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Friday, May 28, 2010

Review: Triplica - Very Enjoyable Light Family Game


Triplica is a light, but very fun game.  Triplica is not an involved, highly detailed, strategy oriented endeavor.  It would be difficult to classify Triplica as a "euro" type game.  However, it is quite enjoyable if you're looking to play something with kids, need something short, or are playing with non-gamers.  A full game of Triplica lasts about five to ten minutes and is immediately replayable.  As part of this review, I took this game to a number of my non-gamer friends and family to get their reaction.  Universally, they liked it and wanted to play more.

(Full Disclosure: The copy of Triplica that I reviewed was provided to me by Fun Q Games)

The Basics.  Triplica comes with three different variations.  There are two different (though similar) multiplayer versions, as well as a solitaire game.  In the multiplayer game, you lay out a number of cards in the center depending on the number of players.  Each card has three symbols on it.  A second deck, the goal cards, each have one symbol on it.  Each player gets three play cards and one goal card.

From there, you simply try to get three in a row with the symbol on your goal card.  Diagonal or Horizontal is fine.  In the left picture, there's a Triplica of yellow diamonds.  When three in a row of your goal symbol occurs, you yell, "Triplica," reveal your goal card, and grab a new goal.  The first player to meet five goals wins. The interesting part is that each card you play goes right on top of one of the cards already down.  Which means that while you try to build your Triplica, your opponents are doing likewise and may cover up your cards.  Any player can call Triplica whenever their symbol is met - even if another player plays the final card.

This leads to an interesting bit of strategy in this light game.  You can usually figure out what your opponents' goal cards are if you pay attention, but the goals get met so quickly that knowing your opponent's goal doesn't provide much benefit.  However, because any player can build on your cards, it means you want to play the card that contributes the least to other Triplicas.  Since your opponents can call Triplica at any time, you don't want to build up the blue squares if you need green ovals.

Triplica's quick pace contributes significantly to its enjoyability.  There is almost no opportunity for analysis paralysis.  And, because the game is completed so quickly, it leaves everyone clamoring for another go around.  Even my non-gamer friends, who would never suggest a card game to begin with, wanted to play multiple times after the first game.

Components: 5 of 5.  The cards are top notch.  They are about the size of traditional playing cards, making them easy to shuffle.  Moreover, the cards are on good stock with a nice glossy coating.  These cards will stand up to repeated plays and also readily weather abuse from younger children. 

Strategy/Luck Balance: 4 of 5.  Between randomly drawing your goal, and randomly drawing your play cards, there is a significant luck element.  But it is fairly well balanced.  Every card has three symbols which means each player will have nine chances to get their desired symbol into their hand.  Sometimes, the luck isn't with you and you have cards devoid of your goal - but that occurs rarely.  Moreover, there is still a strong strategic element.  For example, I found that it was often better to build my Triplica on the outside cards first and move in, rather than start in the middle.  The middle tended to get covered up before it came back around to my turn. 

Mechanics: 5 of 5.  Triplica's rules are immediately understandable.  It's a very simple game at heart that can be explained very quickly, even to children.  Everyone can start playing right away without a full recitation of arcane situations and special circumstance rules.  The rulebook is well written and straightforward.  And everything becomes apparent after the first round or two of the game. 

Replayability: 3.5 of 5.  The replayability was a little hard to quantify for this game.  I never played it only once.  Each time I brought it out, the group played it at least twice and usually three to five times.  After about five plays in a row, though, everyone was ready to move on. Triplica will be my go to game for family affairs, but it isn't as likely to hit the table when my gamer friends come around. 

Spite: 1 of 5.  The game moves too fast, and cards are far too precious, to waste on throwing spite at opponents.  If you tried, your opponents would simply play over your cards, make their goals faster, and win the game.  It gets a one in this category, though, because there are times when the cards you've drawn into your hand simply don't match your goal card.  In that case, the best thing to do - since you can't help yourself - is play where it messes up potential Triplicas for opponents.

Overall: 4.5 of 5.  I very much enjoyed this game.  It's important to accept this game for what it is: a light, quick, family style game.  From that perspective, Triplica is a fun, durable, and well designed game.  If you're looking for the complexities of a San Juan, or even the plethora of decision-making of a Munchkin, you won't find it here.  However, as a light diversion for families, Triplica excels.  I imagine it would be a wonderful tool to inculcate the younglings into the joy of boardgaming while they are still impressionable. 

You can order it from Boards and Bits here.

As of this writing, Triplica isn't available from FunAgain.
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