Crazier Eights – Camelot: Preview

Fairway always imagined he’d have been a great and honorable knight of the round table. He’d be noble and chivalrous, perhaps a little dashing. Well, after playing Crazier Eights – Camelot, it’s pretty clear that that’s not going to be the case.

Crazier Eights – Camelot is a two- to four-player variation of the standard crazy eights game by designer James Wallace Gray. It’s coming to Kickstarter in October.

Initial Impressions ^

  1. Since the rules are essentially a crazy eights variant, they were simple enough to teach.
  2. The game integrates loads of public domain paintings well into the card art.
  3. Unlike crazy eights, cards can also be played in front of the player which alter the rules for that player and possibly everyone else. This makes the game longer and more complicated than a standard game.

Game play ^

Crazier Eights consists essentially of a single deck of cards.  The designer also provided a few expansion packs of cards which shuffle right into the deck. Generally, cards have a value and a suit as well as a classification as an event or an asset.

Players are initially dealt a hand.  And the standard objective of the game is just like crazy eights: have no cards in your hand.

On your turn, you draw a card from the pile and play cards from your hand by: discarding the card, adding an asset, or playing an event.  On your turn, generally, you will get to play one asset or event and discard one card.

Discarding a card follows the standard crazy eights rule: the discarded card must match either suit or value or be an eight.  In Crazier Eights a number of the cards contain multiple suits and no value.  There’s a huge variety of options for discarding.

When adding an asset, you add the card in front of you.  This provides a permanent effect described on the cards face.  This effect can alter how you discard cards, draw cards, play cards, etc.  It some cases it can introduce new victory or loss conditions.

When playing an event, you essentially “discard” the card and resolve its effect.  The events can let you draw additional cards, remove other players assets, etc.

The game continues until either someone is out of cards, or they’ve met one of the asset-specified win conditions.

On the green ^

Variety.  This game has no shortage of variety of cards. There is a huge amount of art and effects.  The variety of effects can make for some very interesting sets of conditions.

The art.  While Crazier Eights pulls largely from public domain art, it does it in a very thematic way and it’s integrated nicely and consistently on the cards. This is not always an easy task to achieve.

More strategic.  I note some of the issues about the “Crazier” part of this game below, but introducing assets and effects on top of the standard Crazy Eights model does open up the game to more strategic play.  The game definitely introduces a feeling that your choices matter. Many of my games I spent doing dastardly things to my foes… not so honorable but a winning strategy most of the time.

Where it comes up short. ^

No longer short and simple.  Arguably one of the reasons Crazy Eights is popular is that it’s somewhat mindless and easy to play: match color or number, move on.  One of the reasons people hate it is the cards that can force a game to continue essentially forever, especially at lower player counts. Somewhat frustratingly, Crazier Eights removes the first and expands the second.

First, each time you play a card, you’re forced to read a whole bunch of text effects, evaluate all your opponents face up assets, and then still match color and number.  It’s not sufficient just to play from your hand and discard down — although, I suppose that’s a possible strategy.

Second, the rules changing effects tend to extend the game.  In some ways it’s like always having a “Draw four” card at the ready in Crazy Eights.  And at higher player counts, it also means that you might have to contend with other player’s face up effects.  The rules changes has a certain Fluxx-like appeal, but I’m not sure it captures that appeal exactly.

Play time.  For those same reasons, a single game of Crazier Eights can go on for a very long time.

Not playable by young players.  Crazy Eights is nice that even young players, sitting around a table or camp fire, can play. This game introduces too many complex decisions and words for that to be the case.  You could always revert to just ignoring the effects and playing standard crazy eights, though.

In the hole ^

Crazier Eights – Camelot definitely takes the Crazy Eights game and makes it crazier. The nicely integrated art is welcome. And by introducing Fluxx-like rules changes and new sets of powers and effects, Crazier Eights will definitely appeal to fans of Fluxx-like games and to those who enjoy Crazy Eights but want some more strategy.

Crazier Eights is in the hole for one over par. ^

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