Games Review – ‘GUBS’ from GameWright Games
Designer: Cole and Alex Medeiros
Art: Israel Woolfolk
Thanks to Coiled Spring Games who provided a review copy of this game.
Guest review by Tony Bellringer
UK Games Expo 2012 had some nice new releases and UK distributor Coiled Spring Games had a nice selection on show. We picked up a copy of the card game (2-6 players age 10+) Gubs for Tony to play with his children and review.
This is, quite simply, a deck of 70 bespoke cards and a small rules pamphlet. The artwork on the cards is great: a whimsical cartoonish fairytale style, which probably won’t be to everyone’s general taste, but fits very well with the theme and feel of the game, and feels to me to be done to a high level of quality for this style of artwork.
The cards are split into seven basic categories: Gubs, Barricades, Events, Hazards, Traps, Tools, and Interrupts, plus a combined Tool/Hazard card type and one Wild Card – more on these later. Each category is very clearly distinguished from the others on the face of the cards by different background colour and the category name clearly displayed in large text (the backs of all cards are identical).
The rules pamphlet is short and to the point, the bulk of it being taken up with an explanation of the effect of each of the cards in the game, though actually the instructional text on the cards is pretty self-explanatory.
A fundamentally very simple game, the idea is to have the most ‘Free’ or ‘Protected’ Gubs on the table in front of you at the end of the game. Having been dealt a hand of three cards and starting with one Gub card on the table in front of you, a turn is simply: a) draw a card from the face-down draw deck (optional, but not two turns in a row); b) do as much as you want with the cards in your hand; and c) discard down to maximum 8 cards remaining in your hand. So the game is all in how the cards work…
‘Gubs’ cards are ultimately how you win the game, and you simply play them face-up in front of you. On its own, it is a ‘Free’ Gub.
You can make a Free Gub ‘Protected’ by playing a card from the ‘Barricade’ category onto it, which will prevent certain potentially nasty things being done to it by other players (the extent of the protection depending on the particular Barricade card used), but Barricades can be removed… ‘Tool’ cards can be played to do various useful things for you.
The nasty things that can happen to the Gubs are contained in the ‘Hazard’ and ‘Trap’ cards. Playing these will allow you to do all sorts of things, again depending on the specific card played, e.g. stealing or discarding from play someone else’s Gub, removing one or more Barricades from other players’ Gubs, or forcing another player to discard their whole hand. ‘Trap’ cards are placed onto Free Gubs to make them not count for scoring at the end of the game.
‘Interrupt’ cards are the only cards that can be played out of turn and are generally a one-off protection to stop something nasty that would otherwise be about to happen to you or your Gubs. The one ‘Wild Card’ in the game can be played as any Hazard, Tool or Interrupt card, but not a Gub, Event or Trap, i.e. it can only be played as a card that has an instant effect.
Finally, the Event cards all contain unique events with particular effects – usually nasty – which take effect immediately they are drawn. Event cards are clearly denoted with a red lightning flash icon on the face. Event cards are also the way the game will end, as three of them are marked with a single letter ‘G’, ‘U’, or ‘B’, and when all three have been revealed the game ends immediately.
Did it work for me?
Generally yes. As you might imagine from the theme and imagery, it’s a very light game – the stated playing time on the box of ‘about 20 minutes’ is pretty accurate, especially once players are familiar with the rules. With that in mind, the game fits quite well into the quick filler category. The stated minimum age of 10 is probably about right too: I played with my children (8, 10, and 11), and they found it a pleasant diversion.
That said, I think there might be a fairly small window to really get children engaged with this game: too young and they would have difficulty getting to grips with how the different cards interact, but much older, and I think many would start to consider the game too ‘childish’ to be playing – some older gamers might indeed find the theme and artwork (good as it is) a little too ‘cute’ for their taste, and I am assuming the game is mainly aimed at the children or ‘adults playing with children’ market.
It has to be said, there are a lot of good, quick, games out there aimed primarily at the younger market (particularly coming from the well-developed German scene), so this wouldn’t necessarily be a top choice for me or my kids to play, but neither is it a bad game at all: it’s a neat game, plays very quick, and is also very portable (a factor not to be underestimated).
Boardgames in Blighty rating: 7 out of 10
Definitely – a good one to play with a mixed group of younger and older players, with simple rules, quick play time and lots of player interaction. As noted above, possibly not too good for younger children – not just dealing with how the cards work with each other, but also risk of getting too attached to the cute Gubs and taking things personally (there is a fair amount of nasty stuff that can be done to you or your Gubs by other players, e.g. Gubs getting killed by Spear or Disease, or getting stolen from you). A purely adult group might find the theming a bit too ‘cute’ for their liking.
More information: Gamewright webpage for the game
Reviewed by Tony Bellringer (Tulfa on BGG)