Guillotine Playtest Review by Tom Zunder on 07/07/01
Style: 4 (Classy and well done)
Substance: 4 (Meaty)
An enjoyable, fast and humorous game of executing French aristos! Vive la Revolution!
Author: Paul Peterson
Category: Card Game
Company/Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Comp copy?: no
Playtest Review by Tom Zunder on 07/07/01
Genre tags: Historical Comedy
This game is presented in a box roughly the size of a video cassette, well made and pleasantly illustrated with an aristocrats head sticking out of a basket. The box containes 110 cards, rules, and (depending on which edition you have) either a card filler or card filler that can be swiftly setup as a guillotine. The game is reported as taking 30 minutes to play and is suitable for 12 to adult. The box proudly states that it is 'Easy to learn, fun to play.'
The game is set at the Guillotine in Paris during the Terror of the French Revolution. Players represent rival executioners vying for the best (highest scoring) collection of noble heads over three days of chopping.
Each day (or round) twelve noble cards are lined up for execution in queue leading to the guillotine. The players then take it in turns around the table to execute the noble at the head of the pile and place it in their basket. After three days the player with the highest score of nobles wins. That is the basic play sequence, and very dull it would be were it not for action cards. As part of each players turn they may play an action card. These have a wide variety of effects, most of which involve the order of the nobles changing, nobles tripping forward in line, mass confusion completely reshuffling the line, or various other effects. My favourite is the Marie Antoinette card which brings to poor Austrian aristocrat to the front of the line. You see, even in death, society isn't fair. Nobles are worth different points. You get for a Bishop than a Bad Nun, if you collect all four palace guards you score bonuses. Some action cards reward you if you have collected a lot of military heads, and some nobles are so sad and tragic that you actually lose points for the shame of having executed them.
The game plays nimbly and fast, the cards never complicate the game overly, and as long as you can enjoy the grisly humour of the cards, it is a fast game that does indeed play in about 30 minutes and yet leabes you wanting another game.
One of the greatest charms of the game are the illustrations. Quinton Hoover and Mike Rabe have illustrated in a style that reminds me of Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame. This combined with such lovely themes as 'Fountain of Blood' (extra 2 points) makes for a black humour that is very appealing. Without these illustrations the game would be different, and less family friendly.
Guillotine is easy to learn, it is fun to play, kids as young as nine have played it easily and enjoyed it. Adults of a gaming and non gaming background love it. It is both whimsical and a tiny touch black, leaving a happy sense of enjoyment that makes you want to go round again.
Oh, but I wanted to execute Louis XIVth, not the Piss Boy!