Yahtzee Hands Down
Due to my busy schedule as of late, I’ve been opting to review some of the cheaper family games that I’ve run across a few times in the store. It turned out that most of them were pretty good games…Monopoly Deal and Scrabble Slam!, just to name a few. Yahtzee and I have never been the best of friends, quite the contrary in fact. If you’ve been following along in my reviews, you’ll know that dice and I don’t always speak the same language. I am pretty sure that dice are prejudiced against Italians named “Vince”, I just haven’t been able to prove it yet.
Yahtzee Hands Down is a card game that tasks players with forming combos, much like you would in the regular game of Yahtzee. Let’s take a quick look at what came in the box and how the game is played before going into the review.
Cards – This is the primary (and only) component that is in the box, besides the manual and combo card guide. There are combo cards, dice cards, chance cards, and the starter card. More on what they do in a minute.
Setup & Gameplay
One of each combo card (six in all) are placed in the middle of the table. If you want a longer game, you can place all twelve cards on the table (there would be two of each combo card). Shuffle the chance cards and dice cards separately and place them in the middle of the table as well. Each player is dealt five dice cards, which they each keep secret. The starting player is chosen at random and given the starter card.
On your turn, you look at the cards in your hand and try to form the combos that are available in the center of the table. A lot of combos will be available initially, but your choices will deminish as the game goes on. If you have a combo, say “Hands Down!” and put your hand face down on the table. If you don’t, discard up to five cards (face up), and draw that many from the dice deck.
Play continues until two players have announced a “Hands Down!” In a two player game, once a “Hands Down!” has been called, the other player has two turns to try and complete a combo. At this point, the hands that were placed face down on the table are revealed, and the highest scoring combo gets to keep that combo card. The runner up gets to draw a chance card, which contains various point values on them. It is possible for a chance card to outscore the points on a combo card, depending on the circumstances.
Those who were involved in scoring take five new cards, and those who didn’t keep their cards. The starter card goes to the next player clockwise and the process repeats until all combo cards have been claimed. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins!
No matter which way I look at it, I’m replacing the luck of the dice with the luck of the cards. There isn’t much strategy involved, as the player who is lucky enough to draw the highest combos first will more than likely see victory at the end of the game. If you are good at paying attention, you can observe what people are discarding in an attempt to calculate how likely particular numbers and colors will come up and discard your own cards accordingly. One rule I neglected to mention was that you don’t have to call “Hands Down!” if you don’t want to, so you can hold out if you think you’ll score a higher combo than with the cards you currently have. In fact, you can call out “Hands Down!” anytime you wish.
By the same token, it would not be fair of me to judge this game by other than what it sets out to do. It proclaims to be a quick family card game that may appeal to players of all ages, and it does exactly that. Both Anthony (16) and Vinnie Jr (11) found the rules to be simple and had no trouble keeping up with gameplay, though Vinnie always has the bad habit of letting his cards show. Anthony ended up winning by a landslide and me only getting two chance cards, with Vinnie somewhere in between. Luck was definately on Anthony’s side that night.
Those going into the game expecting a lot of strategy will be disappointed, but those just wanting some quick, casual fun might take a liking to this game. It would certainly serve well on trips or for when family night isn’t going to be a long one. People who aren’t fans of luck based games may not enjoy this, that is, unless they win of course.
Final Verdict: 5/10