New Card Games


So: it's been a while, but I'm back with more on the "Analog" gaming front! I've just discovered a few new games and had to share!

So: it's been a while, but I'm back with more on the "Analog" gaming front! I've just discovered a few new games and had to share!

I wandered into my favorite games store the other day and grabbed 3 new games. 2 are really card games, one is technically my first "trading board game", but it feels a lot like cards to me. And that's a plus. . .at least for portability.

All three have the advantage of being eminently portable. All three are different enough from what I already play to be interesting and they appeal across a wide range of ages.

So what are they? First is Labyrinth. There a number of games with this word in the title, so you have to be careful to get the one that's being described, but this one is just one small box with 50 small square cards (which function a lot like tiles) and a few instructions in it. This is a variant of the more famous "aMAZEing Labyrinth", made by Ravensburger as well. The game requires no reading - but it can, depending on how you play it, require a great deal of complex logic.

The basic mechanics of the game are fairly simple: To start the game, randomly place four maze cards in the center of the table to form a square. The remaining maze cards are placed in a pile where all players can reach them. Each player then draws two maze cards. On your turn, add one of your cards to the growing maze. In order to be able to take a card from the maze, there must be a path formed from one of the treasures on the card you played to a matching treasure somewhere else in the maze. If this is the case, you can take the card with the same treasure as the card you just played and it will be counted as one of your points at the end of the game. However, you cannot take the card from the maze if it leaves another maze card disconnected. If you cannot form a path to a matching treasure with either of your cards, simply connect one of your cards to the maze and draw another card. When the card deck has been depleted, the player who collected the most cards from the maze wins the game (this description was lifted from here). Note, some tiles have 2 treasures, some have 2 monsters and some have both a treasure and monster. As the rules didn't give anything like a good definition of what was a "treasure" and what was a "monster", we decided all living things were "monsters" (or "not treasures" as my daughter says) and all not living things were "treasures". Thus, Unicorns are "Not Treasures" but Crystals are.

How you play the game varies with the people you play it with. Yes, it's designed so your children can get into gaming, but that shouldn't surprise those of you who have read my material, I tend to focus on the games you can play with your kids (and that won't numb your brain). My 7 year old looked at the game and asked "can we match monsters instead?" - so there's your first variant. Match the monsters. This is harder, as they were not part of the original design so don't have the exact numbers of each type to match, but it's definitely a good first twist. The next variant my daughter has suggested (and that we plan to try) is to collect only treasures which are not impeded by a "monster" in between. There are lots of paths that have nothing between the 2 treasures you seek to match, and lots that have creatures in the way. She wants to play a variant that only allows the clear path to count, and believe me, that's going to be more complicated, both in terms of placing tiles and in terms of gaining treasures. The other variant we've discussed is requiring that tiles actually match in both wall and opening - the base rules don't require that, so this will also add a level of complexity to the game. The game is fun, fast (about 20 minutes) and a great way to play a game with your kids. There's even an online site that published a really good variant for the more advanced (he calls it 2 variants, but the second is the same with one more action allowed). We suspect this one will really stretch our 7 year old.

The next game we acquired was Quidditch. It's a card game from the world of Harry Potter (ain't licensing grand?) and it's designed for fast, easy play. Again, the instructions aren't great - it took longer to read them and make sense of them then to play our first game - but it's worth it as my daughter really enjoys the game. This game can usually be found hanging on a peg board near all those "travel size" versions of things like Uno and Yahtzee and is made by Mattel.

The basics are simple, but again, the specific instructions aren't easily digested. You are playing for the Golden Snitch, just like "Real Thing", with Quaffles and goals worth 10 points each along the way while Bludgers and the occasional "Jinx" will get in your way. The complicated part is learning what card is played when and what card works with or against what other card (reminded me of learning Pinochle, but that's a different story). Strategy is where the game gets exciting and interesting.

Again, it's for 2 players, it plays quickly (about 15-20 minutes per "match"), and it's great for playing with your kids. This one doesn't have cool variants that I could locate, but it's a nice, quick, game and good for logic and number issues with your younger ones.

The last game is really beyond most kids under 10, I suspect. My husband and I are still figuring it out, and it's definitely designed for the "grown up" gamer. It's called "Crypt: The Pharaoh's Curse", where players try to escape a tomb while fighting each other, and it bills itself as the first "collectible board game". This one is published by a new company - Line Of Sight Game, Inc. Mind you, this company has produced 18 commercially produced products since it's inception in April of 2002, so they're taking themselves pretty seriously. Crypt is available in starter boxes containing 5 hexes (hexagonal tiles), 3 six-sided dice, 3 character cards, 34 action pieces (cards), and 20 life/creature tokens (thank you Booster sets are available with different character cards and more hexes - for most of us, one starter and 2 boosters is quite enough to play for quite some time.

"Played on a set of illustrated Hex tiles it employs role playing combat, and card game mechanics into a smooth and exciting game. Players continue to be involved even when dead and the game can be played solitaire or in large groups" (lifted from
(I especially like the "play when dead" rules - those are pure genius, thank you Mr. McCracken!)

This is definitely one of those "easy to learn, hard to master" games - which makes it a good one for long term play.

The best description of this game I found is at and there are already mail lists and bulletin boards dedicated to discussing strategies and tactics for this game (scroll down on the site and find a few).

The basic game involves each player bringing a set of hexes to the table and taking turns placing them, setting traps for each other and trying to be the first to escape the crypt. One of the nice design features of this game, is each hex has a small, blank hex for you to place your "mark" or "initials". Note that while this aids in getting your own hexes back at the end of the game, it is likely to hurt the collectibility of your hexes, so player beware. Another nice feature is that the game is also playable as a solitaire (sort of "against the Crypt" concept). One small quibble I have with the game is the section on Solitaire Rules, in the back of the manual, is the only place where one of the graphic elements is defined. The Hex is detailed in the front of the manual, showing what each element is for - all except the little hex with the number in it that only some of the board hexes have. That element, used to delineate cards for the Solitaire version, is only explained in the back of the manual. . .ah well, something to fix for version two. Overall, the game is great fun and looks to be something we'll be able to play for sometime.

So: 3 new games - 2 of them quite playable with your younger kids (I'd say about 5 or 6 and up, depending on the child and the adults in question) - and one just for mom and dad. Enjoy! I'll be back with more stuff soon!