So you want to play The Game—but which one?

The Pandasaurus team has localized more than a few of the award-winning card games published by NSV in Germany. By now, you’ve probably heard of (and hopefully played) The Game -- whether from people joyfully singing its praises or hilariously clarifying its title. This game is packed full of fun in just a single deck of 100 cards. It truly has an audience with every type of person. However, this line of games (pun intended) has grown beyond the original design into three fully-fledged titles. We hope this article helps you discover the perfect version for your playstyle!

The Game | 1-5 players

Let’s begin with the original version of The Game, as its ruleset forms the base for the iterations that followed its publication. Players work together to discard all 100 cards in the deck into four piles - 2 counting up to 100, and 2 counting down to 1. On your turn, choose at least two cards from your hand to discard onto one or more of the discard piles, either ascending or descending from the previously-played card on the pile(s). If you play a card that is exactly 10 away from the top card of the discard pile you’re playing on, you can break the ascending/descending rule. Once the deck is empty and players successfully play all the cards in their hands, they win the game!

The big appeal to this pocket-sized card game is the rush players get when successfully bringing a pile back from the point of no return, by using the 10-away method or by having the perfect plays of sequential cards. Since players aren’t allowed to directly reveal the numbers in their hands, a great deal of trust and strategy is needed to pull off a win! Of course, the rules are so simple and components so minimalist, that it’s easy to just shuffle the cards and play another round -- regardless if you win or lose!

The original edition of the game featured dramatic artwork with red and black tones and skull motifs, immediately setting a tone of urgency and seriousness. The need to work together to overcome the challenges of the game felt absolutely dire. While the gravity is appreciated by some players, others enjoy the more colorful version illustrated by Kwanchai Moriya that is predominantly on shelves today. We asked him to flex his artistic skills by riffing on “the passage of time” as the direction. Each series of 10s has a different illustration -- from the tiniest atoms to bountiful plants to majestic buildings. As players progress through the deck, they will also progress through abstracted accomplishments in our human history.

The Game: Quick & Easy | 2-5 players

In October 2020, we released a new version in this series called The Game: Quick & Easy. While most of the base rules follow the same structure as the original game, Quick & Easy boasts a few important differences--notably that it only has half the cards! By reducing the number of cards in the deck, a complete game plays faster than the original. You will also be deciding between a single ascending and a single descending deck, instead of two piles for each direction.

While reducing your options may present a challenge, designer Steffen Benndorf added a new mechanic that provides more flexibility. The 50 card deck is broken up into five series of cards numbered 1 to 10, each sporting a different color (and playful illustration). Instead of the 10-away rule from the original game, you will be able to match the color of cards in order to break the ascending/descending order.

The Game Night crew at BoardGameGeek enjoyed playing multiple rounds of this game back-to-back on their show. We’re confident you’ll find this version quicker to learn and play, but it’s up to you to decide whether this version is truly easier to beat!

The Game: Face to Face | 2 players
( PRE-ORDER May 19 )

Normally these card games are full-on cooperation -- you win or lose as a team. However, in The Game: Face to Face, your ultimate goal is to be the first to discard all cards of your color. To pull it off, you’ll inevitably have to help your opponent. The base mechanics are familiar, but there are a few tweaks that make it worth adding to your collection.

Each player will take a deck of 60 cards and set two arrow cards in front of them: one counting up to 60, and another counting down to 1. On your turn, you’ll play at least 2 cards from your hand of 6. The twist comes from where you can play them. Of course, your own piles are fair game and follow the normal ascending and descending rules. Exactly once per turn, you can play a card on one of your opponent’s piles, breaking all rules. This ultimately helps them out, as it pushes whatever pile you played on away from its upper limit.

There are two incentives to not using this safety measure. The first being that in a competition, it’s usually not the best strategy to help out your opponent. The second is that, if you play a card on your opponent’s pile, you only draw 2 cards at the end of your turn. If you only play on your own piles, you draw back up to your full range of 6 cards. Since the goal is to be the first to play all your cards, having more cards to play is certainly a good thing.



We hope you discovered a new pocket-sized game to share with your gaming group. It’s so amazing how just the slightest tweak to the rules makes each of these games unique, satisfying, and full of fun strategies!

Tagged with: New Games

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