How to Play
The object of the game is to try and get rid of all of your cards.
Shuffle the deck of cards and deal them. The player to the left of the dealer starts the game. The first player must play one’s, the second player two’s, and so on. When thirteen is reached, the number is reset to one. During a player’s turn they play between one and four cards face down and tell the other players how many cards they played.
At any time a player can try to bluff and play cards that don’t match the number they claim they are playing. For example the player can claim that they played three ones when they actually played two ones and a five. If another player thinks the player is bluffing, they can call out the bluff. The cards are flipped over to verify if the player was telling the truth. If the player was telling the truth, the challenger must take all of the cards in the discard pile. If the person was bluffing, the bluffing player takes all of the cards in the discard pile.
When one player plays their last card and no one is able to successfully challenge the card(s) the cards they played, that player wins the game.
A while back we took a look at the game Stone Soup. Stone Soup was a pretty average bluffing card game that relied too much on luck. I bring up Stone Soup because if you have read that review, Hooey should sound very familiar. The two games are virtually the same game with some slight differences in card variety. Hooey tries to do some things differently from Stone Soup but ends up being a worse game.
I think the idea behind Hooey could have made for a good game. The main mechanic in the game is bluffing. Players need to play cards to the discard pile in numerical order. Players can always try to bluff by playing more cards of a number than they actually have. The game is also easy to learn and quick to play so it could have made for a pretty decent filler game.
Having already played Stone Soup, I actually expected that Hooey would be a better game because there was more variety in the cards. While Stone Soup had only seven cards in the order of cards to be played, Hooey has thirteen different cards. I thought the variety would make Hooey a better game but it actually made the game worse. While Stone Soup has some special cards, Hooey has none. Hooey’s deck only includes four of each numbered card. With this setup you could actually play Hooey with a normal deck of cards. While I didn’t think the skip card was very important in Stone Soup, Hooey really misses it. Without skip cards players are regularly forced into bluffing on numbers that they have no cards for.
The biggest problem with the game is that it is a bluffing game that is hard to ever bluff in. I think the only time in the game when you can bluff is early in the game. After everyone plays cards, the numbers tend to get grouped together. Generally all four cards of a number will end up together in either the discard pile or another players’ hand. This creates a problem since it is no longer possible to bluff that number since at least one player will know that you don’t have any cards of that number. There is nothing the player can do to protect themselves either since they have to play a card of the next number. This same issue was present in Stone Soup but it was not as prevalent. First there were skip cards that could get a player out of being forced to bluff a card they didn’t have. Also since there were more than four of each card, it was easier to bluff since the cards wouldn’t get grouped together so quickly.
The bluffing element is also broken since you can’t bluff and play four cards. No one can ever bluff with four cards since the player that holds one of those cards will obviously know you are bluffing. You rarely will be able to bluff with three cards since if one player has two of the cards you are playing, they will know you are lying. Due to these limitations, players generally only play one or two cards on their turn. If they play more than that they likely aren’t bluffing since it is so easy to catch someone bluffing in the game.
Since you can only rarely bluff, there is little to no strategy to the game. The game pretty much comes down to who gets lucky and has their hand match the cards they need to play next. Once you get down to your last card you have a one in thirteen chance at having the number you need to play next. When you play your last card one of the other players will call your bluff and will likely force you into taking all of the cards in the draw pile.
Due to this problem the game could take a lot longer than it should. The game usually becomes a game of passing cards from one player to the next. Someone will get close to getting rid of all of their cards and then they will be forced to bluff. They will be called out on the bluff and will be forced to take all of the cards in the discard pile. This happens over and over until someone gets lucky and ends the game.
The game really needed some mechanic where players had some impact on the number that they have to play on their turn. First skip cards should have been added. The game also needs some way where players could have a choice in what cards they would have to play on their turn. One idea that came to my head was that the current number increases like normal but the player has the choice of being able to play the current number or the number above or below the current number. This would have added more strategy to the game and gave the players some choice in what they wanted to do.
One thing I did like about the game was the components. The cards are nothing special but I did like the artwork. The artwork is kind of charming with each number featuring a cow doing a different activity. While the artwork is nice you could easily play the game with a standard deck of playing cards and it will play no differently.
Due to all of these problems the game is just not that fun. The game becomes an exercise where players just end up playing cards hoping that luck will go their way where the number they must play ends up matching the cards they have in their hand.
I wanted to like Hooey but I just didn’t. While I thought having more variety in the cards would help the game, it just made the game worse. With only four cards of each number it is way too hard to bluff in the game. If you can’t bluff there is nothing to the game since it then becomes a game of who is lucky enough to have their cards match up with the numbers they have to play each turn. It is even worse when you are forced to bluff and another player knows you are bluffing. In this case the player has no way to avoid drawing a lot of cards.
I honestly have a hard time recommending Hooey to anyone. It’s only redeeming qualities is that the artwork is kind of cute, the game is really easy to learn, and at the time of this review the game was very cheap to purchase online. If you are looking for this type of game you would be better off looking at Stone Soup in my opinion since it has less problems than Hooey.