My small band of gamers and myself are on a bit of a new board game kick right now. We’ve had several nights over the past two weeks that has simply involved us playing a number of small board and card games until we are two tired and delirious to do anything but sleep. Last night was one of those nights.
Among the pile of games to try was a title called “Graverobbers”. I’m a bit of a Halloween and Horror Movie fanatic, so anything along this general theme usually looks like a good time to me. I was excited to pull out the rules and give it a go, setting up the morbid playing surface with glee. What I ended up with though caused a resounding “Huh?” from all of us.
I would like to think that, by now, I am a seasoned rule reading veteran. I have tackled games of all shapes and sizes and come out victorious on the other side. However, when we started reading through these rules I was left with this unfamiliar taste of utter confusion in my mouth.
The rules, though awkward, made sense on the surface. What you were suppose to do wasn’t that hard. Why you were suppose to do it was a whole different story. The strategy of this game made absolutely no sense. We thought we must have missed something in the instructions, so we reread portions of them, trying to figure out what we were missing.
The primary mechanic of this game is playing a card on a grave. There are three types of cards: Bobbies (police), Detectives, and Grave Robbers. If by the time the seventh card is played on a grave the numbers present on the grave robber cards is higher then the accumulation of police and detective cards, then the grave is ransacked, otherwise the grave is saved from desicration. Each person has secret goals as to which graves they want to have ransacked by the end of the game, and which they want spared.
Well, that sounds straight forward enough, right?
Here’s where some of the ‘Huh?’ comes in. The game is over at the end of eight rounds. A round is once each player has had one turn. There are seven graves to play cards on. This left us with confusion. Unless we all started putting cards on the same grave, none of them would get to seven cards before the end of the game. And only once a grave was ransacked could you “Accuse” someone of having the goal of having a ransacked grave, which made a lot more sense to do in the middle of the game, not at the very end.
Lastly, you received points based upon the cards left in your hand at the end of the game, but those points were counter intuitive based upon the state of the graveyard. If the graveyard was predominantly ransacked, you received points for grave robber cards. If the graveyard was predominantly saved, you received points for detectives and police. In either case, you received points for having the very cards left over the were needed to influence the game in that direction. This led us to have none of these points left at the end, which seemed to make this mechanic useless.
Overall this left us with a sense of: “Well, that kinda sucked. What’s next?” I highly doubt we will ever bother pulling this game back out again. It just wasn’t good.
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