For those of you who are not aware BoardGameGeek is probably the largest board game website on the internet. Created back in 2000 the website is basically an encyclopedia of everything board games as it features information on over 100,000 different board games. I bring this up because today I am looking at BoardGameGeek The Card Game. Created as a fundraiser for the site’s 15th anniversary I found it to be pretty meta that there is a card game for a website about board games. If that wasn’t enough metaness the game itself appears as one of the board games inside the game. As a matter of fact it isn’t the only board game based on the website as the first BoardGameGeek was released back in 2009. As a big fan of the website, since it helps me keep track of my vast collection of board games as well as provide valuable information, I was really interested in checking out the card game even though I had no idea what it would be about. BoardGameGeek The Card Game may not be the most original game, but it is an interesting take on your traditional set collecting game.
How to Play BoardGameGeek The Card Game
- Find the END card and set it aside.
- Shuffle all of the other cards.
- Randomly take ten cards from the deck. Shuffle these cards with the END card. Place these eleven cards at the bottom of the deck.
- Deal four cards face down to each player.
- Take the top four cards from the deck and place them face up in the middle of the table. The rest of the deck forms the draw pile.
- Choose which player will start the game.
Playing the Game
A player will begin their turn with the option to perform free trades. Free trades are optional. During a free trade the current player can make an agreement to trade one or more of the cards from their hand for cards in another player’s hand. Players can make any type of trade but both players must agree to it.
After any free trade(s) the player will get to take one of four actions.
Buying A Game
The first action that a player can take is to buy a game. When buying a game a player has two choices. The player first may choose one of the face up cards in the middle of the table and add it to their hand. If the card features the rare gem or favorite icon in the upper right corner the player must discard one of the cards from their hand in order to take the card. The card that is discarded will be placed on the bottom of the draw pile. If a player chooses to take one of the face up cards it will be replaced with the top card from the draw pile.
If the player doesn’t like any of the face up cards they may take the top card from the draw deck and add it to their hand. If a player gets a rare gem or favorite game in this way they do not need to discard a card.
Players may only have up to nine cards in their hand at a time.
Playing or Collecting Games
The objective of the game is to play and collect games which will score you points at the end of the game. For their action the player may play or collect one set of cards.
In order to play games you will need to collect cards of the same category/color. When you have two or more cards of the same category/color you may use your turn to play those games. You will place these cards face up in front of you in a vertical pile (so players can see all of the cards). Adding a favorite game to the corresponding set of card will score you bonus points.
When collecting games you are trying to gather cards of different categories/colors. In order to start a collection you need cards of at least two different categories. You will place these cards in a horizontal pile where all of the cards can been seen. Adding a rare gem card to a collection will score you bonus points.
On a future turn players may add to a played games pile or a collection. In order to add cards you must have two or more cards that can be legally added to the group.
When cards are played in either way they will stay in front of the player for the rest of the game. A card can never be used for two groups of cards as it can either be played or collected but not both.
The final action that a player may take is a math trade. When a math trade is declared all of the players must choose at least one of the cards from their hand. Each player will put their chosen card(s) face down in a pile. The top card from the draw deck is also added to the pile. All of these cards are shuffled together. The player who chose the action will then select one of the cards and add it to their hand. (I am assuming players can choose which card they want instead of randomly picking one as the instructions only say that the player picks a card.) The rest of the cards will be passed to the next player clockwise. Each player will take one card from the pile. If any players added more than one card to the pile it will be passed until each player has taken as many cards as they put into the pile. The extra card will be placed on the bottom of the draw pile.
End of Game and Scoring
The game will end immediately after the End card is drawn. The player will then tally the points they scored from the cards they played. All cards left in the player’s hands are worth zero points.
For groups of games played the player will score points as follows:
- 2 cards – 4 points
- 3 cards – 9 points
- 4 cards – 16 points
- 5 cards – 25 points
- 6 cards – 36 points
- 7 cards – 49 points
- 8 cards – 64 points
- 9 cards – 81 points
- 10 cards – 100 points
If a favorite card was placed in a played games group every card in the group will be worth two additional points.
Players will score points for each collection as follows:
- 2 cards – 3 points
- 3 cards – 6 points
- 4 cards – 10 points
- 5 cards – 15 points
- 6 cards – 21 points
- 7 cards – 28 points
- 8 cards – 36 points
If a rare gem card is added to a collection it will add one additional point for each card in the collection.
The player who scores the most points will win the game. If there is a tie the player who played the most games will win the game. If there is still a tie the tied player with the largest collection will win.
My Thoughts on BoardGameGeek The Card Game
If you have ever played a set collecting game before, which is likely since you are interested in a card game about a board game website, you should already have a pretty good idea of what to expect from BoardGameGeek The Card Game. In a lot of ways the game plays like your typical set collecting game. The gameplay revolves around gathering cards that you will then put into sets to score points. The more cards that you add to a set the more points it will be worth. The player that scores the most points will win the game. As a big fan of set collecting games I was intrigued as I wanted to see what a set collecting game about board games would be like. It may not revolutionize the genre but I found it to be an enjoyable enough game.
In a lot of ways BoardGameGeek The Card Game is like your typical set collecting game, but there are a couple of areas where it differentiates itself. The first and most obvious area where the game differentiates itself is the fact that the game allows you to create two different types of sets. In most set collecting games you are only trying to collect cards of the same type. While this is present in BoardGameGeek The Card Game as well, the game also gives players another way to play cards. In addition to playing sets of cards of the same category players can also create sets where all of the cards belong to different categories. There are other card games that have similar mechanics, but it is more uncommon than collecting cards of the same type. Off the top of my head there are few games that give players the opportunity to collect both.
This is a simple idea but I think it works well for the game. While I like set collecting games the typical game from the genre does rely on quite a bit of luck as you are forced to collect cards of the same type. If you can’t get the right cards you are out of luck. You need to draw the right cards in BoardGameGeek The Card Game as well, but having two different ways to play cards gives players quite a bit more flexibility. You can score points for collecting a lot of cards of the same type or cards of a bunch of different types. This adds some strategy to the game as you try to figure out whether you want to play games or collect them.
For the most part I enjoyed this mechanic. It adds some decision making to the game while not adding much to the game’s difficulty. The one issue I have with it though is that it is considerably more valuable to play games than collect them. While it is easier to collect cards of different types, I don’t think it is so much easier that it offsets these sets being worth considerably less points. With only a couple cards the two types of sets are worth a similar number of points but the difference continues to grow. After only four cards you can add less cards to a played set and still score more points than a collect set. Due to this fact whenever possible you are better off going after games played sets over collecting sets as it will score you more points long term. There are times when you should play cards into collections though especially if you are only able to get cards of different types. This gives you a way to supplement your points while reducing some of the reliance on luck. You will still mostly be trying to collect cards for played games sets as they will likely score you a majority of your points.
The other major difference from your typical set collecting game comes from how you gather cards. A lot of set collecting games rely on you randomly drawing cards. BoardGameGeek The Card Game takes what I will call the Ticket to Ride method where there are face up cards to choose from as well as the top card from the draw pile. Instead of just randomly drawing a card this allows you to choose a card that you can actually utilize. In addition to drawing cards players are also able to trade cards. The free trades are basic trades. The one mechanic that I thought was pretty interesting though were the math trades. The math trades don’t come into play as much as I wish they would, but they give players a way to change up some of the cards in their hand. Players can put cards into the pile and take the same number of cards out of the pile. This is a good way for players to recycle their cards as they can get cards from the other players that they may need. Players will regularly get a card(s) that is better than the one they gave up or at the minimum be able to take their own card back. I found this to be a really interesting idea that works quite well.
The final interesting mechanic in the game is the fact that players will never be truly sure of when the game will end. The game ends when the End card is drawn. At the beginning of the game you will mix it into the final ten cards in the draw deck. Throughout the game the players will only know that the End card is one of the final eleven cards. As the game progresses though this becomes even more unclear. Each card that is discarded will be added to the bottom of the draw pile which makes it even harder to tell when the game will end. You may be surprised that the game ends earlier than you would expect. Judging when the game will end can have a pretty big impact on your final score. All of the cards left in your hand at the end of the game score zero points. Therefore you need to make sure you play all of your most important cards before the game ends. Waiting to play cards can be beneficial as you will be able to play more cards on your turn. You don’t want to wait too long or you will lose out on those points though.
I found BoardGameGeek The Card Game to be a pretty good game but it is not perfect. While the game has some interesting ideas it is at its core a typical set collecting game. This has some positives as it is easy to teach to new players as the mechanics are simple. The game also plays pretty quickly. The problem is that since it is so similar to your typical set collecting game it is not going to appeal to people that don’t like set collecting games. Fans of set collecting games should enjoy it, but there are better set collecting games out there. If you aren’t a big fan of set collecting games you are probably better off picking up one of these better set collecting games.
The other issue with the game is that it relies on quite a bit of luck. The game does some things to reduce the luck, but there is only so much the game could have done. The player that is able to draw the most cards that they need will likely win the game. Being able to score points in two different ways gives you some more options with regards to drawing cards, but some players are still going to benefit from getting more cards they need. Then there are the two special cards, favorites and rare gems. These cards are quite powerful as they can add considerably more points to a set. The cards have an added cost if you take them when they are face up. That cost is usually offset by the additional points that they will score for you. The player that is able to acquire the most special cards and utilize them well is going to have a very good chance at winning the game.
As for the components I would say that they are kind of hit or miss. The game includes quite a few cards featuring many different popular board games. If you ever wanted a tool to randomly choose what board game you should play next you could always use the cards from this game. For the most part I liked the game’s art style. The cards are well designed where you can easily find the information that you need. The cards also feature pictures of each board game as well as some other information about them. The big problem with the cards is that the quality of the printing can be a little off. The colors are not always uniform and there is some other minor printing errors on some of the cards.
Should You Buy BoardGameGeek The Card Game?
Before playing BoardGameGeek The Card Game I didn’t know what to expect as I wondered what you could do with a card game based on a website about board games. It turns out that you can create an interesting little set collecting game. In a lot of ways the game is like your typical set collecting game as you are trying to collect cards of the same type. The game includes an additional mechanic though where you can collect cards of different types. This adds an interesting element to the game giving players more choices and somewhat reducing the luck. The game also introduces some unique ways to acquire cards which helps distinguish it from other set collecting games. With players never knowing for sure when the game is going to end it forces players to make some tough decisions at the end of the game. There is a lot of things to like about the game, but it still plays a lot like your typical set collecting game. This means that the game still relies on quite a bit of luck as the player that gets to draw the most cards that they need will likely win the game.
If you aren’t a big fan of set collecting games I don’t think you will get much out of BoardGameGeek The Card Game. Due to some interesting additions I think fans of set collecting games will enjoy the game . I would recommend that they look into picking up BoardGameGeek The Card Game.