Tuesday, September 13, 2016

OutLawed! (Green Couch Games)

Green Couch Games is one of my favorite game companies, because their games (six so far) are small in nature but large in play value. To see my reviews of some of their other games, click here for Best Treehouse Ever and Fidelitas and here for Rocky Road a la Mode. Today, I am reviewing/previewing their soon to be next game, OutLawed! OutLawed! is a game for 2-4 players, ages 10+. It takes 15 minutes to play and the project will be live on Kickstarter on September 14th. In this game, you and your opponents are trying to fill the job of the recently vacant Deputy position in Bandit Bluff. The person with the highest total value of outlaws in their jail will be the winner. Let's get to set up!
1. Separate the Outlaw decks into four decks according to the suits (Spades, Hearts, Clubs, and Diamonds) on the back of the cards.
2. Give each player one set of cards from any suit. (Note: All cards are the same in each deck.)
3a. If this is your first time playing remove any cards that don't have a badge icon in the lower left corner.
3b. If you are playing with only two-players, remove any cards that don't have the bullets icon in the lower right corner.
Game Play - The game is played over multiple rounds with three phases each round.
1. Claim Phase - Starting with the player with the Deputy Badge card (first player marker) and proceeding clockwise, each player will lay one Outlaw card from their hand face down (This card becomes the Played Outlaw.) and announce out loud which card they are playing (This card becomes the Claimed Outlaw.). During the claiming phase, you do not have to tell the truth.
2. Apprehend Phase - All players simultaneously reveal their Played Outlaw cards and read the bottom of the card to see if they met that outlaws, "Apprehend If" condition. If successful, that Outlaw is placed in your jail. If you do not meet the "Apprehend If" condition, or if you were blocked by another player, the card goes back into your hand to be used in a later round.
3. Pass Phase - Pass the Deputy Badge card clockwise to the next player and begin a new round.

Game End - The game ends when at least one player gets seven Outlaw cards in their Jail (four cards in a Beginner game). Add up the Reward Values on your cards and the highest total is the winner.

OutLawed! is a short game of bluffing, hand management, and reading your opponent. With each Outlaw having a different way of being apprehended, you are relying on your opponents to be able to apprehend your card. "Bandito" Pandito is one of the easier ones to apprehend as you just need one of your opponents to be telling the truth. However, "Stretch" Tannen is one of the harder ones to apprehend as he requires you and all your opponents to lie about who they claimed. Of all the game mechanics out there, bluffing is one of my wife's least favorites. She just doesn't see the benefit/point of lying in a game. It's why Sheriff on Nottingham doesn't see much game time in our household. While I respect her opinion, I don't completely agree with her. You can make bluffing a game mechanic, not feel like you have to lie every turn, and still keep the game fun.

Enough about the mechanics though! The game itself encompasses two hallmarks I have come to expect from Green Couch Games - clever artwork and portable size. Both the theme and character names give a wild west feel to the game, and the artwork has a nice flavor to it. As for the portable size, the game sports a small footprint and short playing time. That means the game won't take up much space on the table, and it will take about fifteen minutes to play. This combination makes the game a good gateway game or filler game, depending on the group and the situation. If you've ever played a Green Couch Games product before, you know you are getting a quality, family game. If you haven't then I encourage you to make this your first one. I guarantee that you'll have so much fun, you'll want the rest of their game library!

This prototype was provided to me for free by Green Couch Games in exchange for an honest review!