Sunday, July 6, 2008

Board Game Review - Change Horses

Today's review is a game called Change Horses. A better name for it might have been Change Games, because if you play this, there's a good chance that's what you'll want to do.

It had to happen sooner or later - Rio Grande made a game I didn't like. I've enjoyed everything else they've made, and even when I didn't think a game was my cup of tea, I could still see that it was a good game.

Change Horses, on the other hand, falls flat. I can't even say that the rules are bad. It's just that it's not very much fun. It's a little like inventing stuff when you're stoned - it seems brilliant on paper, but fails in execution.

Change Horses seems fairly interesting. You're racing horses, but the goal is to be the owner of the last horse, not the first. If your horse is too far ahead, you can play your wild card (you get two) and switch horses mid-game. You play cards to advance or slow your horses, and the card-playing part is clever and tricky and should be cool. But it's not. Like making a bong out of a weedeater, it seems brilliant until you're actually holding the acetylene torch and the rubber tubing.

You move horses by selecting and playing cards. These cards each show two horses. Everybody plays a card, and then the horses move. If a horse's color is on the board an even number of times, the horse doesn't move, but if the color shows up an odd number of times, the horse moves that far forward. It seems like choosing your card should be critical, and figuring out what your opponents will do should be key. And that amazing lyric about the invisible donkey should have been your ticket to fame and fortune.

Unfortunately, that's not the case - the game isn't as clever as it looks, and nobody wants to hear a remake of Horse With No Name. Mostly, you just want to be the last person to put down a card, because if you are, you pretty much control the whole race. The advanced game has carrot cards, which you can use to bid on turn order, and that actually helps the game a lot by removing the random element of the turn orders, but that just makes this a bidding game. The last player still controls the board, and if the game is almost over, that last player is almost certainly going to win. Also, it turns out that once the THC wears off, paper underpants just aren't marketable.

Even with the bidding, Change Horses just isn't fun. I can see why the game got made - it is clever, and it seems like it ought to be really interesting. I can even see why it got imported, because it's got a lot going for it, in terms of innovative rules. I just don't see why I would play it again, and everyone who has played with me agreed - the best move in Change Horses is to play something else.


Interesting card-playing rules
A sort of second game with bidding (if you play the expert rules)
Neat little plastic horses

It all comes down to playing last
Not fun

I have a migraine setting in (which would explain why I wasn't very funny), so I'm not going to bother with the clever link. It's not out yet anyway.

1 comment:

Allen said...

Quite effective material, lots of thanks for the article.
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