original German edition
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Average Rating: 3.5 in 4 reviews
What a great little game! Gargon offers a sneaky little twist to the 'hearts' style of trick-taking and offers a compact game you can play during any lunch break.
Basically, players start off with ten cards from a deck consisting of six different magical creatures with different values. The higher the value, the lower the amulet count. There lies the rub; your amulet total at the end of the games dictates victory. The starting player lays down 1 to 3 cards face down in any combination except three of a kind (of color). The next players in line MUST match the card count and ratio, but may use different colors. The last player must match the card count/ratio AND may only use colors already in play. Players then reveal the values of their cards. If no one has played your color, put them into your stockpile. If challenged, the highest value wins, and goes into the winning players stockpile, while everyone elses goes into the discard pile, but they get to draw a card. This continues till no cards are left in the battle field. So playing a high card only nets you...that card! You dont scoop up everyone elses losing card. I must admit upon first reading of the rules, I was unsure of the gameplay, but it becomes crystal clear after one or two hands. Starting player rotates through the group and play continues until one of the draw piles has been exhausted. Scoring is simple. Collect the most of any color (regardless of value) pick-up 10 points. If tied, 5 for each player. Add that to the total number of amulets youve collected in your stockpile. Highest score wins.
Amigo and Rio Grande games have created a visually stunning card game. Oliver Freudenreichs graphics and colors are nothing short of mesmerizing. I cant do justice to explaining Rudiger Dorns gameplay, but suffice to say, it is fast-paced, easy to learn, and offers unique strategies with each play. I give Gargon a rousing five stars for gameplay and design. Pick-up this little 'gem' of a game as soon as possible.
On the advice of the Saturday group, this review is to extol the virtues of a truly great little game. With its art of mythic monsters (fairies, dragons, phoenixes, gargoyles, manticores, and pegasi), this trick-taking game quickly earned high praise from those who played it.
Trick-taking card games are not new. The concept with this one is definitely different, though. There are six suits, each with cards numbered 1-15 with 2 zeroes. Everyone receives a hand of 10 cards. The starting player lays a mix of cards face-down--this can be one card, two cards of one or two types, or three cards of two or three types. You can not play three cards of the same color. After the starting player, the others can choose to play or pass. If you pass, you draw cards equal to the number of cards played from one of two fanned decks in the middle of the table. If you play, you need to match only the mix of cards, not the exact colors, to be involved--with the exception of the last player. If the last player plays, he or she must match colors with cards played by anybody in that round. They can not introduce new colors into the mix.
When everyone is in, the cards are revealed. Cards of like colors do battle, with the higher number winning and the loser(s) being discarded. Play continues until one of the two stacks in the middle of the table is gone.
Scoring follows. First, the players count the number of cards they have in each color. Whoever has the most receives a 10-point bonus card. If two are tied, the receive 5-point cards. Three or more, tough luck.
The numbered cards have any number of amulets underneath the numbers (the 1s, 2s, and 3s have 5-- the 13s, 14s, and 15s have 0). Players then count the number of amulets on the cards that they have won. Anyone who has managed to win a zero card doubles the number of amulets for that color. Scores are the sum of all amulets and bonus cards. It is not impossible to get really high scores.
This one has the look of a real winner. You can choose to play or pass during the card playing phase. There is a certain amount of bluff involved. The scoring mechanism is unique. All in all, I find it hard to criticize this game in any way. It is light fare overall, and just the thing after a few games of Lord of the Rings or [page scan/se=0899/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Princes of Florence. It's worth the time and money--you won't regret it.
Gargon is typical of the card games that come from Germany. German card games tnd to be innovations of older games, with some genuinely novel games coming out periodically, such as Verrater or Schotten-totten. Gargon is an interesting twist on trick-taking games, more innovative than many such games, but still rather short of a classic.
The six suits are identical in value, and the back of each card is color-coded to its suit. In this way each player has an idea of what other players are holding. If a player is the only one currently holding blue cards, it is then an easy choice to play it, as the suit will be unopposed. This innovation dates back at least as far as a game called Scan that came out a number of years ago.
The play of up to three cards is an interesting one, since the lead player can then tailor his strategy to what other players have. As an example, if all other players are reduced to one or two colors in their hand, then play three cards of different colors. No other player will be able to play, and all three cards will then go into your score pile.
The artwork is quite good and the play is rather innovative, so why have I given it only three stars? Simply put, the game just does not rise above its elements. The strategy of the game is rather opaque, making it hard to decide how best to play each hand, or to develop a long-term strategy. While fun to play, it isn't an overly involving experience.
A good game, yes, but not a great game.
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Gargon is a new card game, released at Essen, with some ideas that combine well to give it an original feel.
The card deck consists of 6 suits in different colours and numbered 0-15, with two zero-numbered cards in each suit. A relatively unusual aspect of the game is that the card backs are coloured according to the suit colour, allowing players to determine the number of cards held by each player in their hand. (Other card games I recall with this feature are Janus and Double Double.)
As well as the number, the front of each card shows a number of amulets (scoring points) that players try to collect. Cards numbered 13-15 have no amulets and from there it gradually increases as you go down to the cards numbered 1-3, which have 5. The zeroes have none, but double the value of points scored in that colour.
Each player begins with 10 cards and the game is played over a series of rounds. These are a bit like tricks, but the game is not really a trick taking game, as players can only win cards that they themselves play. The lead player determines the card combinations to be fought over for this round. This can be 1 to 3 cards, which are laid face-down. The only combination not allowed is three cards of the same suit. Other players must either play cards in the same combination or take up to three cards from one of the two draw decks, which are fanned out in the middle of the table so that the colour of each card back can be seen.
Players playing the same combination as the start player do not have to play the same colours and probably won't through choice, but there is a restriction which applies to the last player, who must either pass (and draw cards) or play colours that have already been played by the other players.
When all players have played or drawn cards, the face-down cards are revealed. If you have cards in a colour that no-one else has played, you score these cards and place them in front of you. Often, cards played by the start player will match a colour played by someone else. Battles then follow. These are resolved by comparing the highest card in that colour which has been played by each player. The highest one played in the suit is scored by the person who played it and the other players discard their lower (losing) cards but get a card from one of the fanned out draw decks as compensation. Battles over other matches are then fought out in the same way.
The start player rotates clockwise between each round. When one of the draw decks in the middle is exhausted, the game ends at the conclusion of that round.
In each colour the player who has won most cards gets a 10 point bonus. If it's shared, all the players involved get 5. All points on the cards are counted and doubled for each player who has got a zero in the colour (or possibly quadrupled for two zeroes!)
Everyone I have played this with has enjoyed the game, as there is a lot of involvement in each round. The victory point balance between bonus and card points is good and games are relatively close. I particularly like the card backs being known as this provides extra information with which to make decisions.
The only aspect that I think could be improved is the colouring of the red and purple cards. These are not very easy to distinguish in night lights. (Do publishers consider these things when producing a game?) This is only a minor gripe and if your game sessions need a new feel to your end of evening card game, you will find it difficult to beat Gargon. Highly recommended.