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    Review: Guillotine

    April 8, 2016

    It’s the French Revolution and pretty much everyone has a grudge against everyone else. Folks are especially suspicious of the nobles, who don’t represent the people fairly. What’s the easiest way to fix the problem, you ask? Why, join together under the rallying cry of “OFF WITH THEIR HEADS”, of course. It’s time to topple the Man and start a new government that espouses the most important needs of the People. Like more cake! Vive la révolution!

    The game of Guillotine is an old favorite of the store and a sure-fire hit for anyone who likes a fast-paced, comedic card game with a gentle learning curve. Two to five revolutionaries can play a game in about 20-30 minutes, and the rules are very concise and easy to understand. Each game is made up of three rounds, called Days. Each Day features twelve random character cards from the Noble deck, who are placed in a line before a quaint little cardboard guillotine that actually comes in the box. (Don’t worry; there are no sharp edges!) The object of the game is to “kill” (collect) nobles that are worth points and to end up with the most points at the end of the revolution to win. Sounds a bit gory, but it’s actually a whole lot of bloody fun!

    Noble cards feature fabulous art of terrified well-to-dos, and their colored borders denote their specific categories (red is Military, blue is Clergy, purple is Government, etc.). Each noble is worth a points value, from the Lady-in-Waiting (1 point) to King Louis XVI himself (5 points). Each player is given five Action cards to use before they behead a noble. Some of these actions can affect the order in which nobles are beheaded, for instance, while others let players switch out nobles from their collection pile with another player’s more valuable cards. The turn order is simple: play an Action card, behead the noble at the front of the line, draw another Action card. When three lines of twelve nobles are gone, the game is over and the player with the most points is the hero of the revolution!

    The strategies in a game of Guillotine center around two variables: one, how players use Action cards to influence the order of executions, and two, how the special rules on the Noble cards influence each other. For example, Pierre is getting ready to take a turn after Clotilde, and he sees that the Archbishop (worth 4 points) is second in line to be claimed by the guillotine. But before Clotilde nabs the Tax Collector (worth 2 points), who is the first in line, she plays her Trip card, which moves any one noble exactly one space backward in line. This Action gets Clotilde the more valuable Archbishop and leaves the 2-point noble to Pierre. Other Action cards serve as multipliers, like Military Support, which is worth one point for every red-bordered Military noble in a player’s collection pile. Some Action cards are also worth points themselves, like Fountain of Blood. And selected nobles can have their own rules text, like the Count and Countess, who are each worth two extra points if they are both in a single player’s collection pile. Players must be wary of the grey-bordered characters, however, like the Martyr and the Clown, plebeian heroes who are worth negative points and should be avoided at all costs.

    Crafty revolutionaries will find ways to leave their opponents with the least valuable nobles while stocking their collections with the best ones, and that’s the key to winning a game of Guillotine. This stand-alone work of perfection is scalable from two to five players and runs well everywhere in between, and despite the somewhat dark humor, it’s appropriate for ages 10 and up. Guillotine is inexpensive, very replayable, and easy to take with you on a trip. If you haven’t ignited a revolution yet, you should give it a try! It takes a balanced combination of luck, timing, and unabashed deviance to take down the government – are you up to the task?


    If you like: Citadels, Saboteur, Magic: The Gathering
    You’d definitely enjoy: Guillotine
    MRP: $14.99
    Designer: Paul Peterson
    Produced by: Wizards of the Coast