the rule for 2 pairs in a sequence as it does not change things dramatically and it makes the rule consistent across both three and five player Chimera as well as for Tichu. Overall, it makes it easier to play and remember. I do not notice a dramatic difference in play." (source)


THE 5 PLAYER GAME

Overview

As a disclaimer, I've not yet had opportunity to get five people to the table to play this newer addition to the game. Since the game is only just hitting the market, there's not a lot of feedback so far on the five player game from anyone yet, although Robert Seater remarks: "The rules are well written and keep it clear how things change, but I still find it hard to keep in my head the rules for both versions of the game and all the small but important ways they differ." There is this one lone comment from JonBen which is helpful and positive: "The rule tweaks for 5p Tichu are incredibly clever. The game works very well, is similar to Tichu in a lot of ways, but has it's own unique strategic twists. Highly recommended for fans of Tichu or any ladder games."

So how does the five player game change things up? Well I've already shown you the components of the new edition, so that already gives some idea of the new cards that are added to the game to make this work. That's probably the single biggest change that was necessary: a much larger deck of 90 cards, mostly as a result of the addition of two new suits. Some extra cards were also added (cards of rank 0, and Messenger Birds).

For the five player game you need the following cards:
- 6 cards of each of the ranks 1-12
- 6 cards of the rank Hunter (H)
- 1 Pi Ya card & 1 Chimera card
- 4 Qingniao (Q) cards (Messenger Birds)

Partnerships are adjusted to have three players teaming up against two players each hand, and the bidding structure is changed so that the Chimera selects a partner to work with. The main aim is the same, in that the Chimera tries to be the first to go out, and the other team of players tries to prevent this, but there are some other small changes about how hands can end, and to the scoring. In addition, each player on the non-Chimera team gets a Messenger Bird (Q), which they can play once per hand to throw the lead to any other player, or as any ranked card (0-12).

That's the five-player game in a nut-shell; obviously there are quite a few small nuances, and you can expect to take some time to master the changes and new possibilities this creates. Due to the additional rules for bidding and selecting a partner for Chimera and for passing cards, and the extra cards and combinations in the five-player game, it is advisable to first learn the three-player game first. In just a moment we'll hear directly from the designer, with more details about how the five player game works, and the changes it makes.



What does the designer think?

Just as with the original three player game of Chimera, I decided to ask the designer Ralph Anderson some questions about the five player game, and he was happy to agree and graciously gave me permission to include them here. I'm sure I'm not the only one who is genuinely interested to hear from the mouth of the guy who is the most knowledgeable guy on the planet about this new game. So I'm glad to share with you what he thinks about the five player version, how it came to be, and how it differs from the three player version.

1. Why did you design the 5-player Chimera?
Ralph Anderson: As I said earlier, we talked about designing a Tichu-like game for 3, 5 and 6 players. Also, I had reacquired the rights to Chimera from Zman/Philosophia Edition. For several reasons, including the acquisition by Asmodee, my game was not in print for over a year and I was able to take them back contractually. I met with the new Asmodee representatives and we mutually agreed this was agreeable.

2. How did you go about designing it?
Ralph Anderson: I started tinkering about to fill in the 5 and 6 player niches (and 4 player as well). However, I found that the dynamic and the card count really only works with odd numbers of players. I could not get the numbers to work for 4 and 6 players in terms of numbers of suits, suit lengths and the dynamics of play. So I abandoned the 4 and 6 player versions and concentrated on 5-player. The bidding had to change, there had to be a partner for the Chimera to preserved the dynamic of 3-against-2 corresponding to 2-against-1, and there needed to be more points available in the game.

3. What are the key changes that the five player game makes?

Ralph Anderson: First, a new deck. Then, a new bidding structure that serves three purposes: bidding to be Chimera, selecting a partner and passing cards in the two "partnerships" formed. There are also 4 new cards that are assigned (not dealt), the Messenger Birds.

The new deck resulted in each player getting 16 cards to start with 6 cards in the Chimera's Den (kitty) and 4 additional cards to go to the non-Chimera players. This meant adding 2 more suits, adding cards of rank 0, and adding the Messenger Birds for a total of 90 cards (6x14 for the cards 0-12 plus the Hunters; +2 for the Chimera and Pi Ya; +4 for the Messenger Birds). The Hunters and the Chimera's Partner each get a Messenger Bird bringing their hands to 17 - the same as in Chimera. The Chimera's Den Cards (6) are split between the Pi Ya and the Chimera players by the Pi Ya player, bringing them to a total of 19 for the Chimera and 20 for the Pi Ya.

The new bidding structure includes putting down 0-3 cards that serve two purposes: cards that the Chimera can trade for when he selects a partner (inducement to pick a player) and cards to be passed between players. This also gives a lot of information to the players about who has what cards, that also leads to information about how the cards are distributed. The Messenger Bird cards give a lot of power to the non-Chimera players as they can be used to pass the lead (like the Dog in Tichu) or to assume the value of any ranked card (0-12). This assists in making combinations. This card is also worth 10 points to the person who captures them in a trick or to the player that uses it to pass the lead.

With more than 3 players it was also necessary to allow Traps to be played out of turn, which is not necessary in 3-player Chimera.

The hand can now end in different ways. It can end immediately if anyone other than the Chimera goes out first, just like in 3-player and the Hunters get 25 points. However, if the Chimera goes out first, then it ends when the next player goes out. Scoring is also a little different, especially for the Chimera's partner, the Pi Ya. If the Chimera goes out first, that player gets double the value of the bid, just like in 3-player and the Pi Ya gets the value of the bid. If the Pi Ya then goes out second, then that player gets the value of the bid again.



4. How would you compare the overall feel of a five-player game compared with a three-player game?
Ralph Anderson: I believe 3-player is a much tighter cut-throat game. The 5-player game (as most games with higher player counts) is a bit looser and more chaotic. Overall, chaos is a good things in games and I believe 5-player still retains enough order but it is a looser less cut-throat game. In both games, it is very important to play for points at all times, and many decisions will depend on who has higher or lower scores: it's better to give points to a player who is behind than to give points to a player who is ahead. The Chimera must be very careful in the choice of partner in 5-player, as that person will be feeding them cards from the Chimera's Den, and can be very helpful in assisting him in going out first. However, if the Chimera is ahead of the partner in score, then the partner (Pi Ya) may not have his or her best interests at heart!

5. Between the three-player game and five-player game, which do you prefer best, and why?
Ralph Anderson: It all depends on whether there are 3 or 5 players available to play! I am very content to play either one.

6. What are your thoughts on the components of the new edition by Eagle-Gryphon Games?
Ralph Anderson: I worked full time for Eagle-Gryphon Games for almost 4 years and am still a consultant for them on special projects. I know their commitment to quality games and components. I am quite pleased with the result. I chose the artist, (Doug Hettrick) myself. He is a local gamer that comes to my house often to play games. In addition to his regular job, he is also a baker and an artist. We chose him to make our wedding cake last year, and it was spectacular. He also worked closely with me to create the new cards, which I am extremely proud of. We spent a lot of time getting them right.



CONCLUSIONS

What do I think?

The genre: Clearly this game is geared towards gamers who enjoy juicy climbing games. Chimera has an established and respected ancestry in Tichu, which is easily the game of choice when you have four players and are playing in partnerships. But the problem is that in real life you don't always have four players, and yet you still want to play a game of this sort. That's exactly the niche that Chimera tries to fill, and it does it superbly.

The three-player game: The three player game is already a proven winner for people who love Tichu and are looking for something to play when they just have three players around the table. It's not the first game of this type, and another candidate in this category is Haggis, which is billed as a Tichu-like experience for 2 or 3 players. Haggis is superb for 2 players, but for 3 players, Chimera is the game that works best. Many would agree that with 2 players choose Haggis, with 3 players choose Chimera, and with 4 players choose Tichu (for more discussion see this thread). The positive reception of the original Chimera game is already proof that the 3 player game works well, so you're not going out on a limb of the uncertain or unproven if you are thinking about picking this up.

The five-player game: Now of course Chimera comes with the added benefit of being able to handle games with just five players as well. Clearly Ralph Anderson has devoted an enormous amount of time and passion into making this game, and expanding it to be able to cater a five player group. With a larger deck, adjusted rules, and extensive play-testing, I would suggest that the five player game isn't just an ugly "patch" to try to make Chimera work with more players, but is a carefully thought out game in its own right. Either way, it's best to learn and play the three-player game first.

The components: The new edition from Eagle Gryphon Games is a good fit for the EGG Series, and I'm very pleased with the quality of the components. The rule-book has fairly small print, but this is in a portable sized box after all, and it also has lots of examples and illustrations. The cards are excellent quality. They are bridge sized (necessary due to the large hand sizes), and have a linen quality finish, so they handle and shuffle smoothly and cleanly, and should prove durable. The indices are clear when you're holding a large hand, and I like the graphic design and style of artwork, all which help give this game a unique feel and vibe, and make it stand out from a traditional card game. As an added bonus, you effectively get six different coloured suits of 14 cards each, so the cards themselves are a toolbox that can be used to play a ton of other games (see for example the GeekList Games playable with Rage deck).



Recommendation

So is Chimera & More for you? While it is not identical to Tichu, and certainly has its own flavour and nuances, if you do like the feel of the game-play in Tichu, there's a good chance that this will tickle a similar itch for 3 or 5 players. So if you're a big fan of meaty climbing games like Tichu, definitely take a look at Chimera!

Where to get it? Chimera & More is now available directly from the publisher Eagle Gryphon Games (here), and from many game retailers.



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P Jones
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Comments from the designer make this review stand out, adding context and an appreciation for how this game about.
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Martin Larouche
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Not sure i'd ever play this with 5...

I love Chimera, but it seems a bit too much to try to control at 5.

... but at leaat you can't replace the entire content of the box with a regular deck of cards now. Good for them i guess.

The original Chimera has 4 suits of 13 cards numbered 1 to 12 + 4 hero cards, and 2 special cards.
You could easilly pick a regular deck, make the kings the hero and use the colored jukoer as the chimera and the black and white joker as the piya. This was instant Chimera for 2$.

You essentially paid for the ruleset.
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Zeb
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Funny Chimera story. I had the Z-Man version of the game and played it with a couple friends. "Dave" was bidding super aggressively and getting trounced because he wasn't covering his bids. I looked through the combo list and said "Wow some of these combos are crazy. I can't imaging playing four of a kind and two attached pairs." Dave immediately chortled "Oh yeah, well take and look at this" and slammed down that exact combo. He was gloating in triumph until "Colin" played a higher version of the same combo on his turn, winning the trick. One of my all time favorite gaming moments. I wound up trading it away because I could never get it to the table after that, Haha. Highly recommended if you have friends that enjoy trick taking games.
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Martin Larouche
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Stinkfoot71 wrote:
Funny Chimera story. I had the Z-Man version of the game and played it with a couple friends. "Dave" was bidding super aggressively and getting trounced because he wasn't covering his bids. I looked through the combo list and said "Wow some of these combos are crazy. I can't imaging playing four of a kind and two attached pairs." Dave immediately chortled "Oh yeah, well take and look at this" and slammed down that exact combo. He was gloating in triumph until "Colin" played a higher version of the same combo on his turn, winning the trick. One of my all time favorite gaming moments. I wound up trading it away because I could never get it to the table after that, Haha. Highly recommended if you have friends that enjoy trick taking games.


Not to nitpick... but Chimera is a ladder-climbing and not trick taking.

... yeah i'm that annoying guy
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deedob wrote:
Stinkfoot71 wrote:
Funny Chimera story. I had the Z-Man version of the game and played it with a couple friends. "Dave" was bidding super aggressively and getting trounced because he wasn't covering his bids. I looked through the combo list and said "Wow some of these combos are crazy. I can't imaging playing four of a kind and two attached pairs." Dave immediately chortled "Oh yeah, well take and look at this" and slammed down that exact combo. He was gloating in triumph until "Colin" played a higher version of the same combo on his turn, winning the trick. One of my all time favorite gaming moments. I wound up trading it away because I could never get it to the table after that, Haha. Highly recommended if you have friends that enjoy trick taking games.


Not to nitpick... but Chimera is a ladder-climbing and not trick taking.

... yeah i'm that annoying guy


Once and for all because I've never quite grokked the concept, what is a ladder-climbing game and how does it differ from trick-taking games?

Comparing Chimera & More to Chimera, are the Chimera bits exactly the same? The difference is only the addition of the 5p mode?
 
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MentatYP wrote:
Once and for all because I've never quite grokked the concept, what is a ladder-climbing game and how does it differ from trick-taking games?

Comparing Chimera & More to Chimera, are the Chimera bits exactly the same? The difference is only the addition of the 5p mode?

In trick-taking, players play one card at a time and play of a trick ends when each player has played one card. (There are tweaks - e.g., Chronicle.)

Play in climbing games can go around multiple times. Players may be playing larger combinations, and may sometimes pass in one round and then play in another.

Chimera and More includes a lot more cards to support 5 players. It contains all the cards that you need to play the original game with 3 players. The artwork is different.
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MentatYP wrote:
Once and for all because I've never quite grokked the concept, what is a ladder-climbing game and how does it differ from trick-taking games?

Comparing Chimera & More to Chimera, are the Chimera bits exactly the same? The difference is only the addition of the 5p mode?

Gillum pretty much nailed it, but just to confirm what he's written:

Trick-taking versus Ladder-climbing

Trick-taking: Starting player leads with a single card, play goes clockwise, the remaining players get only one turn to play, each consisting of a single card, which need not beat the previous card played.
Ladder climbing: Starting player leads with one or more cards (in a legal combination defined by the game), play goes clockwise, the remaining players get multiple turns to play (until everyone passes), each consisting of one or more cards in a legal combination, which must beat the previous cards played.

Chimera versus Chimera & More

Chimera: Z-Man Games (2014), 3 player game only
Chimera & More: Eagle-Gryphon Games (2017), identical 3 player game, additional 5 player game (which uses all cards from the 3 player game plus extra cards), new artwork for all cards
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Officially, Tichu plays counterclockwise, but I'm not sure that I've ever played it that way.
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Cheers Ender - This goes onto my must have list.

I don't play enough Tichu these days but this could help that.
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