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The Game of Gaming

Review: No Thanks

Posted by Eisley on 16th January 2010

No Thanks is a push-your-luck game for 3 to 5 players.  The game consists purely of a deck of 33 cards and 55 plastic chips and is pleasantly, and appropriately, low in price.

To start the game, each player is given 11 plastic chips.  The cards (numbered from 3 to 35) are shuffled and 9 cards are randomly removed from the game (without anyone seeing which ones).  A card is from the deck turned over (face-up) and the current player chooses whether to take the card or leave it.  If they want to leave the card, they must place one of their chips on the card; but, if the player has no chips, they have no choice and must take the card.  When a player takes a card, they get any chips that are on top of the card too – then, a new card is turned over and the player who took the previous card gets first choice on taking or leaving the new card.

When all the cards have been taken, players calculate their score which is equal to the sum of their cards but any groups of cards that can be placed in numerical order only score the lowest card’s value.  A player also scores -1 for each chip they have too.  For example, a player has the cards 14, 19, 20, 21, 31 and 32 with 5 chips – in this case, the player scores 14 + 19 + 31 – 5 = 59 points.  The player with the fewest points wins.

Overall, No Thanks is a very simple game with few components but it delivers some superbly agonising decisions and some very funny moments as you watch others struggle with their choices.

Whilst simple, there are definitely tactics to the game.  It’s often good to have a card or two so there are other cards you can collect to get more chips but without altering your score too much (if they’re sequential).  Also, if there’s a card you could take to add to one of your sequential groups then you can let it ride for a while and hope it accumulates some chips as other players try to avoid it.  Looking at what cards other player’s have is important too as is managing your stack of chips because without chips you can be forced to take very unhelpful cards.  Of course, you can take cards that you don’t really need but which may stop another player joining two of their groups together which would benefit them greatly.  So, there’re lots of things to think about, plus all these decisions are affected by what cards and chips other players have too.

A single game feels quite short and it felt it worked better by playing several rounds and keep an accumulative score.  This felt more satisfying, but playing a single round is still valid, especially if you don’t have long to play.  Feels like it could have been a great mechanic within a larger board game too.

No Thanks doesn’t seem like it should deliver much on first look but just shows that appearances can be deceiving. 

James.

[Played with 4 players]

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