Mar 2, 2007

Off with their heads!

'Guillotine', a board/card game review

Ladies and Gentlemen,

King Louis the XVI was neither the worst nor the dumbest of the rulers of France during the 17th and the 18th century. Although one could say that he lacked a certain determination – a fact that may be perceived as an indication of cowardice, he cannot be considered as particularly mean or nasty for his era (let us not forget that the competition in that domain was rather fierce…). On the other hand, the publicity given to some “saucy” details regarding the private life of his wife (the fabled Marie Antoinette), definitely affected Louis’ public image, but then again, no one can sanely claim that the scandals of a queen may be the sole cause of a revolution (unless we’re talking about some amazingly humongous, supergalactic, inter-species-erotic scandals)

This card game is not about the scandals of Marie Antoinette. After all, it is called “Guillotine”, not “Scandals”. On the contrary, it focuses on heads: Initially, as parts of the human anatomy; after a moment in time, as contents of baskets or spike ornaments.

The players (2 to 5) are given the privilege to impersonate for about 30 minutes (the duration of each game) the sensitive souls with the modest hats, those deeply political figures, without the help of which history would not have evolved as rapidly. At last, ‘Guillotine’ pays appropriate homage to the underestimated class of executioners, and portrays them in a time when there services were very much sought after: Revolutionary France.

Gaming purpose focuses on “collecting” the heads of the most famous of nobles, military officials and members of the clergy, or any other rotten supporter of the Ancien RĂ©gime. Of course, the value of each collected head is connected to the reputation of the deceased: The executioner who reaps the iconic head of the King is valued much more highly that another, who only manages to behead a puny piss boy, or a court guard.

Game mechanics are wonderfully simple: the noble cards are arranged in a line, each player collecting the head of the noble at the front. Players can alter the arrangement of the line, by playing specific action cards (such as bribing the guards, rescuing a Noble etc.). The player with the most valuable collection of heads wins. It's that easy. It's luck you need in this game, not wits.

Still, this simplicity adds to the overall enjoyment. It is not only the hilarious artwork of Christopher Rush, Quinton Hoover and Mike Raabe; Guillotine exudes an aura of lightness (in a "let's-all-chop-heads-and-sing-till-we-get-tired" kind of way). Chopping and singing. Or to put more eloquently: chopping as entertainment for the masses.

The game keeps a loose connection with historical events. Players can reap the heads of King Louis, Marie Antoinette, Rovespiere (whose decapitation historically marks the end of “la Grande Terreur”, which partially takes place in the game as well), while other action cards make reference to famous punch lines (let them eat cake) or literary figures (the ‘Scarlet Pimpernel).

Nice game: easy as pie; and funny. "Guaranteed to brake the ice at parties"

Related @ Gnome's Lair: Zombies!!!, Board Games from the SA dimension, free vintage Dwarfstar board games

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  1. Yeah, good game. Local game store has an open copy which we play occasionally to show off the game (and encourage sales). The text on the many of the cards is really funny and worth reading even while one is not playing the game.

    BTW, I'll explain the sig some other time...

  2. Great post voice! Hope you had a nice flight too.

    Jeff, I must admit to agreeing with you once again. A funny game in all respects. Oh, and please do hurry with this explanation of yours. Most intrigued, really...

  3. I will only say this: this game is as camp as row of tents...

  4. Hor Hor Hor...

    you bearded perverted tent-builder. When will you be joining us?


  5. Blue Gnome was a persona I created to be a nemesis to a separate persona of mine, Marcus Vindictus, on the Caesar's Palace BBS I helped to run and administrate back in the mid-80's. He was there to cause trouble and help explain the occasional crashes we had running that BBS software on a C128. Later became an AD&D character and a Champions character, with the same type of personality.

  6. a blue gnome, i'd never have believed it unless i'd seen it, course i'd never have beleived in a disembodied voice either, if it weren't for such a gem of a post

    waves across the room to the blue gnome.....

  7. My bro has this game too! But it isn't that fun when only 2 of us are playing :(

  8. @ you services Master Gnome...

    @ the little agitator behind the pseudonym "ioannis" : "guillotine" provides sophisticated amusement by virtue of having artificially (and vulgarly) mannered qualities. What's wrong with that? However, I must admit. It is not as good as playing "tents", a game which unfortunately hasn't been marketed yet, its existence been relevated only to a handful of the local gaming elite. I do not know more, I am afraid.

  9. Ah, Jeff, uhm.. blue cousin I mean, that was most interesting. BBSs... those were the days. BBSs & AD&D.. bliss...

    Glad you enjoyed the post Mr. Elderly, I'll have the voice fed.

    Munkey, you should really add a couple players more.

    (feeds voice, spanks ioannis)


  10. ....i'll put on the kettle, someone tell us about this "tents" game..

  11. Wish I could, but a)it's ludicrously silly b)it's silly c)it's very copyrighted d) it's NSFW.

  12. ...great i'm at home ... copyrighted... oh well thats another story....


  13. Over a beer perhaps, sometime...

  14. ..okay.... thats a deal..... (opens calendar of the future.. pencils in Tents/Gnome/Beer...)

    there thats a date....

    ..well not a date.. an appointment..

    well not an appointment, it's a....


  15. No, no, it's a beer actually... Btw, will it be Greece or Ireland?

    Mind you, I'm an avid watcher of Air Crash Investigators.