small bookshelf edition
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This game is a unique collection game with the added feature of random income compulations. It is a masterpiece. It has within it the smart use of money, collecting and time management. I would think this classic would have been offered by someone. Certainly it is head and shoulders above the flood of card games that are winning rave reviews one year and forgotten in months.
The late Sid Sackson is by far my favorite game designer; each of his games is characterized by a unique elegance, simplicity of rules, and engrossing thought problems. As a kid, on long car trips, I used to find my mind chewing on some idle deduction problem, and playing a Sackson game is the closest thing I experience in adulthood to that kind of mental exercise.
Sleuth has been the family favorite for about 20 years, but Venture is starting to contend for the title. Acquire is justifiably a classic, but either we've started to 'play it out' too much, or perhaps Venture is just more interesting. Venture may be the most intriguing mental challenge of the three.
The rules are quite simple: your playing cards are money, and entitle you to buy corporation cards that are exposed in the middle of the table. If you have a proxy card, you can take an exposed card from the top of one of your opponent's stacks. The cards you're buying come in different colors, and the more expensive the card, the more letters appear on it. When collecting the cards, you have to lay them on top of each other in stacks. No two cards in the same stack can be of the same color, but there must be at least one letter in common on each card in the stack. When scoring rounds occur at random intervals, you get points for the size of your stacks and for the number of letters they have in common.
Adding to the complexity are a few more features. Some of your money cards always carry the same value; others are in 'sets' and multiply in value if matched with others from the same 'set.' So you have the challenge of wondering whether to spend now on a card you want, or wait until later when the cards in your hand may have more buying power. As another wrinkle, you can also pay to 'reorganize' -- to rearrange your stacks for maximum score.
Venture is intriguing because there are so many things to think about. Should you try to buy a large number of cards, trusting that later you can combine them into profitable stacks, or should you target your buying on cards you feel you need, even if it means decreasing your overall spending power by using certain spending cards early? When should you use a money card -- now, or later when it might be worth more? What about your proxies? Should you steal that card from your opponent or save the proxy for later in the game? Should you pay to reorganize your cards to protect one from being stolen?
We've played Venture many many times and each time the process has been the same. Everyone concentrates feverishly in rapt attention even though the rules have been quickly understood (Sleuth has the same effect on players.) At the end, everyone talks excitedly about what they should have done to win. Despite multiple plays, we're all still learning new strategies and perfecting old ones.
Another classic from a recently departed American genius.
Played this card game a bunch of times and each time was more exciting than the last. The best part is taking a corporation with a 'Proxy Fight' card. By doing this it benefits you while making your opponent really upset for stealing his corporation. And it works just as well with two people, which can't be said for some games. An excellent game that is highly recommended!
It is hard to find though. I found mine on eBay, and even then it took me a while to find one. But don't give up hope, you'll find one and won't be disappointed.