I’ve never had much luck organizing games during my lunch time, but I recently gave it another attempt. I needed a game that was easy to learn, played very quickly, and was accessible in terms of theme. I’m pretty sure my boss wouldn’t be interested in playing the role of an elf that hunts vampires in a magical forest made of candy. For the record – I’m totally up for that. The first game I considered was Michael Schact‘s Coloretto, and that may make its way to the office at some point, but I decided to start with No Thanks!
Designed by Thorsten Gimmler, Geschenkt or No Thanks! is a simple card game for 3- 5 players. The version that I own was published by Z-Man Games. A typical game will take you around 20 minutes and play is simple enough for ages 8 and above. The game is highly regarded and made the Spiel des Jahres recommended list in 2005, which is impressive for a little card game.
In the cool little card box, you get a deck of 33 cards and 55 chips. The cards are numbered from 3 to 35. There’s no real art on the cards, just numbers, so you don’t have to explain to any of your coworkers that happen to pass by why you are playing a card game featuring dragons and busty warrior maidens in chain mail bikinis. For the record – I’m totally up for that as well. I like that they used chips and not wooden cubes. The cubes would have served the same purpose, but it’s really great to toss those chips around.
Each player starts the game with 11 chips. The goal is to be the player that collects the fewest points in cards. Each round, a card is revealed and the current player must decide to take the shown card, or give up a chip. This continues around the table until someone either runs out of chips or decides to take the card. That person then turns over a new card and starts the new round. When the deck of cards is depleted, the game is over and players add up their cards, subtract the number of chips they have, and the player with the lowest total wins.
There are two rules that in tandem make this a brilliant design.
- The chips accumulate with the card and when a player takes the card, they also take the chips with it.
- If you have an unbroken sequence of cards, then you only score the lowest card in the series. For example, if I had a 24, 25, 26, and 27, then I would only count the 24 for points. Before the start of the game, you remove 9 cards at random, so completing a sequence is never a sure thing.
Because of the sequence rule, if you have the choice of taking a fairly high card that fits into a sequence for you, then you can let the card go around the table a few times to accumulate chips before you take it. For many players, this is their favorite aspect of the game. How far can you push your luck before someone takes that card? Brilliant!
Was it a hit with my coworkers? Yes, but I got the sense that my boss would appreciate something a bit less mathy. There does come a point near the end of the game where you can look at the cards showing and figure out just how much a card is worth in terms of the final score. I think he had a good time, but I bet he would have enjoyed Coloretto even more. I appreciated that it made us talk about something other than work and football.
You can pick up a copy of No Thanks! at your FLGS or from an excellent online retailer like FunAgain.com. Have you tried this game at work? If you do have regular lunch games at your job, what games are the most popular and successful? Let my know by leaving your feedback in the comments below.