Things of No Interest: Review - Spires
Disclaimer: I received a copy of Spires from the publisher as a review copy. I received no other compensation nor consideration and all opinions are my own unless indicated.
From the publisher:
Spires combines hand management, a unique take on trick-taking, and set collection into a 25-minute game. 1-4 Players compete for cards in different markets to try to build out their tableaus.
What's in the box?:
How do you play?
Each player is dealt a hand of five cards and takes three "selection" cards numbered 1-3. In the center of the play area are three markets (also numbered 1-3). One card is dealt to each market (face-up) for the players to see.
Each round, players will secretly select the market from which they wish to compete for the card at that market. When all players have selected, the selections are revealed and the fun begins.
- If you were the only player that selected the market, you simply take the card and place it face up in front of you.
- If two or more players selected the same market, they compete for the card by selecting a card from their hand as a bid for the market. Cards matching the suit of the market card are considered "trump", but otherwise, highest card wins the market AND all the cards bid by the players.
After all markets have been settled, cards are replaced in the markets and then players refill their hands to 5 cards. This is the only place that the start player marker matters - the refill happens starting with the player to the left of the marker - during the last hand(s), players may end up with fewer than 5 cards. Once all the cards have been acquired from the markets, players must discard a single card from their hand, and then place the remaining cards from their hand into their stacks of cards.
For each card in a stack of three or less cards, players get 5 points for each. For any stack with more than three cards, players lose a point for each card. There are also three symbols (crown, leaf, dagger) that appear on some cards - the player(s) with the most of each type of symbol (regardless of the stack that the card is in) gets a number of bonus points and the player with the most points has won the game.
Who is this game for / who will like this?
On top of the "guess what everyone else is going to select", there is some tricky hand management and set collection going on. While different from a lot of games, the game is simple enough to quickly pickup for non-gamers and should appeal to gamers and families as well. This is a great filler game to start or end a game night.
Add to this a couple of special cards - there are cards that are simply worth points, which you win and just set aside until the end. There are also cards that allow you to discard cards from the ones in front of you. That crap that your buddy just foisted on you? The discard card you win the next round can let you turn that stack of four cards back into a point scoring stack.
Its fast and furious and with just enough going on that you have to puzzle out both what you want to do and what others are trying to do. Its one of the best new games I've played in a long time and this is a game I'd run out to buy or easily recommend. It is good with three players and outstanding with four players.
My one caveat? I don't think it will work as well with two players. Yes, with two, you reduce the number of markets, but this kind of game plays best when there are more players than markets. With four players, you have a guarantee that two people (minimum) will be contesting a market. This makes a large difference in your approach, because you may not want any of the cards, but know that if you pick one that another player does want, you can dump junk off onto them. This is especially delicious when three or more players choose the same market and only one player really wanted the card there in the first place. Suddenly, nobody wants to gain four or more cards.
So there it is - a great filler game for three and outstanding (filler) game for four players. The play is fast, it is easy to pick up, but has great decisions that need to be made each round of the game.