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Store:  Strategy Games, Card Games
Edition:  Guillotine
Theme:  French Revolution
Genre:  Beer & Pretzels
Format:  Card Games


English language edition

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Ages Play Time Players
12+ 30 minutes 2-5

Designer(s): Paul Peterson

Manufacturer(s): Wizards of the Coast

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Product Description

The revolutionary card game where you win by getting a head.

This irreverent and humorous card game takes place during the French Revolution. Players represent rival guillotine operators ving for the best collection of noble heads over three rounds.

Each round, twelve nobles are lined up for the guillotine. The nobles are worth varying points, depending on their notoriety. During your turn, you play action cards to change the order of the line so you can collect the best nobles. The plater with the most points at the end of the game wins.

Will you be skillful enough to bribe the guards to collect Marie Antoinette? Or will you lose points for beheading the Hero of the People?

Heads are going to roll!

Product Information


  • 50 noble cards
  • 60 action cards
  • 1 guillotine
  • rules
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Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.5 in 13 reviews

Simple and Quick Card game with a dark twist
October 02, 2015

In Guillotine at the end of each turn the "Noble" closest to the guillotine loses their head and the player collects it (each "Noble" is worth so many points). A turn consists of these phases:

1. Play 1 action card (this is optional but also allows you to adjust the line-up, giving you the chance to collect a Noble of more value... or play an action to prevent other players from getting what they would want. And possibly play a 2nd action card if the first one allows it)

2. Collect the Noble at the front of the line and add it to your score pile. Then you slide the line down and it's the next person's turn.

You line up 12 Noble's in front of the guillotine and play continues til all 12 heads are gone. That ends Day 1 (round 1) and you add 12 more heads and start Day 2. The game consists of 3 Days (3 rounds) and at the end of the 3rd, the player with the most points wins. Super simple to teach and play. Very quick and fun, and although the theme could be argued I would say that they did a great job at sticking to the theme and making a light game have a strong feel.

I highly enjoy this game and will be giving it out for Christmas since it is so quick and easy to learn/play and quite affordable!!

by Driggs
A good strategy game for two players, a party game for more.
March 02, 2011

My favourite game reviewer, Tom Vasel, wrote in his review that this game is not a strategy game. This is particularly true if you play with more players than two.

However, when played by only two players, this game is a great strategy game. There ARE skills for playing this game that can be learned, and if used, will ensure more victories. Tbat is why I normally win the game against a less experienced (or less "educated") player.

The reasons why the game becomes less strategic with more players are few, but considerable. I have listed some:

1) Fewer points per player
The fact that the game involves the same number of nobles (and their points) to be collected means that each player will average a lower score, actually a third lower than before (33 percent instead of 50). This means that each noble card is much more valuable, given its larger share of the total. If one player has a lucky strike, this element of luck will have a relatively larger impact on the score. In a game of two players this is more likely to even out, as players will have more turns each. A game will not always include the same amount of turns for each player, and the longer the game, the less significant this will be.

2) More opponents, less control per player
In a two-player game there will be an equal number of friendly players (represented by you) and opponents (represented by the one you play with). This will help balance the game; each player has theoretically half of the control. The game is about manipulating the line of soon-to-be-decapitated nobles. Your job will be to snatch the best nobles for yourself, but also (if you can) to leave no easy grabs for your opponent. With only one opponent, this task can often be achieved. Losing a two-player game often results from failing to adhere to these principles. However, with more players, the number of opponents has doubled, tripled or quadrupled, leaving you only a fraction of control. You will find yourself at the whim of their combined actions.

3) Longer reach
This makes far less possible to keep those juicy nobles near the back safe from being snatched. If you're player number 1, and you keep that juicy noble four spaces back, player number 2 will most likely reduce this distance as he collects his noble. This means that a considerably larger amount of cards can be used to snatch the noble, compared to the 2-player game. If an idiot sits left of you, he might pave the way for the next player.

4) Fewer good cards
Also, making sure that others fail is less important with more players, as it is more important for you to gain your own points. With two players, these factors are equally important. A -2 inflicted upon your opponent is worth the same as a +2 in your score pile. With more players, the main focus should be gaining positive points, as reducing the scores of both opponents will prove too time-consuming a task, compared to building your own score. This means that the cards that offer opportunities for personal gain become more valuable, while the rest decrease in value. Cards that boost the value of other cards in your score pile also pay off less, as the cards that power these bonuses are distributed among more players than before. Result: The game balance is further compromised, as luck plays a greater role (as whoever gets the few good cards gains an advantage over those who get normal stuff).

Still a good strategy game for two players:
Having said all this, this is a great two-player game. However, when both players have learned the "tricks of the trade", luck will be the deciding factor. Anyway, mastering all the cards in any situation is a rewarding enterprise. A lot of different situations might appear, due to the various possible combinations of cards. When these cards have been exhausted, the game could turn repetitive. For me, this has not happened.

If an expansion were made, the game could be improved, introducing more possible combinations. Furthermore; with twice or even three times the amount of cards, the game could be extended, somewhat reducing the problem of two few points per player. As far as I know, however, Guillotine will remain a standalone game, so I guess no such expansion will ever emerge. Sadly.

Four stars for the game's quality as a humorous, light, quick strategy game for two players, playable in less than a half-hour. Illustrations are neat, rules are complex enough for medium depth, easy to understand and allow little need for interpretation. The game could easily be played a hundred times, so it's well worth the money.

Simple Game, But Lots of Fun
October 30, 2007

I picked up a copy of Guillotine based on the reviews at and I must say that I am not disappointed.

Each player is a rival guillotine operator who is trying to collect the most valuable heads in the French Revolution.

The artwork on the cards is beautiful and funny. It's true that there is not a whole lot of strategy to the game. But what the game lacks in strategy it makes up in social interaction. In playing a game of Guillotine, there is plenty of room for joking, backstabbing, and trash-talking.

I have played about 15 games with both young adults and teenagers, and everyone seems to enjoy it. In fact, we have even figured out a way to turn it into a drinking game. (Don't worry - no teenagers involved).

My only complaint is that the actual guillotine - which you place at the end of the line of nobles who are about to be beheaded - is a thin, stand-up cardboard prism. It would be so nice if the game were packaged with a 3-D, wooden mini guillotine. But I suppose the price of the game would be much higher. Plus, the truly dedicated fan could make his or her own guillotine!

Twisted Fun
July 28, 2006

We enjoy this game immensely. We prefer card games, but this is different than the usual "variations on a theme" that abound. The illustrations are hilarious, and we find it tickles our slightly off- beat senses of humor. It's easier to play with someone who already knows, but it's not too tough to figure out blind. We also like that it has a definite end; it makes for an enjoyable alternate when we have an evening of cards. And it always surprises the newbies!

A bit of wit while getting ahead
June 24, 2006

Having only recently been introduced to games, this was the first game I bought to try out. Why did I buy it? Quite simply, it sang to me. The humor of the theme is contagious and appeals to everyone I've introduced it to. And the pictures, titles and descriptions smack of this historic period's sense of humor - a bit of good-natured bawd and clever wit. This adds to the enjoyment of the game enormously. It is quick to learn and play, with instructions on the cards providing thorough explanations of variations that might come up. I imagine it is more luck than strategy, but as I am not a particularly skilled gamer this doesn't put me off at all. I enjoy playing it frequently, and I am always looking for similar games – which would seem to me to be the highest mark of compliment. I highly recommend it for either two players or a small group.

Great beer and pretzel game… but a misprint problem
September 04, 2005

Guillotine is great game for those times when you just want to have fun and not have to think too much. We play a lot of games at our house and this is one of our favorite "light" games. One complaint though -- for the new version only -- misprints on some the character cards. We bought two copies of the new version when it came out (one for us since our old version is well used and one as a gift to a family friend). We noticed right away that where plus signs appear on the old cards there are now large square dots (like large decimal points). I have sent an email to Wizards and I am awaiting a reply. I think replacement cards for the misprinted cards should be made available... unless the extra points are now fractions of points (i.e. these really are decimal points... which is doubtful).

You'll lose your head over this great game
August 16, 2005

Sorry for the bad pun in the title of this review, but playing Why Did the Chicken has deluded me into thinking I'm funny.

When I was a new gamer, Guillotine was the first game given to me as a gift. To this day it still provides a lot of entertainment and turns out differently every time.

I like the idea that practically all the nobles will inevitably lose their heads. The whole game revolves around making sure you take care of the ones the crowd hates the most. The action cards offer a lot of unique options, and very seldom is the game decided by luck. Also your strategy depends on the cards you get, so you have to adjust each game.

No other game in my collection plays quite like Guillotine, so that is a big-time plus. I have played it in groups of 2, 3, & 4 and it works great in all those situations.

I highly recommend this game for small group fun. Trust me it is a good game, and the theme isn't too dark (it is presented in a very humorous fashion).

October 10, 2004
This is a fast-paced and exciting game! It's easy to learn or to teach to others. I have shared it with several friends and they love it, also! I can see why it is becoming difficult to find because it is such a fun game! Once you try it, you don't want to stop!
Easy game to learn, fun to play, great for all ages.
September 23, 2004
This game has become a staple at our house for when we have guests over who are not "gamers". This is a great game because the rules are very simple and easy to learn. You lay out a row of cards in front of the guillotine, and then each player gets a few cards. Play begins with one player who takes the card at the head of the line, symbolizing the decapitation of that personality represented on the card. Play then moves to the next player. Strategy is implemented through the use of cards that can modify the line. Think you are getting five points for that head? Think again...that personality is sent to the back of the line; and guess who's head you get now? The next in line happens to be the "piss boy", worth a minus-2 points. So sorry! The game lasts for three rounds, representing days; after which, each player tallies up their heads and the person with the most heads/points wins!
"Smart" regarding both intelligence and wit
September 21, 2004
Guillotine is one of my all-time favorites. It combines an ample amount of strategy with an upbeat pace that keeps my friends and me interested time-after-time. Plus, who can resist a game that finds a way to infuse accurate historical figures with humorous illustrations and instructions? Because each card is entertaining and knowledge of the cards benefits a player's Guillotine strategy, I suggest reading through both the "action" and "noble" decks before playing. After viewing the cards, it is clear how Guillotine's simple rules and inventive cards allow for endless amusement. Enjoy!
by Andy
A personal favorite
September 06, 2004

Guillotine has been one of my favorite games for quite some time, and remains popular among my group of friends (even those that don't play many games). The French Revolution theme and funny illustrations keep everyone entertained even when they aren't winning!

One recommendation: when playing with only two players, remove the Callous Guards card. It seemed that the player with the Guards won every one-on-one game I've ever played (until we started taking it out).

by Rick T
Fine, but a bit overdone
September 05, 2004

Guillotine has an amusing theme which I like. But I find there are too many complicating options that don't really add to the enjoyment of the game.

It's not that it's hard to understand, but in my opinion, many of the cards have a lot of words that overdo the theme without adding to the interest of the game.

Compared to the other games we have, Guillotine a nice game to throw in the mix every now and then, but it's not at the top of the list. However, I must admit daughter does like it and frequently makes it one of her top picks.

Strategic? No. Fun? Yes.
May 05, 2004

The French Revolution was a horrible time, a period of history that I am certainly glad that I did not have to live through. One of the symbols of the time (and many historians call it the symbol) was the guillotine, a new device invented to help expedite executions during this chaotic period. I was perusing a game shop in Korea one day, looking for a game, and the only one on the shelf that I didnt have but could afford was Guillotine (Wizards of the Coast, 1998 - Paul Peterson). I knew nothing about it, and wondered how much it pertained to the French Revolution. I was quite surprised, after purchasing the game, to find that game play was actually about the collection of heads!

And then I felt slightly conflicted. I believe that the theme of a game is extremely important, and can make a game even more fun to play, or vice-versa. At the same time, I wasnt sure if collecting the heads of recently departed nobles was a proper theme for a board game. The game mechanics did nothing to help, as while they worked smoothly, the game was fairly chaotic and players usually had one best choice to make with the cards in their hand. Strategy was almost nonexistent, with only a few tactical choices to make each turn. So, with a controversial theme and mediocre mechanics, the game is expected to bomb - right? But the truth of the matter is, the game made my dime list for both 2002 and 2003 - over ten plays each year! This is certainly not my choice per say, but when I introduced the game to non-gamers, they loved it, and continually asked for more! Apparently the cartoonish artwork, combined with fast, fun play, superceded the theme and the lackluster strategy. I agreed, and while I dont often bring this game to the table, Ill usually gladly play it - once at a time.

Two decks of cards are shuffled - a sixty card Action deck and a fifty-card Noble deck. Five of the action cards are dealt to each player, and twelve of the Noble cards are placed face-up in a line on the table. At one end of the line, a cardboard guillotine is set up (the front of the line), and the remainder of the Nobles are placed in a face-down deck at the other end. One player is randomly chosen to go first, with play passing clockwise around the table.

On a players turn, they MAY play an action first, following the instructions on it. Many of the action cards allow the player to move nobles in the line, while others switch nobles in the line. Some action cards are placed face-up in front of a player, giving that players points, as long as certain conditions are met (i.e. - they have a blue noble, etc.) Still others allow a player to give grief to another player.

After playing an action card, a player collects (a nice word for beheads) the first noble in line - placing it face-up in front of them. Nobles are worth varying amounts of points, with high ranking royalty and clergy being worth up to five points, while martyrs and heroes actually giving the player negative points. Several of the nobles have special text on them, and all of them are in one of five colors - something that is occasionally affected by action cards. After collecting a noble card, the player draws an action card.

When all the nobles in the line have been collected, the day ends. Twelve more nobles are dealt out to start the second day - and following that, the third. After the third day ends, all players add up the points on the nobles they have collected, along with any action card effects - and the player with the highest amount is the winner!

Some comments on the game...

1.) Components: The components are mainly the two decks of cards, with the cardboard guillotine seeming to be thrown in as an afterthought (it holds the cards in the box, so it does serve a duel purpose). The cards themselves are very nice, and have extremely cartooned artwork on them. For such a dark theme, one barely notices it, as the artwork on the cards and boxes has such a humorous effect. The cards are of good quality, and are extremely easy to read - the action cards are very self-explanatory, and we rarely had a question about any of them. Everything fits into a good-sized card box - one with a lid (the best way to do it!).

2.) Rules: The rules, in a nine page little booklet are extremely short - some of the shortest Ive ever seen. Of course, this is because the game is so simple, and I dont think there are many people who would have a hard time with it. It really works well for those who dont have patience for even slightly moderate rules.

3.) Theme: Despite the theme being that of a horrible time period, the game has such a fantasy feel that it could almost be anything else. Players laugh and joke (even my occasionally staid mother) about beheading the bishop, the heretic, Marie Antoinette, the Bad Nun, and the Piss Boy. The quick, chaotic play; the cartooned look of the art, and the smidgen of a theme -all help keep the game light, and fairly non-offensive.

4.) Strategy: If you read online reviews and comments, youll find that there are many who dont like the game. There are remarks about how the game leaves you very few choices, and that strategy is rather limited, and how the game winner is fairly random. All this is true, and if you must have strategy, then go look elsewhere.

5.) Fun Factor: Yet, and I cant explain it, the game exudes an aura of fun. Read the online reviews and comments in favor of the game, and all of them mention the word fun. I dont know why people get such a kick out of the game, but they do. The reason for this is that whenever I introduce the game (usually to a group of casual gamers), the demand is quick to play it again. Is it because people want to behead the Tax Collector, the Archbishop, and the Clown? Well, actually - come to think of it - maybe that is why. Nobody actually dies, and the game is so far from being realistic, that the game just lets people get silly.

Silly. What a good word, I suppose, to wrap up my thoughts on the game. As I said in the beginning, I think that I would rarely be adverse to playing the game. Yet I dont often (if ever) ask to play it. I dont need to, for enough people enjoy the game to ask for it occasionally - and then I might be subject to several playings. Its good, but only in small doses. Yet, for the money I invested in it, I certainly got more than I paid - and people had a lot of fun. And since fun is the main reason I play games, I guess I cant fault Guillotine for that, eh? Chaotic with a smidgen (a very small smidgen) of strategy, Guillotine certainly doesnt test my brain or wits. But I do have fun.

Tom Vasel

Other Resources for Guillotine:

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