There seems to be a growing trend of taking old/classic games and using them for a foundation in a modern board game. Bruno Cathala did it with 5 Tribes (Mancala) and Kingdomino (Dominoes), while Antoine Bauza did it with Samurai Spirit (Blackjack).
Designer Carlo Bortolini is now joining their ranks with this new game, Memoarrr!, which seeks to use memory match as the foundation for his game. Does Memoarrr! successfully work the idea of memory match in a modern board gaming? It’s time to find out.
Memoarrr! is a memory game for 2-4 players that takes about 15 minutes to play. Memoarrr! plays best at any player count.
Being a family weight game, Memoarrr! is about as easy to learn as you might expect. The deck of cards in Memoarrr! is comprised of 25 cards, each card containing one of 5 different backgrounds and one of 5 different characters. The 25 cards are randomly laid out in a face down grid, and the center card is replaced with the scoring cards.
Each player gets to look at 3 cards before the game begins. The first player then randomly flips over a card. The next player clockwise must then flip over a card that matches either the background or the character on the card the first player flipped.
If they are successful, they stay in the round and the next player must match the background or character of the card that player flipped. If the flipped cards doesn’t match then that player is out of round. This continues around the table until there is only one player left, who grabs the top scoring card.
The cards are then flipped back over and a new round commences. After 7 rounds, the player with the most points wins.
I was pleasantly surprised with Memoarrr. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting that much from a game that uses memory match as its core mechanic. But it works in this game and exceptionally well at that. I think it’s the few twists that the designer added that really helped this game succeed.
First, I liked the fact that the grid doesn’t change throughout the game. Once the round ends, all the cards are flipped back over and remain in place. That means, for those with a solid memory, you can start to build up safe zones where you know what each card contains. This allows the game to get much more strategic as it progresses, provided you can focus.
Then there is the fact that you don’t get to choose which card you match. You have to match the previously flipped card, which usually ends up creating runs of matches by players. As players become more aware of what card is where, they will quickly turn over a matching card and many rounds will have the same cards flipped over in the same sequence.
On the other hand, I do love the look on a players face when we get to the end of a run. All the known water cards have been flipped, so now the next player has to work to find a match.
As a family game, this one is perfect for playing with young ones. The rules explanation is minimal and kids seem to excel at memory games. Perhaps is because they haven’t been multitasking for decades and can focus on one singular thing. But whenever I play with children, they usually seem to destroy me in memory games.
Finally, there are actually some expert rules included with Memoarrr! In the expert variant, most of the cards have a power associated with them. So if you flip a card, you’ll be able to do things like swap cards, stop the next player from flipping a specific card, or even be forced to take another turn. This was a nice little addition for players looking for just a bit more mileage out of the game.
Some family games are going to be games you’ll play with your kids to make them happy, even though you know you’ll be bored to death (any mass market game). Memoarrr! doesn’t fall into this trap and offers gamers an intriguing game that they can easily play with younger players. The rules are intuitive and very simple, and I really liked the artwork, which was actually done by a famous German graffiti artist.
Despite the fun I had with Memoarrr!, I still see this as primarily a family game. While it could be used as a filler game during your game nights, I don’t honestly see that happening. Most gamers aren’t going to be jumping at the chance to play a memory game and it’s probably just a little too long for a filler game. But that’s ok, because Memoarrr! is definitely worth picking up for anyone that wants an accessible game to play with their family.
Final Score: 3.5 Stars – A solid use of the memory match mechanic that will play well with families.
• Probably not going to appeal outside the family game market
• A little too long to act as a filler game