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Antidote

October 2nd, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments

You and some fellow researchers are working in a lab when all the sudden you hear the smattering of glass on the sterile stainless steel floor.  This, it turns out, is a bad thing as said container held the deadly airborne virus, “Compound X”.  It just so happens that your team was working on a number of anti-toxins for “Compound X” but unfortunately, none of you is certain which cure is reliable.  Will YOU deduce and consume the correct antidote before the compound takes its lethal effect?

 

Antidote

Antidote: 2-7 Players, Ages 12+, Average Play Time = 20-30 Minutes

 

Components

The game includes 64 Formula Cards (8 formulas numbered 1-7 and “X”), 8 Syringe Cards, 22 Expansion Cards, 7 Lab Assistant Cards, 3 Kickstarter Edition Bonus Cards, and the Rulebook.

The Expansion Cards include 8 ID Badges, 8 Lab Romance Cards, 3 Clinical Trials, and 3 Placebos.  Including some or all of these cards is purely optional.  To keep the review moving, I’ll opt to leave out the expansions cards during my explanation of the rules in the next part.  Some of these expansion cards DO NOT WORK with two players.

Setup & Gameplay

Firstly, some cards may be returned to the box depending on the number of players.  In a 2-3 player game for example, only 7 of the 8 formulas are used, only the numbers 1-3 are used, and only 3 syringe cards are included in the deck.  Also, the starting hand size may vary (ten cards in a 2-3 player game).  There’s a table in the manual that goes over all of this, so I’ll skip over the specifics.  All of the “X” cards are shuffled face-down and one is selected at random and put back in the box (no one should look at it as it represents the toxin inflicting everyone).  The rest of the cards are shuffled (along with the remaining “X” cards) and dealt to players evenly.  Whoever won the last game goes first (or just choose one at random).

The flow of play is pretty simple in that players will be playing & trading cards until they’re left with only one.  If the number card (potential antidote) they’re left with matches the color of the X card removed during setup, then they’ve successfully cured themselves and score that many points.

On a player’s turn, they may perform ONE of the following three actions:

1. Discard a Card: ALL players must simultaneously discard one card from their hand and place it into their workstation (the area in front of them).  “X” cards are discarded face-down while all other cards are discarded face-up.  It’s important to not cover up cards so that all players can see the cards in play.

2. Trade Research: The active player can do one of two things…A) tell all players to pass a card to the left/right or B) complete a one-to-one trade with another player of their choice.  If no player wants to trade, then the active player can take a different action.

3. Use a Syringe Card: The active player reveals a syringe and then steals another player’s card from either their hand or workstation.  In the case of the former, stealing is done at random.  The stolen card is placed in the active player’s hand while the syringe remains face-up in the other player’s workstation.

 

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Turns continue clockwise until players only have one card left.  The antidote in the box is revealed and players reveal their final card.  If a player’s final card color matches the color of the antidote, they’ll score the number of points listed on the card.  Otherwise, they lose points equal the points listed on the card.  If the last card is not a number card, the player receives -1 points.

Players can either quit here or play a total of three games (keeping track of their points) to determine the ultimate victor.

Editor’s Note: The above doesn’t cover all of the rules found in the manual, but should give you an idea as to how the game is played.

The Review

I’m a sucker for logic games such as these to where you’re trying to deduce what the hidden card is, like in “Clue”.  With that said, I do recommend that players keep a separate sheet of paper handy so that they can see what “X” cards they’ve already seen (unless said players have a photographic memory, of course).  Alternatively, you can use the crude tracker I created, which is both in COLOR and B&W.  Just print, cut, and pass them out…checking off the box next to the compound you’ve seen (just don’t let the other player see).  For folks reading this review on sites like Amazon where links aren’t allowed, head on over to my website and find this review via the “Board Games” tab on the very top.

I have to admit that this game takes some getting used to.  My initial reaction was to hoard as many “X” cards as I could to deprive my opponents of information as to what the actual antidote could be.  The less “X” cards they see, after all, the more they’ll have to rely on everyone’s face-up discards.  After a while I realized that other players may adopt the same strategy, making the idea of trading and using syringes all the more viable and important.  Players can either help each other achieve their goal (or at least, get closer to it) or screw each other in the hopes that they make the best educated guess in the end.  I suppose strategies and attitudes will vary in this regard, depending on the group.

Of course, you can further complicate things by discarding a high-valued card of the color which players collectively suspect is the actual antidote.  This can make the group second-guess themselves if they still have a choice to make.  For this reason, it’s best to play this game over three rounds…otherwise, players may be inclined to be more aggressive in their high-valued discards for bluffing purposes.  After all, who cares if you win the game with only one point IF you’re the only one left standing?  Counting cards and keeping track of who’s seen what gets harder to do the more players you add, so tread carefully when throwing away a high-valued card you could use at the game’s end.

All in all, “Antidote” is pretty fun.  The expansions it includes will add more of a punch to the base game, but I recommend excluding them until you get a feel for the flow of play.  The price of $15-$20 on Amazon (as of 9/16/15) is fair for the content the game offers, which allows me to give it a recommend to folks who enjoy playing light to moderately challenging card games.

Final Verdict: 7/10

Antidote Tracker – Color: http://www.dadsgamingaddiction.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Antidote-Tracker-Color.pdf

Antidote Tracker – B&W: http://www.dadsgamingaddiction.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Antidote-Tracker-BW.pdf

 

  1. October 27th, 2015 at 12:25 | #1

    Thanks for reviewing Antidote! In case anyone is interested, there is also an iOS App for players interested in keeping closer track of X cards they’ve seen. Just search “lab assistant” or “antidote”.