Thank you for checking review #30 by Cardboard Clash. My aim is to focus on reviewing board games and how they play for two people and, on occasion, how they play for one person. Because my wife is my primary gaming partner, a lot of consideration goes into finding those games that play well with 2 players, and we typically prefer to find those games that do not require a variant (official or otherwise) in order to play it with just the two of us.
**Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this game in exchange for an honest review.
An Overview of Crazier Eights: Avalon
Crazier Eights: Avalon is a game designed by James Wallace Gray and is self-published. The box states that it can play 2-3 players and has a 10-20 minute play time.
Setup and gameplay for 2 Players
This game sets up in a simple fashion: you shuffle the cards, flip the top card to start the discard pile, and then deal 7 cards to each player. On your turn a player draws a card and then is able to play a card and to discard a card, in either order. Played cards are either one-time effects (which go to the bottom of the discard pile after use) or they are Assets, which stay in play in front of that player (they have ongoing effects). Discarding a card requires the card to either match the color or number of the card on top of the discard pile.
Play continues around the table until one person has depleted their hand of cards.
I’m a sucker for anything Arthurian, so that immediately drew me in. I really enjoyed the artwork and the names of some of the cards. While there were generic names for a few things (which do fit in thematically), there were also some recognizable characters and places from the Arthurian lore. Any fan of King Arthur will enjoy this aspect of the game, although the artwork can be enjoyed by those who know nothing of King Arthur.
The game is very simple to teach, with a rules explanation taking 60 seconds. This allows you to grab new players into a game without a long, lengthy rules overhead. All exceptions are found on the cards themselves, and those are relatively straightforward in what they allow you to do. A player who has not played Crazy Eights is not at a disadvantage.
I am finding there is a part of me that can appreciate smaller card games like this one and The Fox in the Forest, which take a deck of cards and allows you to do something simple, yet more complex than what you’d get with the standard deck of cards. The essence is simple: draw a card, play a card, discard a card. But the text on the cards, with each one being different in some way, is what elevates this above the simplicity of a card game.
This game has the feel of a Fluxx game combined with a card game, but it is far less chaotic than Fluxx. The goal remains the same throughout, and there is a clear path to get there. There is some randomness in there, but it never feels like you’re winning or losing due to blind luck (which is something I’ve definitely felt while playing a Fluxx game).
While I received a prototype, so final quality may vary, the cards were noticeable getting some wear around the edges after only a few plays. This is something that many gamers are going to want to sleeve to preserve the quality, but I don’t think the box it comes in will hold the sleeved cards. Both of those could easily be fixed by the time this releases.
This game plays just fine as it stands, coming with numbers 11-15 and some cards that have multi-colors without numbers. It really does function as a stand-alone game. However, it always felt like it was an inferior experience to what you’d get with the first set of cards (Crazier Eights: Camelot), which I assume has cards 1-10 and is a larger set of cards. This is 33 cards, there are no wild cards to plan around, and so it just feels like you aren’t getting the full experience. Probably because of the lack of numbers and wilds. The multi-colors are great for discarding, but at the same time it makes this feel too easy since you can match color or number. Also, the player reference cards with the rules show cards from the first set and talks about eights, creating the potential for confusion. So yes, this set is all you’d need to be able to play the game and still enjoy it, but if you have the chance I’d recommend getting both Camelot and Avalon and combining the two into one larger experience.
If you’re looking for a game that does something new or groundbreaking, this isn’t it. This is a great retheming and addition to a traditional game, but it won’t provide an experience that isn’t similar to other games (Crazy Eights, Fluxx, Uno, and more). It doesn’t necessarily need to, as this game is fun the way it is, but not everyone will want a game that is similar to something they already have.
The cards are all unique in the text on there, but that text doesn’t really tie in with the character or location named on the card. This isn’t a deal breaker in any way, but if you are looking for thematic ties between the cards and what they do, you really have to stretch your imagination to make things fit.
Overall, this game fits nicely in a niche category of games: small, portable, fast, easy games with a small footprint. These games are valuable to have in a collection, both because they are great for taking places (such as a restaurant)and perfect to play in those windows of time when you might only have 10-15 minutes to spare. There are many games that can’t even be set up in that amount of time, much less played to completion. And so that is an area where this game shines.
It shares striking similarities with two games in particular, merging the traits from two of them while discarding the random nature of one: Crazy Eights and Fluxx. This makes it a game I’d rather play over either of those, as it offers more than the deck of cards and a bit more stability to win conditions over Fluxx. This isn’t a game I’d pull out on a regular basis, but neither is Fluxx and so it fills that niche nicely in my collection.
If this game didn’t have the Arthurian theme, it probably wouldn’t appeal to me as much. There is not a lot to set this apart from other games, and it doesn’t do anything particularly well or innovative. It is a nice game that doesn’t take long to play and is easy to teach. This is a game I can have my wife toss in her purse when we leave the house, something to play at family get-togethers with gamers of all types, and a game that would function as a filler during a game day. There are many games to choose from which could fill those same needs, making it hard to advocate this over any of those others.
However, if you are a fan of the original Crazy Eights or of King Arthur, this would definitely be worth considering. If the price aligns with the previous set, it’d be an inexpensive addition to your collection. It definitely provides a fun experience while playing it, so long as you don’t mind games where you need to read the card’s text in order to see what it can do. If you wanted to like Fluxx, but hated the random changes it enforced, then you might really enjoy this game.
You may pre-order Crazier Eights: Avalon and find detailed rules and explanations at craziereights.com.
Check out more of our reviews at the following Geeklist and be sure to let me know what you thought of this game.