Monday, November 17, 2008

It Came to Pass: A Review

I got a hold of a copy of It Came to Pass this weekend and my wife and I played it a few times. I'm offering this short review as a result. Keep in mind that this is pretty much coming from the perspective of a would-be game designer/self-publisher, so it probably won't be like so called "normal" reviews of games.

First off, I started with the thought that the game was going to be a lot like Uno (I think this was the case because I read, I think on gameboardgeek, that the game was similar to Uno, and the guy who lent me the game also told me it was like Uno). This was a big mistake! I was reading the rules and thinking Uno the whole time. My wife and I had to consciously stop thinking it was going to be like Uno so that we could understand the rules. So we finally got over that and pretty much understood what we were reading. In other words, don't bring in preconceived notions of what the game is going to be like, it will hinder your understanding and perhaps enjoyment (even after learning how to play I was still comparing it to Uno).

Before I opened the tuck box and looked over the rules I read the outside. which can also be found on gameboardgeek:

A heart-pounding, card-slapping game of strategy and fun for Latter-day Saints.

Well, that seemed a little cheesy to me. I got a similar feeling when I read the back:

Get your hand ready, slide to the edge of your seat, and see if you dare to say, "PASS."

So much for first impressions.

The cards felt really nice. They were thick and had a very nice glossy/non-stick surface that made shuffling and dealing easy. (I can't wait to order from GuildofBlades to be able to compare the two.) Overall, the design of the cards was pretty basic. There are six different suits (colors in this case) and each suit contains numbers 2 through 10 and a Charity card and a Desolation card. The game can be played with just these cards (it's the Basic Gameplay). We, of course, didn't play this version. We were in for the "more excitement" that was promised when we were ready to move on and add the Option Cards (again, I got that feeling of chessiness). So basically, the front of the cards contained color and number or words (2 - 9, Charity, & Desolation). The backs of the cards have a nice looking logo, which comes from Mayan culture (the box also explains this). Overall, I thought, "how simple," and "I think I may be able to come up with similar designs."

The rules are explained on 2 "double-sized" cards included in the tuck box. This is another good job of keeping things simple. The rules are clearly explained, in a short and concise manner. It gave me hope that I can do the same with the rules/instructions for my own games. As I looked back over the rules, I noticed that some things are not explained; it's as if they are taken for granted; me, as the reader, should already know what I need to do. I guess that sometimes it's better to not try to explain everything in such great detail. As long as people are somewhat familiar with games in general, then they should be able to understand and play the game without having to read over too much detail. In other words, just include enough for people to play and don't worry about making sure each and every detail is covered in the rules. I guess I've got to find a balance (isn't it that way in everything we do in life?).

The whole object of the game is to build a hand of cards that contains the least amount of points. This is done by drawing and discarding. Here again I was comparing it to and thinking about Uno. In Uno you have to match either number or color, but in this game you can discard whatever card. It doesn't have to match what's already in the discard pile. The Charity card removes the point value of any other cards in your hand of that same color. Therefore, you can actually build a hand consisting of zero points. The Option cards add variation and fun. You definitely want to play with them in.

I give the game a 4 out of 5

I think the game is fun. The rules are simple. As with what others have said (here's a review of the game from boardgamegeek), I think it would be much more fun with 4 or more people. It was fun with my wife, but it didn't last long and we were ready to move on. (Little side-note: the Secret Combination card should probably be removed when playing with only 2 players.) I would bring this out with a larger crowd and would definitely enjoy myself. So, I would recommend it to others, larger groups, as a fun, party-type game.

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