Note: This preview uses pre-release components and rules. What you see here may be different from the final, published game.
Camelot is under attack and the forces of the noble King Arthur are facing off against the nefarious Sir Mordred. You must choose your side and hope that your knights can bring your people to victory. That’s the theme behind Guile, a Medieval memory card game for 2 players. This new offering to the micro game genre takes about 20 minutes to play and is produced by Terra Nova Games.
Guile will be played over a series of 2-3 rounds. Each round a player must maneuver his influence cards to try and give themselves the most points. After each round, the influence cards are flipped face up and the points are totaled. The player with the most points claims a treasure card. Collect two treasure cards and you will be the victor.
How to Play:
Like most games in the micro game genre (love letter, coup), Guile is easy to learn and quick to play. Once each player has chosen a side and the knights laid out, it’s time to play. Each player is dealt 4 of the 10 influence cards (the other 2 are set aside). They then place a card face down on each of their 4 knights.
The round starts with one of the knights being chosen the knight-errant. Whoever is the controlling player for that knight has two action choices:
1. Look at the facedown influence card
2. Swap that card with any other card (no looking).
After that, the next knight in the circle becomes the knight-errant. After the round marker has moved back to the original knight-errant the center card is flipped and one more round takes place in the same manner.
Once that round is finished the influence cards are flipped over and the scores totaled. Whoever has the most points claims the treasure card. Influence cards are then dealt out again and another round progresses. Once a player has claimed 2 of the treasure cards they are the winner.
I must admit, Guile wasn’t a game that I immediately “got”. I’m not sure what I was expecting on my first play through, but Guile isn’t a game that hits you over the head with excitement. There wasn’t much trash talk or crazy moments during our plays of Guile. It wasn’t until later that I realized that it was because we were both concentrating on what we needed to do.
Guile is a game of memory, bluffing and deception. It’s about messing with your opponent and the “meta-game”. As a micro game with very easy to learn rules, I eventually realized the game is more about reading and messing with your opponent than anything else.
The hard part about Guile is you will often feel like you don’t have enough actions to do what you want to do. You have to use your limited options to make your best guesses and try and read your opponent. Your main action is to swap a card. (the other is to look at a card, but most of the time that will equal a pass). So the meta game begins when you start trying to figure out what cards you opponent has. Did they just pass because they have a good card? Did they swap those cards because it’s a bad one? All those questions will go through your mind as you play.
Guile is a different kind of game, its a game about finding out the information you don’t know. If you are looking for a game where you can simply focus only on what actions you need to take, then you are probably not the right person for Guile. However, if this kind of meta-game (deduction and bluffing) sounds like something you’d enjoy, then you will find a lot to love with Guile. Add in the fact that you can play a game in under 20 minutes when you are just in the mood for something different or some deep thought. I think it would appeal to fans of Chess and other abstract strategy games. A game where the path to victory isn’t always obvious.
I should also note that, while the components aren’t final, I did really enjoy the artwork on the cards. The Kickstarter page has more finalized version and I really like the direction they took the illustrations.
Guile is an interesting game and unlike much else I’ve played. I wasn’t excepting the game to be more about figuring your opponent out than figuring out what to do with your cards. Most card games are about the actions you take but sometimes Guile is about the ones you don’t.
While it might not appeal to everyone, if you enjoy games of bluff, deception and trying to read your opponent, then you will have a great time Guile. The micro game genre has really taken off of late and I think Guile is a good game to fill its unique niche.
If you are interested in checking it out, it’s currently in funding on Kickstarter and scheduled for delivery to backers in October of 2013. You have until Thursday, July 11th to become a backer so head over today.
As always, we don’t post ratings for preview copies as the components and rules may change from the final game. Check back with us after the game is produced for a full review.