Thank you for checking review #37 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: Camelot
Crazier Eights: Camelot is a game designed by James Wallace Gray and is self-published. The box states that it can play 2-4 players and has a 10-30 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 for both this version and my previously-reviewed Avalon version. 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 a lot of 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. This version also contained many more of the “traditional” characters from Arthurian lore: the ones that come first to mind when you mention 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 have found there is a part of me that can appreciate smaller card games like this one (and its Avalon version) 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).
The quality of the final version of the game, in terms of cards, was beyond my expectations. I had mentioned, in my Avalon review, that this was an issue in the prototype but could have been something that would be fixed by the time it was in a final version. I’ve held the final version of both the Camelot and Avalon versions in my hands and, rest assured, they are a great quality that do not demand to be sleeved instantly. However, if you are a compulsive sleever, you will need to get a different box for storing the game as there will not be room.
In my review of Avalon I was disappointed in the lack of numbered cards in that deck, Too many cards were either multi-colored or multi-symboled which made it feel a little too easy at times. This version takes that negative and blows it away, providing a far more solid experience. This is, of course, the set that would be recommended to begin with and the ideal situation is to add Camelot and Avalon together and play using both. While Avalon was able to function on its own, the Camelot version is the superior stand-alone product and will provide the real Crazier Eights experience that one might expect to find.
I had mentioned the theme as a nitpick in my Avalon review, claiming that apart from the name and the artwork that there wasn’t really any real tie between the powers and the cards. Some of them, I felt, required some creative imagining. Well, the designer blew me away by writing a pair of posts where he dove into that topic and demonstrated how the card powers themselves were thematic. Yes, sometimes you still really have to stretch the imagination to make that connection on the fly, but after reading these posts I gladly concede the point to him. The designer did a great job at working to put as much theme as you possibly can onto an Arthurian-version of Crazy Eights.
Read those posts:
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. This quality was strengthened with the play of the Camelot version of the game, solidifying it into the collection alongside Avalon. Ideally, getting them both is the best way to go in order to bring out all of the fun combos and a whole varied spectrum of numbers to take in consideration.
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. Grabbing this by itself is a very inexpensive option, and tossing on the Avalon version as a pairing still makes this a very reasonably-priced game. 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 order Crazier Eights: Camelot 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.