Yucata & Members Only

Article by Emanuel Soeding (esoeding@geomar.de).

I tried two of the new Nuernberg games last weekend. Since I thought some people may be interested what they are about, I wrote down some impressions.

The first game was:


2-4 Players, about 20 min.
Published by Hans im Glück.
Designed by Stefan Dorra.

This is a simple tactical game. If it didn't mention S. Dorra on the box, I would have thought it to be a game by Reiner Knizia, since it excludes any luck and has nice and simple mechanics. First, it reminded me a bit of Tutanchamun, but comparing it now, it has many differences. So - what is it all about?

Yucata is played on a board, whith about 40 spaces. Players start with their playing piece at the start. The game is over when the first player reaches the last space. On each space between the start and the end (with the exception of the first five spaces which remain empty) a colored pebble is placed - a blue one or a brown one and a red one on the last space. There are different suggested setups in the rules.

As players move on the track, the first player passing a pebble has to take it. Brown pebbles are positive - blue pebbles are negative. However, the more blue pebbles a player has, the worse they are. The first one counts -1, the second -2, the third -3, and so on. The brown pebbles score one point each. The red one nullifies one blue pebble. So the aim is to get very few blue pebbles and a lot of the brown ones. There are about 25 brown pebbles and 12 blue pebbles in the game (I'm guessing, since I don't have the game here).

How do you move? Each player receives a set of seven cards to move with. The set includes five cards 1 to 5, a questionmark-card and a dagger-card. The game takes place by each player taking his turn by playing a card in clockwise order. Nobody may play the same card the previous player played, except if its his last card. Guess what to to with the numbered cards? Right, you move the number of indicated spaces forward (Nobody can ever move backwards). The questionmark card lets you move the same number of spaces, the previous player did (so if the previous player played 3, you move three spaces when you play a questionmark). The dagger lets you catch up to the first position or moves you one space if you are allready first. When the players played all seven cards, they take their cards back to their hand and start all over again.

Well, these are the rules (and could also serve as a rule summary for someone who has already bought the game), how does the game play? Very well! As you play, of course, you try to move fast when there are brown pebbles to score, and you try to slow down when there are blue ones. Unfortunately, your choice of which card to take gets more and more limited. In this case it really helps to remember which cards the opponent already played and which ones are still in the game. However, it is really hard to memorize all of these, so in my group the game turned out to be an easy and nice game without too much thinking required. It will surely be possible to work out a more tactical gameplay after a few matches. I have played twice so far and my impression was very positive. People who like the Knizia-style games, without luck and with good chances to develop strategies, will surely like this one, too.

The next game I tried was:

Members Only

3-5 players, about 45 min.
Published by Blatz
Designed by Reiner Knizia.

Well, this one is really hard to describe, so I'll make it very brief. Players are dealt cards with symbols. About half of the cards available in the game are dealt to the players. There are five kinds of symbols (colors). The object of Members Only is to guess how many cards of a kind were dealt to all players together. Sounds a bit like Liars Dice/Bluff, doesn't it? Well - it is, but it isn't (confused now?). During the game, players have to play a card, and can place bets like "more than 5 greens", which means the player believes there are more than five green cards in play. Each bet can only be made once. The average probability of each kind of cards is 4.5, so "more than 5" and "less than 4" are the bets which score very little - only 1 point. "more than 8" or "less than 1" count 5 points (as far as I remember). Players have to play cards during their turns so, after a while, it gets more and more clear which prediction for the different kind of cards is more probable and which ones aren't. At last, when the players have only three cards left on their hands, each player has to put one of their cards aside which will not count this round. The remaining cards are revealed and players take a look to see if their bets were successful or not.

Scores are counted in categories according to the colors of the cards, so you may score three green points and two orange points, for example. There is a table on the board to keep track of the bets and the respective scores in categories. The game is played in rounds. One consists of dealing cards to each player, placing bets, playing cards in clockwise order, until scoring. The game is over as soon as there is at least one player in each catagory who has scored at least 5 points. All scores over 4 points are summed up and the player with the highest score wins.

Well - this may all sound very confusing to you. As I said, this game is very hard to explain, and when I read the rules the first time, I had a hard time to imagine how the game should work. To simplify here, I even skipped some special rules. Now that I played it I must say, it works fine. Usually you place some risky bets in the beginning, but predictions become easier later. However, if you place your bets too late, other players may have placed them already, so you have to switch to something else or not bet.

To sum it up I must say - I liked the game, and I'll definitely have to play it again. I'd recommend that you at least play it a few times, since the first game is a little confusing, due to the strange game mechanics.

So long....Ciao Manu

The Game Cabinet - editor@gamecabinet.com - Ken Tidwell