Open Seat Gaming: Kickstarter Preview: Tussie Mussie
Disclaimer: This preview is from a previewer’s copy of the game that was provided by Button Shy Games to Open Seat Gaming, but opinions are our own based on several plays of the game.
Description: Tussie Mussie is a game about flowers - lots and lots of pretty flowers, in pink, red, yellow, purple, and white. Focusing on the "I Split, You Choose" mechanism, you're drafting cards to get the most points possible.
The premise is simple: The first player looks at the first two cards of the deck. Then, they present the cards to the player to their left: one face up, the other face down. The person who is choosing takes one of the cards; if they take the face-down one, it stays face down (but they can look to see what it is). Then, the person who did the dividing keeps the other card.
Why does it matter? Every card has a different flower, and they will have hearts (which are each one victory point) and/or a special ability. The special abilities may be actions (which you take at the end of the drafting phase) or they may be scoring bonuses (+1 point for each red flower; +3 points if you have no hearts, etc).
In a 3-4 player game, each player takes turns offering flowers to the person on their left. When everyone has done so, each player takes turns offering flowers to the person on their right. In a 2 player game, the 2 players will take turns offering and receiving flowers.
The end result is that everyone ends up with a row with four cards, one flower in each column, some of them face up, and some of them face down. Once everyone has four cards, you keep the face-up cards in the top row (the "bouquet") and you pull the face-down cards into a second row, keeping the flowers in their respective columns. This is important because there are some adjacency-based scoring bonuses.
Then, you take any actions, count up any hearts, apply any scoring bonuses, and get your final score. Play 3 rounds, and the highest score is the winner!
Review: I Split, You Choose is a style of game that I've always really enjoyed, but I was never sure just how innovative you could get with it. I (wrongly) assumed that there just wasn't a lot of design space available for it.
Then, when our friends at Button Shy said that they were going to be bringing an I Split, You Choose from Elizabeth Hargrave (the designer of the hit Wingspan, which we'll be reviewing next week), I was all about it. I wanted to see what she did differently, because we hadn't gotten the chance to try out the print and play after this design won the Gen Can't contest last year.
So, first off, the art. I will always take the chance to say how much I really enjoy Beth Sobel's art - and every flower is just so pretty. The art and design is incredibly simple and, if you look at the background designs, you can see that each color has a different pattern. I imagine this is meant to help colorblind players. If vision and color are issues (cause colors do matter for some scoring bonuses), I also imagine it'd be easy to put together a small list of the 18 flowers and what colors they are.
FYI - Tussie Mussie was the Victorian art of making flower bouquets for gifts; each flower has a meaning, and so each card actually has the traditional meaning listed on the bottom. Yay education!
And now, the gameplay. It embodies the core of what "I Split, You Choose" is supposed to be able to do. Here are two cards, make a decision about what you'd like the other player to see, etc. But, even with just a little 18 card deck, there are some tough choices that you need to make. Do I really want you to see that card because I think you'll want it? Or am I bluffing you? I really want both of these cards, but which do I want more, or which will help YOU less?
It was really, really simple to teach. Scott's sister is here this week, and we taught her the game in just a couple of minutes. We played a full game (3 rounds) with her, and you could tell that she "got it" by the end of the first round.
I always appreciate that about many of the Button Shy titles that are out there. Button Shy games are always more than what meets the eye (kind of like Transformers), and Tussie Mussie is just a shining example of that.
Remember how I said that I wrongly assumed that there wasn't a lot of design space in the "I Split, You Choose" realm? Yeah, apparently my imagination just isn't big enough. The really unique thing here is the use of two different rows of cards that impact how you're scoring. It adds another layer of decision making, because you may really want a card, but you need it to be in the keepsake (face-down) row, so you have to keep it hidden. But, the other person may see right through that and take it - oh no!
It works really well at 3 and 4. Sarah and I (unfortunately) didn't get a chance to play at 2, but I will update when we finally get one in. There is also going to be solo play available with the Kickstarter - yes, the I Split, You Choose mechanism in a solo game.
Overall, we adored Tussie Mussie. The game has a familiar core mechanism but puts a really neat twist on the set collection aspect of the game. It's a fabulous little 18 card game that showcases what Elizabeth Hargrave did with Wingspan and and is doing with her future designs. She strives to make games with unique themes that may bring in people who don't typically play board games. I can't wait to see what else she brings to the board gaming world in the future.
Tussie Mussie is, in it's own right, a solid, fun, and unique game that's well worth checking out for yourself. It doesn't take up a lot of table space, it's an easy teach, and can be played anytime, anywhere.
Kickstarter Info: Tussie Mussie is now on Kickstarter! Head on over to the Kickstarter page to check out other reviews and to back it - it's only $10 (+$3 shipping) and it comes with the Flower Shoppe solo expansion.