Tuesday, September 21, 2010

App O' The Mornin': Reiner Knizia's Poison Review

Reiner Knizia’s Poison, a 2005 card game later re-themed as “Baker’s Dozen,” has been given a fairly plain port by Griptonite Games.

The game is solo-only for one player and 4, 5, or 6 AI opponents. Right off the bat Griptonite missed the boat by leaving out multiplayer elements, which are precisely what this game needs to give it some spark. The AI only has a single setting, and that setting is “always choose the right card.”

The game is played around three cauldrons. Each player has a clutch of cards in red, yellow, and blue, each with a number value: 1, 2, 4, 5, or 7. The goal is to shed all your cards to the cauldron by playing on matching colors, without pushing the total number value over 13. If you do exceed 13, then you claim all the cards in that cauldron, earning one point for each card. Since the game is won by the person with the lowest score, you want to avoid taking piles whenever possible.

There is also a green “Poison card” which can be played to any pot. It has a face value of 4, but counts as 2 points when calculating the score.

This is an interesting riff on Hearts and other trick avoidance game, and a has similar strategic element. As he often does with Rummy games, Knizia has taken a familiar theme and put an interesting spin on it. The app version is a competent implementation of the game, but it’s rather short in the feature department. It's certainly a good way to play an interesting game: it just doesn’t play like a $3 app.


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