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America here I come! When you think you've found the winning strategy, the Ohio cards will upset your whole system. A game for card enthusiasts and those who love America.
This game is another of those mathematically clever games from Reiner Knizia--the sort that he and other Germans seem to produce, where the object of the game and how you score points is at odds with the way in which you make progress in the game. Sometimes these games are themed in a clever way and work; at other times the theme breaks down and you are left with a mathematical conundrum. My feeling is that Ohio falls squarely into the latter category.
Each player receives a deck of cards that arc numbered 1-10, together with an Ohio card. Cards are played to win tricks, with the winner of the game being the one who gains the highest total card value in the tricks they have won. A trick is won by the play of the lowest card and begins with a player playing any card. There are no suits and you only need to play a lower card to continue in the round. A pass sees you exit a trick, but those who continue must play lower cards to survive. An Ohio card counts as minus ten points for scoring, but allows the player to continue a round. For example, an Ohio played after a three is a bit lower than a three, but not as low as a two, so a two (or one) could be played in this case. Or another Ohio, which is a bit lower than the previous one. When everyone passes a trick, the winner of the trick is the person who played the last card. The game continues until a player has played his past card. The scoring is mixed up further by subtracting the value of cards left in your hands. Several games are played to ensure that you sleep well that night.
What do I like about this game? Not a great deal, because it boils down to another conundrum game. The highest value cards for points are the weakest cards for trick taking. The theme is completely meaningless--at least it was to me. I normally like systems over themes, but even this was a bit too distant for me to associate with Ohio. Why not Georgia? The game could be an end of eveninger, but there are so many of those to choose from that this one will get lost in the rush. It's also a bit too cerebral for that time of night.