Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Meet Me at the Table: Guillotine

How did I stumble upon a game about beheading people? Well, it was Bastille Day and I wanted to really French-Out my day. I went through our games and sure, we had Noah, but I felt like we were short on some super French themed or French made games. As I was browsing some lists, I saw a game I recognized. . . Guillotine. We called our local game shops and off I went to purchase the game.

Title:  Guillotine

Geeky Specs
              Designer: Paul Peterson
              Year Published: 1998        Rough Game Time: 30 mins
              Players: 2-5                         Suggested Ages: 10-12+
              Type: Card Game, Hand Management

What’s the Story, Morning Glory?
Remember in High School, or maybe even Middle School, and you learned about the French Revolution? Then you became obsessed with Les Miserables and Marie Antoinette and your whole life started spinning out of control into a cake and macaroon mess? Or not, but try to think back to those simpler times of basic World History. The long and short of it. . . Down with the bourgeoisie and power to the people. No more powdered wigs!

This game deals with the nobles and what order they are to be executed in. You’ll get to play cards to help rearrange the line of those who are set to be executed. If you’ve been fortunate enough to get your hands on Comrade Koba (2005), this is a more advanced version of it. Or if you want to be more specific, Comrade Koba is a simpler version of Guillotine. Ah, those French and Russians… I’ll never forget that Literature Seminar.

Vive la révolution!

What’s in the Box?
50 Noble Cards (head in a basket)
60 Action Cards (white background)
Cardboard Guillotine
Rules Booklet

How To Play or Not to Play, That is the Question

  1. Set up your guillotine, if it came with a little cardboard one. Or not. We used it to mark the beginning of the guillotine line, since across the table, the start was not always to the right for one of us (the rules say the nobles start on the right).
  2. The lay out 12 nobles, assuming you shuffled them first.
  3. After shuffling the action cards, pass out 5 action cards to each player.
  4. On each turn, a person plays an action card (optional), takes (beheads) a noble, and then draws one action card (unless a card on that turn says differently).
  5. You want to take cards that are going to help you score the most points at the end of three rounds.

The End (of a 3 Day Killing Spree!)
The game ends once you’ve played three rounds. Each round ends when you run out of people to behead.

The goal of the game, as I mentioned above, is the get the most points. So you really want to be looking for the people and the action cards that give you the most play.

Rules Weren’t Meant to Be Broken (Or Were They?)
Pay attention to what is written on the cards. Sometimes a Noble has a special ability or detracts from your cards. Other Nobles or Action cards help you earn extra points for set collecting.

One recommendation was to look for the Palace Guards and collect them. If you get all 4 of them, you get 4 points for each guard. That’s always a nice little bonus to put you over the top.

Best Played Under These Conditions
I actually think 3-4 people would be best for this game. It would allow for enough challenges with the action cards and more would be going on in the game. Playing it with just two people made the game go quickly and was still fun, but I think having the extra addition of people would be the best.

The game is also a nice filler game. It’s not super intense, even though it can become quite cut-throat. ::cough::  You can strategize your action cards, look ahead, and try to guess how the other person might play. There are several cards that allow you to stick it to the man if you’re really wanting that extra edge to your game.

This game it quick. It’s fun for those at your table and you can have a little laugh at your rise out of feudalism.

Spice Up Your Game
I thought it was a great idea to play this on a celebration of France day.  For example, Bastille Day is July 14! So why not celebrate liberty and the storming of the Bastille with a fun France-Themed evening!

Before we even get to the food, one of the neatest ways to seriously spice this up for adults is to actually get a little mini guillotine. I saw some online where people make their own little paper ones or used replicas from models. You could really go all out with this one and use little meeples or figures to go with your cards. The sky is the limit on how to spice up the actual visuals of this game.

The most obvious way to spice up the play is to offer simply fruit, cheese, crackers/bread, and wine. You can go super fancy with this or keep it real simply and buy that block of cheese from the store. Brie is a favorite and can be paired with many food items. Check out your presentation and see if you can make it look more rustic, with a wooden cutting board and floral cheese cutters.

Looking for more ways to spice up a whole night of French gameplay? How about some Chicken Cordon Blue  or an Easy French Dip! Here are two brilliantly tasty recipes for both. The Easy French Dip is low in calories and deliciously filling. We served ours with a simple salad with a Sweet and Spicy Light FRENCH dressing from Wishbone. Seriously, you’ll never go back after that dressing.

I’m terrible at wine recommendations, but please take to your own with that. Maybe you would prefer proper Champagne or maybe you’re just going to have trouble finding some good French Wine at your local store, so you have to buy California wine instead. Boohoo. You have an excuse to have a glass, so don’t complain or your head might roll, too.

Finally, what would a spice up segment be without some goodies. I recommend macaroons if you can find them properly made somewhere or maybe you can make them yourself. We ordered some from this delish little shop and just fell in love!

You could also have almost anything you find on pinterest or yummly for dessert, such as pote de crème or a soufflé (if you dare). We had Pepperidge Farm Pirouette cookies, which are about as French cookie as our local grocer got.

Here’s a first, by the way: You could make a whole night out of French games. I recommend Dixit (and any Dixit expansion). There is also the a fore  reviewed game, Noah. I thought Ticket to Ride: Europe would be fun as well. So really theme of this night with some good ol’ gamin’ fun. Even try a few French phrases to keep things colorful. If you’re daring, throw in a little Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette (2006) or Cheech & Chong’s The Corsican Brothers (1984).  Fou! Oui?

After playing this game with my husband, I was excited to have a new addition to our collection that was pretty fun. I can even see playing this with my kids at school or with our friend Jim. It was quick, painless, fun, and full of strategy. It is a perfectly themed game and the artists, Quinton Hoover and Mike Raabe, created really wonderful and catchy cards. There was even a moment when we thought we were playing a Steve Jackson game. . . That’s how quirky the game is with it’s art. Overall, I give this game a 7.5 out of 10, as I can foresee myself usually being willing to play when it is offered and I will suggest it to friends to play. I might even be the one offering the play it. It’s nice. It’s simple and it was a great way to celebrate a French-themed day. Rendez-vous à la table!

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