The Game: Face To Face

Marriage is the ultimate co-op. To truly succeed in marriage and parenting you need to be inside your partner’s head as much as possible to support one another and be on the same page. Modern titles like Wavelength and The Game put this mind-meld to the test in cooperative experiences. But sometimes you can get into the head of your partner (or anyone else) for your own benefit.

Enter The Game: Face-To-Face, a two-player variant of The Game that is not cooperative. In The Game: Face-To-Face you are racing against your opponent to discard your entire deck. The Game: Face-To-Face is an exclusively two-player game that borrows heavily from The Game. Reinhard Staupe comes alongside original developer Steffen Benndorf to create this twenty minute duel for ages 8+. It’s freshly published in the USA by Pandasaurus Games.

How to Play

To setup for The Game: Face to Face, each player places their 1 and 60 cards face-up one above the other. Shuffle your deck very well (since sequencing is part of this game) and draw six cards.

Take turns playing cards into the tableau. You must play at least two cards but can play up to your entire hand. Play cards onto the “60” stack in descending order, and onto the “1” stack in ascending order.

Hand holding card 49 over card 43. To the right, a card that has a large 60 and an arrow pointing down to a small 2.
Playing into the descending stack.

Rule of Tens

The only exception to this is the rule of “tens”. If the top card of either stack is ten less (descending stack) or ten more (ascending stack) than a card in your hand, you can play this card.

Playing a 48 on top of a 38
Normally you’d have to play a card lower than 38 here – but with the tens rule, you can play the 48 and give yourself more room for the future.

Chain the rule of tens to play more cards into your stack: If your top card is “38” as before, and you have the “25” and “35” in your hand, play the “25” first, then the “35”, to use two cards instead of one.

Playing on Opponent’s Stacks

Finally, you may play one card per turn into your opponent’s stacks as well, but this card must *help* whichever stack you play it on (a higher number in the descending stack, or vice versa).

You cannot use the rule of tens on your opponent.

Draw New Cards

At the end of your turn, draw two cards. If you put a card on an opponent’s stack, refill your hand to six cards.

The first player to play all of the cards in their deck wins – but if at any time a player cannot play two cards, they immediately lose!

Impressions

The Game: Face to Face has a lot of obvious similarities with its predecessors in both style and mechanics. We enjoyed Face to Face as a wind-down game at the end of a long day.

It’s cerebral deduction, but the mechanics are simple and the math is easy, so it was still relaxing for us to play. Face to Face also has a hefty dose of “Just one more” in it as well. Since it’s such a short game, most unsatisfying losses left us wanting another play.

The Game: Face to Face heavily relies on luck. No matter how good you are, if you’re getting a lot of cards in the 20’s and 30’s at the beginning of the game, it’s hard to be competitive. This isn’t to say there’s no strategy, however. Although sound strategy isn’t guaranteed to beat bad luck, there are certainly tactics that can help.

The Game: Face to Face - hand of cards

Strategy

If your cards are bad, you’re better served to play as many of them as possible. As long as you can play one card on your opponent’s stacks, you’ll be able to refill your hand every turn. This might mean using the only “good” card in your hand on your opponent’s side, so that you can burn through cards and get better variety in the next hand.

Additionally, it’s often helpful to keep one card in your hand that will work well where you are. If you truly run your hand out, you may be left with cards that are completely unusable. You can usually work with one bad card, but two bad ones might be a game-ender.

Because of the variance in how many cards you draw, there is a race element to Face to Face. In our most recent game, the player who lost would have gone out on the very next turn. This is not a game that gives everyone even turns. Run through your cards faster to end the game quicker – but don’t get stuck with a hand you can’t play!

The Game: Face to Face

Final Thoughts

As with the other games in this style, deeply strategic gamers are unlikely to appreciate a game like The Game: Face to Face. For us, it was more of a mental exercise after playing other games; like a palate cleanser before moving on to non-gaming activities.

We struggled to find appeal for The Game: Face to Face with our kids. The hooks weren’t there for our biggest gaming child, and our oldest found the luck of the draw extremely frustrating.

We found The Game: Face to Face to be a more enjoyable experience than The Game, which starts to feel repetitive due to the other games in the same space. At $15, it’s an excellent choice as a simple but engaging duel.

And for us couples, it’s always good to practice being on the same page.

You can order The Game: Face to Face for $14.95 directly from Pandasaurus Games or at your local game store.

The Game: Face to Face

Pandasaurus Games provided The Family Gamers with a promotional copy of The Game: Face to Face for this review.

The Game: Face to Face
  • 5/10
    Art - 5/10
  • 7/10
    Mechanics - 7/10
  • 7/10
    Family Fun - 7/10
6.5/10

Summary

Number of Players: 2

Age Range: 8+

Playtime: 20 minutes

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