Monday, September 27, 2010

Card Game Review - Bhazum

When I was preparing to write this review, I was a little bit torn on which joke to use. My options were to either mock the name of this game, or to do the entire thing 'in character' as Borat. I've decided on a mix of the two, and I may be bouncing back and forth a little.

Bhazum is a game about a city, apparently located somewhere in Turkey, but potentially part of Kazakhstan. Whether or not they export high-quality potassium is unclear. What is clear is that the name of the city sounds an awful lot like a word used by sailors in 1944 to describe breasts. 'Look at the bazooms on that dame,' one sailor would say to another, and then the other sailor would say, 'She is number one prostitute. Very nice!'

In Bhazum, two players compete to gain control of the city. They have cards representing the citizens of this oddly named metropolis, and those citizens vary in political power, taxable income, and the ability to have people killed. There are four councils, and these councils can be influenced by sending your people to sway the council your direction. They do not help you kill people, but they have a ton of political clout, so maybe after you poison some poor bastard's yak milk, the council can sweep it all under the carpet like a third-world version of Teddy Kennedy.

Actually playing Bhazum is fast and easy, maybe like that hot hooker with the nice bazooms (happily, it is not as expensive). You take turns playing a few of the nice citizens of the city, and then they do stuff for you, like call up friends to come to your parties or steal stuff from the other player. If you're lucky, they may persuade the other guy's minions to jump ship to your side, and failing that, they may just make a couple phone calls and put your opponent's people into shallow graves. I'm pretty sure one of them can help you afford a clock radio that will one-up your irritating neighbor. High five!

These abilities are the real high point of Bhazum. A drafting step takes place before the game starts, where you can try to stack your deck with the cards you think will be more helpful once you start. You can then try to bend the game your direction, by having more cards that will kill the other guy's senators or maybe just call the councils so you can control all of Congress at once. These abilities are good for lots of other things, too, from forcing your opponent to discard or stealing his cards to drawing some extra cards for yourself, or even just taxing the piss out of them so you can play a lot more characters to your side.

In the end, all that matters is who has more clout. If you wind up with more political sway, you win. The whole thing takes about fifteen to twenty minutes, which means you can break it out and play a few quick games with the other dumb-ass who showed up thirty minutes late just to find out everyone had already started a game. Plus it's a fun enough game that you might just break it out whenever you want to play a light, quick game with a friend. If your lunch break is only thirty minutes, you can squeeze in a game and still make it back to your desk before you have to acknowledge how pathetic it is that you're a grownup whose lunch is shorter than that of a seventh-grader.

One final note - Small Box Games has really been stepping up in the art department. Bhazum is a very good-looking game. The art fits the theme wonderfully, and the design is slick and attractive. All joking aside, this is one of the better-produced Small Box games. It's a slick game in a pretty package. It's almost worth driving across the country to California, so you can visit Pearl Harbor. And Texas.

[Editor's Note: Many of the non-sequiturs in this review are based on bits from the movie Borat. If you haven't seen Borat, you should. If you have seen it, be grateful I didn't use any of the anti-Semitic or misogynistic bits. I was tempted.]

[One Final, Final Note: I don't have an editor. As if you wouldn't have guessed that on your own.]


2 players

Fast and easy to learn
Neat art fits the theme wonderfully
Plays in less than twenty minutes
Great success

Rather silly name

If you want to pick up Bhazum, or any other game from Small Box Games, you can check them out here:

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