Month: April 2011

Under The Microscope – Another Look At No Thanks!

Under The Microscope is probably my favorite filler game – No Thanks!

Designed by Thorston Gimmler
Published in English by Z-Man Games

No Thanks! is a card game in which players pay a chip not to take a card from the middle of the play area. Each card has a certain amount of points on it. By taking the cards from the middle players add points to their ‘hand’. The idea of the game is to have the fewest points at the end of the game. So you must pay to keep your point total low.

The game consists of 33 cards numbered 3 through 35 and 55 playing chips. That’s it.
Oh, and a rules sheet.

Deal 11 chips to each player. Shuffle the cards. Deal 24 cards face down to the middle of the play area. The remaining cards are not used this round and are placed back in the box.

Methods:  So How Do You Play No Thanks!?
The first player turns over the top card of the deck. He has the option to either take that card or pay a chip not to take it. If he chooses not to take it, he places a chip next to the card and play moves to the next player. This player has the same options – take the card AND the chip or pay a chip not to take it. Play continues until someone decides to take the card. This player takes the card and all the accumulated chips. He then flips another card from the deck face up. He now has the same options – take it or pay. Taken cards are placed in front of the player. Taken chips are added to that player’s pool. One twist to play is that consecutive sequences of cards score only the lowest card in the sequence. Also if a player has no chips he must take the card in play. Play continues until all cards are taken. Players then calculate their final score by adding up the points on the single cards and then adding the points from the lowest card in each sequence. Then they subtract a point for each chip they still have.

Results & Discussion – What I Think Of No Thanks!
As I said, this is my favorite filler game.  It is a very fun and surprising game. The rules are so simple yet the strategy involved with keeping your point total low, trying to get sequences, and keeping some chips makes for hard decisions. I like this. The fact that you do not use all the cards ensures that you can’t card count as you never know which cards are in the deck and which are in the box out of play. This is a good mechanic. There is a ‘ take that’ element in the game that is fun. You can drive play around to the guy who has no chips left, forcing him to take the card in play. You can take a card to keep it from someone who needs it for a sequence. You can take a card just to keep the next players from getting needed chips. All of these tactics come into play to add fun.  My group was very surprised by this quick filler.  It is a confrontational game and can be vicious.  But it is all in fun.  I’ve never seen this game fail with any group.
It has unseen strategy and tons of fun.  No Thanks! home on the web is here.  It’s BGG site is here.

Microscope Rating:

Under The Microscope – Rat-A-Tat Cat

This time Rat-A-Tat Cat is under the microscope.

Designed by Ann and Monty Stambler
Published by Gamewright

This is a quick family game that reinforces addition and subtraction where the lowest score wins.

What You Get:
A deck of 54 cards made up of cat and rat cards with various point values or powers
A rules sheet
All in a tuck box

How Do You Play:
Shuffle all the cards. Deal four cards face down to each player. Do not look at the faces. Place the remainder of the deck in the middle of the play area as the draw pile. Turn over the top card of the draw pile to start the discard pile.
Without looking at your cards, put them in a face down row. So now each player has a row of four face down cards in front of him.
Each player now looks at the outer two cards in his row only. Note the point values and remember them. This is important later in the game.
Now the first player takes his turn by:
– drawing the top card on the discard pile and using it to replace one of the cards in his row. The replaced card is then discarded.
– draw the top card from the draw pile. You have options in using this card. You may
-replace one card in your row
-use the power if it is a power card
-discard it
Play continues until one player thinks he has the lowest score and can win. He then taps on the table and says ‘rat-a-tat cat’. Everyone else has one more turn then all cards are revealed. Power cards are replaced from the discard pile. Each player then adds up his points. This completes one round. If playing multiple rounds, shuffle the cards, pick a new dealer, and begin again.
Power Cards
There are three types of power cards in the game. Swap cards allow you to swap any one of your cards with one from another player’s row, without looking at either card. Draw 2 cards allow you to take two more turns. On the first of these you must draw a card from the discard pile. You can use this card but you forfeit the second turn. Otherwise discard this card and draw another one from the discard pile. Use this one or discard it. The second turn is now over. The last power card is the Peek card. It allows you to look at any one of your cards. When power cards are drawn, you must show it to the other players to use it. Power cards are discarded once used.
At the end of the game, the person with the lowest score wins.

What I Think:
This is a pretty fun little game. It can drag if you don’t set a round limit. It encourages children’s adding and subtracting skills in a stealthy kind of way. It is a good game for families with younger children.  It’s home on the web is here and the BGG site is here.

Microscope Rating: