Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Blood of an Englishman (Renegade Game Studios)

Jack and the Beanstalk is a beloved English fairy tale that has been told and retold countless times. Looney Tunes produced a version of it called Jack-Wabbit and the Beanstalk in 1943, and in 1947 Disney had Mickey and the Beanstalk, which contains one of my son's favorite animated characters - Willie the Giant. Recently, Renegade Game Studios released a two-player game with this theme called The Blood of an Englishman. The game is suitable for players age 10+, takes about 30 minutes to play, and retails for $15. In order for Jack to win, he must steal all three treasures (gold, goose, and harp). In order for the giant to win, he must catch Jack.

Setup
1. Shuffle the 50 card Play Deck (36 Beanstalk cards, 8 Giant cards, 6 Treasure cards) and deal out cards face-up to form five Castle Stacks of ten cards each. (Note: Make the stacks fanned, so that you can easily see the titles of all the cards in play.)
2. After dealing the cards, the player playing Jack may select any single card and move it to any position anywhere within the Castle Stacks. (Note: A good opening move is to move the front-most Giant card to the back of a stack.)

Game Play for Jack - Jack always goes first with play alternating between Jack and the Giant. On Jack's turn he makes three moves in one of four ways:
1. From the front of any Castle Stack to the front of any other Castle Stack.
2. From the front of any Castle Stack to the top of Jack's current Beanstalk Stack.
3. From the back of any Castle Stack to the front of the same Castle Stack.
4. From the back of any Castle Stack to the top of Jack's current Beanstalk Stack.

Completing Beanstalk Stacks is done when Jack collects six Beanstalk cards in ascending order, but not necessarily sequential order. Once a Beanstalk Stack has six Beanstalk cards on, Jack may use a move to play a Treasure card from the front or back of a Castle Stack to complete the Beanstalk Stack.

Game Play for the Giant - The Giant has three movement options:
1. Discard any single Beanstalk card from any position in any Castle Stack.
2. Move the front-most four cards in one Castle Stack as a group to the front of another Castle Stack.
3. Make two moves. Each move, he takes the front-most card of any Castle Stack and move it to front of another Castle Stack.

How to Win
The Giant can win three different ways - 1. One of each of the four different Giant cards are adjacent in a single, unbroken group in a single Castle Stack. 2. One of each of the four different Giant cards is at the front of four of the five Castle Stacks. 3. If the Giant discards enough cards that Jack cannot complete his three Beanstalk Stacks.

Jack wins only by completing three Beanstalk Stacks (as described above) with a different Treasure card at the top of each Beanstalk Stack.

Review
The Blood of an Englishman is a beautifully illustrated game of cat and mouse. The Giant only makes one move per turn, but they are powerful and sweeping moves that can mess up Jack's Beanstalk Stack construction or slowly begin to pin Jack in with the Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum cards. Jack on the other hand is deft and nimble, making three moves per turn. He must be wise with those moves though, and not focus only on offense or defense. Instead, he must balance his moves, especially as the cards start to dwindle and the third Beanstalk starts to be built. If he doesn't, he will find himself the Giant's dinner! The game plays quickly and is very fun. It's perfect for a date night or simply a quick two-player game while you're waiting for the rest of the group to arrive. As is the recent trend, Renegade Game Studios once again knocks it out of the park!

This game was provided to me for free by Renegade Game Studios in exchange for an honest review.