Two Short Reviews

Robin Hood

Designed by Klaus Palesch
Published by Amigo
Reviewed by Mike Siggins

3-5 players
20 minutes

This one starts well but finishes badly, and someone somewhere really needs to come and talk to me about themes. Because this one really doesn't work well at all. What we have is essentially a rummy variant with a couple of clever tweaks. Those tweaks were enough to make me sit up and take notice, as was the fact that this is the latest from the designer of Sticheln and Hattrick. But as good as the first few rounds were, with players laying runs and prials to steal scoring cards, the late game tailed badly in both outings.

The problem is that the game is a simple one with very few real decisions, and that the action mainly happens early on - as the game progresses, you are simply waiting for the right cards that seldom come, or trying unsuccessfully to pull back a clear leader. Okay, but not likely to set sales records amongst hobby gamers.

Don Pepe

Designed by Dominique Ehrhard
Published by Hasbro
Reviewed by Mike Siggins

3-6 players
30 minutes

Occasionally, I get myself into a pickle trying to decide whether a game is good. Don Pepe removes the problem entirely, as this is simple fare, but it's undoubtedly good fun and very quick. It also looks great - typical Hasbro quality packaging.

The theme is guaranteed to please: the neighbourhood gangsters have got together for a big meal to decide who gets to carve up the ill-gotten gains. Murder ensues at a frightening rate. The boss is accompanied by his henchmen who come in three flavours: gunmen, knifers and plain vanilla thugs. They take their seats, and we are ready to go - actions are triggered by play of a card.

Gunmen (or anyone with a gun on the table in front of them) can shoot the man opposite (there are no saving throws). Knifemen can stab to their left or right. Thugs are powerless unless they find a weapon lying around but are used to claim businesses or are 'volunteered' for the income-doubling accountant's role - easily the most dangerous occupation in the game.

Anyone can change seats (card play again), drug rival gangs (no income while snoozing), call the cops (everyone moves) or order a cake - which of course blows up unless you can pass it on. The explosion surgically removes three gangsters, usually to great amusement - especially when there are two or more cakes circulating.

The boss and businesses bring in money each turn and the aim is to survive long enough to either claim the remaining pot, or at least a share of the action. Decision making comes down to who to kill, and how, and thinking of a valid reason for picking on your best mate.

And that's it. As you'd probably guessed, with a packed table and few spare (safe) chairs, there can be carnage in the first few turns. My only reservation, beyond the fact that this is a beer & pretzels game pure and simple, is that it is an elimination game (never a good feature) and, worse, the end game can occasionally drag. For this reason I would perhaps remove a couple of police raid cards from the deck. Whatever, one can hardly carp at a game that is this much fun - a must for the fans of Wucherer, Family Business and their ilk, and another appealing title from this prolific French designer.

The Game Cabinet - - Ken Tidwell