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Subject: Sometimes A Beautiful Game Walks Into Your Life rss

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David G. Cox Esq.
Lighthouse Beach
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Do what you can, with what you've got, where you are.
SuDoku: The Card Game

Mathematical Game for 2-5 Players
Less Than 30 Minutes A Game
Designed by Reiner Knizia
Published by Z-Man Games (2006)

Every now and than a really beautiful game walks into your life. A game that has great components, that both look and feel wonderful. The game’s rules are written with incredible clarity. The subsystems are smooth and intuitive. The game creates an excitement level amongst the participants that is unrivalled in their collective gaming experience.

Unfortunately, ‘SuDoku: The Card Game’ is not that game - but that is not to say that it is totally without merit.

Components: 1 set of 9 yellow cards numbered 1-9, 5 sets of 9 blue cards numbered 1-9 and 1 very brief set of rules. The cards are square, thickish and good quality. The rules are concise and clearly written.

Playing the Game: Initially a yellow card is randomly selected and placed on the table. Each player starts with 5 cards in their hand. Each player, in turn, places a card on the table and then draws a card from the deck of unused/unplayed cards.

Just as in a SuDoku puzzle, when placing cards, no blue card placed next to a yellow card can have the same number as another blue card already next to that yellow card. As cards are placed they will form a grid. In each line and row of the grid no number may appear more than once.

If a player places a card illegally that card will be removed from the grid and placed in front of the offending player and remain there, as a penalty stack, until the end of the game. At the end of the game the player with the fewest offending cards in their penalty stack will be the winner – when scoring, yellow cards count as two blue cards.

Impressions: I don’t play SuDoku puzzles, but my partner does. I bought the game hoping that she would enjoy it. To be honest, the game actually is better to play than I expected it to be. Never-the-less, it seems to have the feel of a puzzle rather than a game.

Placing cards really is just a matter of being careful. If you take your time and concentrate you should never place a card in an illegal position. This is the reason that it has the feel of a puzzle – a little bit like a jigsaw. One of the problems with this aspect of the game is that it makes the game slow (sometimes even tedious). There are some occasions that you simply do not have a card in your hand that can be legally played.

I have found the game to be best with two players as it moves along at a better pace. The more players involved the more the game tends to slow down. It is still quite good with three and normally takes no more than 15 minutes to complete a game.

To the uninitiated there is little strategy in the game and little skill involved in the placement of the cards. I personally think that there it is more than just a matter of being careful to check your card placement carefully. There really is some skill in the game and it becomes more interesting in the middle and end stages of the game. Initially just about any card can be placed just about any where. As the game developes it is important to hold back yellow cards to try to limit your opponents options. As you peruse your hand of cards it should be obvious that some cards may have multiple placement options while other cards may be very limited as to where they may be placed.

The other interesting aspect of the game is to watch your opponents' placements with care so as to make sure that you point out there mistakes.

I see this as a potentially pleasant time-filling game. It is not particularly exciting to play but it is pleasant enough, especially if you enjoy playing around with numbers. The short playing time lends itself to situations where you may be waiting for other people to arrive before you commence the real game.

To be honest, I see it as potentially pleasant as a solitaire game where you simply play the cards to see if you can go through the deck and end up with nothing in your penalty stack.

It will have more appeal to those who enjoy sudoku, numbers and puzzles rather than those who really are looking for a competitive board or card game.

arrrh “Dead Men Tell No Tales!”

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