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List Price: $29.99
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Experience the thrill of fencing -- board game style!
In this two-player game, tactics, skill, and a little bit of luck will determine the best fencer. Teach yourselves the concepts with the basic game, test yourselves with the standard game, and challenge yourselves with the advanced game. Cards fly back and forth as the fencers attack, and parry.
Who will be bold enough to attack first? Is it possible to win with that initial attack or has your opponent beguiled you into an attack while waiting to mount a parry-riposte?
En Garde is a very dynamic game -- strategically rich, yet easy to learn and play. Three levels of rules are included in the game.
- 2 pewter swordsmen
- 1 Game board featuring a fencing piste
- 25 fencing cards
- 2 glass scoring stones
- Game rules
Average Rating: 4.2 in 10 reviews
En Garde has been around since 1993, and is one of Knizia's better card game fillers. The basic design of this game also lies at the core of David Sirlin's 2011 game, Flash Duel (Second Edition), which has enjoyed considerable independent success over the last year. En Garde as originally conceived by Knizia, is a game about the sport of fencing, and in 2009 it appeared in this great new edition from Gryphon Games that helps give it even more sparkle than the original edition from almost 20 years ago.
The impressive game-play is unlike any other two-player game I've played, in the tug-of-war style battle it offers. Players each place their swordsman - represented by a lovely metal miniature - on the mounted gameboard. Players draw cards from a common deck of cards which contains cards numbered 1 through 5, and play a single card to move their swordsman forwards or backwards. Moving forward the exact distance between you and your opponent is considered an attack which your opponent must parry, otherwise he takes a hit. Players will move back and forth, jostling for position in an attempt to strike the winning blow - an activity which only takes a few minutes.
I don't often see myself praising a Knizia game for theme, but I'm doing it here. Additionally, En Garde is easy to learn, quick to play, and fun. Really, Knizia got almost everything perfect! With the great components of the Gryphon Games edition, I'm very pleased to have this in my collection. If you're looking for a light and clever game with a novel theme and strong bluffing element, you won't be disappointed.
I look for games with really original ideas, but usually just find a familiar plot with a change of illustrations. This game is great because it is totally unlike anything I've seen before. It's one of very few games that made me say, 'Wow, that's clever.' Don't be put off by the fact that play is rather short. Think of it as an aperitif rather than a main dish.
Short games deserve their own special place in a gamer's closet. After all, we don't always have time for a 90 minute Elfenland, or even a 45 minute Carcassonne. So games that play in 20 minutes or less are a special breed: very light, uncomplicated games with not too much brainwork. And sadly, they are rarely well themed, which takes away from replayability. The double whammy is that Reiner Knizia's numbered card games tend to be dry like the riverbeds of Baja California, and so imagine my surprise upon playing this gem of a game.
Production of this simple little game is nearly off the charts. Heavy fencing figures ('meeple' humanoid silouettes, who, strangely enough, both look suspiciously like Count Dracula), a nicely illustrated deck of cards, a beautifully illustrated board depicting a fencing field surrounded by trees, shade, foliage and the like. (Mind you, this game is very pricey for such a light 2-player game, so I suppose you get what you pay for.)
Gameplay is simple enough, play a card, advance you figure. Das' it. If you can add numbers between 1 and 5 together, you can play this game (that means you, Joe Steadman. =) The beauty of the game is its simplicity and remarkable capture of the fencing aesthetic.
The deck of cards is numbered 1-5 with 5 of each card. Players have a hand of 5 cards to choose there action from. When a player plays a card, he advances (or retreats) that many spaces on the fencing ground. Players rush towards each other trying to push the other fencer back. Once a player is within striking distance (5 spaces or less) the player has an additional option: make a strike at the other player. At this point he may play more than one card. For example, if he is 3 spaces from his opponent, he may play any number of '3' cards to attack. Then the attacked player has an opportunity to parry by playing the same number of '3' cards. At this point, the parrying player may also counter attack. The key here is that since there are only five of each number, having three of a number guarantees a hit from that range (sicne your opponent couldn not parry it). But the kicker is that since you hold so many cards of that number, a smart opponent will make sure never to be that many spaces away from you. But as the draw deck evaporates, the players must takes risks, for if no hit is made when the draw deck runs out, then whomever was pushed back the furthest loses. This creates a remarkable tension and bluff as players move inside each others range trying to feel out what cards a player may have.
And when you tire of that way to play, the game includes extra cards that add some spice by introducing one rule change to a match, changing the tactics needed to win!
Amazingly light, and uncharacteristicly thematic, Duell is an excellent 2-player game. I almost feel bad only awarding 4 stars, but the high price point, and the repetitive nature of gameplay mean this game will be great filler for 2-player game nights, but probably not a game to be played every day. But if I am wrong, I'll come back and up the rating, because this game is close to excellence. Elegant, appealing, Duell is a game most people will want to pick up, and by far the best game in the Ravensburger 2-player series.
Quick two-player card games are appealing to me both for the home and office lunchtime games. This one looked good and was worth a try. It does capture the flavor of fencing (a sport I tried in college), which is not so much swashbuckling as it is cautious advances and retiring followed by furious, brief flurries of activity.
Players start with 5 cards from a deck of 25 cards (five each of 1 through 5) and advance on a 23-space track (each starts at the far end of one side). During each turn, a player can play a card to advance or retire that many spaces, board permitting, then restocks his or her hand to 5 cards.
The action starts when you get close enough to your opponent to reach him or her with a card play. Instead of moving forward, if you have a card or cards exactly equal to the number of spaces between you, you can play them and say 'hit'. The opponent must respond with an equal number of cards to parry your attack and then play a card in response, or else they lose the round.
This leads to some interesting bluffing and calculating. Because everybody knows the number and value of cards in the deck, you may have to take some chances (I'm 2 spaces away and have a 2 in my hand--does she have one 2 in her hand, or more? How many 2 cards have been played again?) to win. If the deck runs out without hits, the player furthest from his or her start point wins. There is luck in the initial deal, but clever play and sound thinking will give an advantage to the thoughtful player instead of the heedless one. Bluffers can do very well, too.
There are additional cards that can be drawn before the start of each round that provide some variation in play, such as start with 3 cards only, start 10 cards but don't draw to refill your hand, etc. These make for interesting play. The only drawback to the game is that it is somewhat repetitive. My 11-year old daughter and I are the primary players, and the game is good for one 30-minute full round or so, but not often two back-to-back. We both think the game would excel as a tournament, though. Well worth your money if you have interest in logical card games!
Fencing with cards. Hmmm, what will they think of next?
En Garde is a clever game that does mimic fencing quite well. The gameplay is simple and fast. Three levels of play are offered; none are difficult.
I got two copies and held a little tournament with a group of gaming buddies. The overall winner took home the extra copy. We played, laughed, groused, and were all done in about 45 minutes (three matches played).
It won't be something you play for days/weeks on end. But it is enjoyable and a good game to start the day off, or end it for that matter.
Nice little game.
You've all been in multiplayer games where someone takes an eternity to finish their turn (even though you are trying to nudge the player along with very diplomatic phrases like, 'Hurry it up, Bozo!'). But, the big dilemma is, what do you do in the interim? Play En Garde, of course! This little charmer goes a long way on style, and miraculously transports you into the elegance of fencing in a simple card play format. Even though there is not a lot of strategic depth, with the advanced rules (which is the only way to play it) the unique play and quick rounds make it a winner.
This is an excellent translation of an intriguing mathematical problem into a cute theme. The theme here does not seem arbitrarily grafted onto the game, and indeed the fencers move backwards and forward along a track, trying to get into position to stab one another, or failing that, trying to push one another back. Even without the mathematical problem, this would be cute and fun.
The players move backwards and forwards according to the number of spaces (1 through 5) written on the cards that they lay down. Thus, the trick in knowing when to 'lunge' (and also, when you can defend yourself) lies in making reasonable calculation of the likelihood of your opponent holding certain cards. In my case, this means keeping a constant count of every card played, and continually updating my estimate of my opponents' holdings. I even worked out a little table for myself in idle moments, a set of rules that basically say: (If I hold one of such card and two have been played, then the chances that my opponent having two of that card are equal to such and such.)
It is my belief that the probabilities in this game are simple enough that one can compute a good strategy with some effort, but my girlfriend is of the view that luck is a bigger factor in this game than I believe. She believes that holding the most '1' cards is critical, and that the person who does wins the vast majority of the time. We have not settled this dispute with empirical data, other than to note that we have played games in which the outcome did not conform to this rule.
The game is small and easily transportable. I have also taught it to people across a language barrier, which is a nice quality while traveling, and a consequence of the simple rules. Well recommended.
Multiple levels of play make it very easy to learn, even for little children. With some imagination you get the feel of a real fencing bout. The instructions in French are not well translated from German but the English ones are fine.
Fast paced, with 3 easy variations, a fun game that kids can easily win. Using numbered cards you move on a fencing mat marked into squares. The cards tell you how many squares you can move. When you reach your opponent, you 'touch' and score a point. Not earth shattering. But a nice diversion on a train, at a hotel, waiting at the doctor's office. Fun and fast.
Design by: Reiner Knizia
Published by: Gryphon Games
2 Players, 20 minutes
Review by: Greg J. Schloesser
I guess it is only natural that a game about fencing would be designed strictly for two players. I'm not very familiar with fencing, but I'm pretty sure most fencing matches involve just two individuals. I guess if there are more participants, it would be a sword fight!
I've been enjoying this little 2-player game since the mid-1990s when it was released by Abacus Spiele in a small card box. The components were very basic, with dice representing the fencers and the field being formed from cards. I played the game so much, the box is now considerably worn. So I'm especially happy that Gryphon Games has released a new, spiffier version.
The card game pits two players in a fencing duel, with each player attempting to be the first player to score five points, with points being scored either by hits or positioning at the end of a round. Players position their pewter swordsman at either end of the twenty-three space board and draw a hand of five cards. The large cards are numbered from 1 - 5, with five of each number. Cards regulate movement, defense and attack. Players alternate playing cards to move and/or attack, drawing cards to replace those played. The idea is to try to position yourself so that you can make an attack.
Movement is simple: play a card and move that many spaces forward (toward your opponent). An attack is also simple: play one or more cards with a value equal to the distance to your opponent. For example: if you are three spaces away from your opponent, you can use cards with a number '3' to make an attack. You can use more than one of the same numbered cards in an attack, and the defender must parry all of them in order to avoid an attack. To successfully parry an attack, your opponent must play an equal number of cards of the same value. If he cannot do this, a hit is scored.
If a player successfully parries an attack, he has a choice. He can either immediately attack his opponent before re-filling his hand of cards (known as a "riposte"), or he can take a normal turn, playing a card to move. In either case, he refills his hand to five cards after his turn.
The Advanced rules allowing a charge attack, wherein a player can play both a movement and one or more attack cards during the same turn. However, the defender can evade this type of attack by simply moving backwards. The advantage of a charge attack, though, is that it usually forces your opponent back if he cannot parry the charge, thereby improving your position on the board. This is important because if the round ends without anyone scoring a 'hit', the player furthest away from their starting position wins the round.
It is important to note that there are three versions of the game: basic, beginner and advanced, with additional rules added with each level. The advanced version is really not that much more involved than the basic version, but it offers more tactics and options. Thus, I always play the advanced version.
The game plays quickly, with most hands taking just a few minutes. In spite of its simplicity, there are numerous decisions to be made and tactics to pursue. Counting cards is a benefit, as one can track which cards have been played, which cards you hold, and play the odds when maneuvering forward and contemplating an attack. Until the deck nears depletion, however, one can never be quite sure which cards an opponent holds, and which are still buried in the deck. So, chances must be taken, but it wise to take calculated risks as opposed to simply recklessly charging ahead.
I usually desire to be aggressive, charging out of the starting block and racing to my opponent's side of the field. That way, if the round ends with the deck expiring, I have a better chance of winning based on my position. However, one must adapt to the cards being held, so sometimes a slower, more cautious approach is wiser. Plan your strategy based on the cards you hold and draw.
En Garde is a fun, fast and engaging two-player game that has stood the test of time, at least in terms of today's game market where games have a short shelf life. It has been around since 1993, and hasn't lost any of its luster. This new, more attractive version makes it even more appealing. Hopefully, the game will find an even wider audience who will get to enjoy the challenge of fencing … without the bruises!