Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Joy of Gaming - The Grizzled

This is a game we discovered at GenCon 2015 and fell in love with. My husband had been playing with friends and they kept losing and losing and apparently it was really hard. Then I started playing with him and he started winning. I like to think I am some sort of good luck charm when playing this game, but I know I'm probably being a bit arrogant about that. I'm destined to lose a proper game eventually.

The Grizzled (2015)
Design team Fabien Riffaud (a newcomer) and Juan Rodriguez (Elixir) have definitely put some heart into this compelling and historically inspired cooperative card game. Working together with your teammates, you have to tackle the mission by eliminating cards from the Trials stack. At the end of each round, more cards are added, but you have the chance to deal out more cards to your teammates to help get through the Trials. You cannot talk or communicate unless you have a speech token, where you only give hints about threats. Threats are the images on the cards that are played (mortar shells, gas-masks, night time, winter, etc.). If you play three of any threat card, you fail the mission. Avoid this and you will be successful. You can give hints using your speech token or use your character's lucky charm. Players have to really be in the heads of their teammates to hopefully understand the actions they take.

Within the round, when you have played all the cards you can play, you withdraw and give support to other players who might need to get rid of Hard Knocks cards or earn back their lucky charm. This is a very involved game with many little things to keep track of and learn, but once you start playing, it becomes second nature and things happen automatically.

The art is by Bernard Verlhac, also known by his pen-name Tignous. Tignous was never able to see the fruits of his creative labors, because in 2015 he was killed in the terrorist shooting at the French publication Charlie Hebdo. The artwork is stunningly gorgeous and is reason enough to own this challenging game. The attention to detail is spectacular and edges itself into contemplative art.

The Grizzled is a great game for most ages. I took the game into my game club, because I have a lot of students who are war-buffs. Sadly, the cards are written in cursive and our district doesn't teach cursive, so at least one of my students could not read the cards. I wasn't playing the game, but I was there and I had to read the cards for him. I might be making a reference sheet for them so that they'll be more eager to play without getting frustrated over the text. I, though, love it, because it's authentic.

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