Crazier Eights: Camelot – How will it end? Good fun while you try to win or not lose!
Crazier Eights: Camelot is the sequel to Crazier Eights from creator James Gray, this time with a King Arthur theme. The basis of the game is Crazy Eights, but getting rid of your cards isn’t the only way to win; and anyone can lose if they aren’t paying attention. Between discarding to reduce your hand or playing action cards for power-ups and attacks like Dominion, each turn is full of variety and unexpected developments.
Each player’s turn starts by picking up one card from the draw pile. Then they have the option to discard one card, just like Crazy Eights, by matching the top of the discard pile by rank/suit, using an eight, and because it’s Crazier Eights, it can now be a multi-colored card. The other option each turn is to play one card as an action, like Dominion, but this is where it gets more unique: the action cards are either ASSETS or EVENTS, and create an effect that makes the game very interesting.
Assets are long-term action cards played in front of each player and could have an effect every turn. Events are action cards with immediate occurrences that are implemented and then discarded. Both card types have a variety of abilities, sometimes more than one on the same card:
- Attack (forcing others to take additional cards, stealing or destroying their Assets, card switching)
- Utility (changing the draw and/or discard rate, modifying/looking at the draw pile, Asset protection)
- End-game conditions
WINNING THE GAME
How the game ends is the most interesting part of each play, because no one knows how it will happen. There are multiple cards that create end-game conditions based on Assets in play or cards held. Multiple players could lose because of an Asset, or an individual player could win by getting rid of all their cards or by using an Asset, and both could happen in the same game. This keeps everyone on their toes looking for the next turn that changes the game (think Fluxx-lite).
ASSET & EVENT CARDS- BALANCE AND FEATURES
Since this game is driven by a variety of Assets and Event cards, there are further details to cover for a full vetting of their impact:
- Some Assets and Event cards have a strong effect, but they also allow all players access to it or require a penalty on the player using it or could even make that player lose the game. Thoughtful planning is sometimes necessary to pick which cards should be used and which should be discarded. A “great play” can quickly be disastrous after the next “great play” from someone else.
- Eights and multi-colored cards are the easiest to discard but they are also the most useful as action cards, which makes for a hard, strategic decision if you have one.
- Card themes match the action they cause well with good titles and artwork- “Timeshift” grants an extra turn, while “Sleep” costs one. (Strangely, the “Wood Troll” reminds me of Sweetums from the Muppets.)
- My favorite cards are the ones that destroy all of the Asset cards on the table; one is called Armageddon. This always happens unexpectedly, except to the person who played it, of course, and has a large impact for everyone. KAPOW! “Black Hole” destroys one Asset card per turn, but is itself never destroyed; Stephen Hawking would be proud.
- Whenever an Asset or Event gets discarded from use or destruction, it is never placed on the top of the discard pile, so it has no effect on the discarding element, which is a nice touch by the designer to pay attention to the little things.
- The only continuously confusing point within the cards are some that increase how many cards are drawn at the beginning of a turn. It’s unclear if the player still draws the single normal card. We made our own assumption to handle this. Other than that one issue, the rules are very clear. But, there is also some humor in the rules; you are specifically instructed that you can’t make up your own colors after playing a wild eight. Touché!
LEARNING THE GAME
Reading the rules isn’t hard and once you know how to play, teaching the game should only take about 5 minutes or less for adults, with one or two trips around the table for it to really sink in. For kids, it’s a slightly slower learning curve, made easier by hands-on play; the biggest stumbling block might be reading comprehension, which could require additional explanation throughout. But there are benefits as kids get familiar with words like “malevolent” or ask why “Mordred” causes you to lose the game.
Crazier Eights: Camelot is a good game with unique content, while tapping into some of same mechanics and elements other games use with success. It’s easy to learn and teach, quick to play, and fun. I recommend it for kids and adults looking for a game that uses some planning and strategy, but without causing analysis paralysis, and it’s fun enough to avoid frustration, even when losing.
Crazier Eights: Camelot
Play time: 10-30 minutes
Age Range: 13+