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 £13.24 on Amazon.co.uk

FACE CARDS 
is a 20 minute card game for 3-7 players aged from 10 up, created by one of the major games designers of the past 20 years, Leo Colovini, and published by the World renown RAVENSBURGER.

There are 160 top quality cards made up of 142 Face Cards (hence the name of the game) plus 1 Camera, 7 Photo Albums and 10 Blank cards. The Blank cards are for making your own game cards, just add photo's of whoever's faces you want - make sure you print them on fairly thin paper and use a good spray-on glue so that they will slip neatly into the main deck. The 142 cards are shuffled to make a large draw pile from which 6 or 7 cards are dealt to each player (depending on the number seated round the game table), once this is done give one player the Camera card (I like the rules idea, turn over the top card and whoever the players decide looks most like the character on the card gets the Camera and is the Start player).

This is a fun game of identification, finding  'like-pairs', a little in game play like Pelmonism but with look-alikes rather than identical cards. For example if you find the cards of Sitting Bull and Mona Lisa you might at first not think of them as a pair. But take a closer look and you'll see that they both have long hair with a central parting, their eyes are quite similar in as much as they look knowledgeable/thoughtful, they both have a hint of a smile and they both have prominent noses. George Washington and the Secretary Bird both have white hair, long noses and black eyes. The idea is that the players, in turn have to identify pairs of cards chosen by other players from the cards in their hands. 

Each player secretly selects two cards from their hand that could be deemed as a pair, no matter how tenable the link is, they put one of their chosen cards face down in the centre of the table and one face down in front of them. Now a number of cards are added unseen from the deck to those face down in the centre and the whole lot are shuffled then placed face up so all players can see them. Now all the players flip over the card they left face down in front of them and the ID Parade begins. 

In turn, from the player holding the Camera card, each player selects one card from the centre of the tabel and attempts to match it with one of the cards face up in front of the players. If they make a correct guess then both players keep one card, putting them aside in their Photo Album for scoring at the end of play. If they guess wrong then the cards are put back where they came from, one in the centre one in front of the owning player, obviously players cannot select their own pair. Once all players have had a turn the round is over. There is a situation that does arrive more than you might expect and that is when all players have guessed correctly and of the cards remaining are the pair of the last player then the rules state "If every player guessed correctly and the final player is left with their own pair, they don't score that round." The photographs are all sharp and clear, even those taken from old photos and paintings and the card stock is excellent for a game with this amount of replayability.

We take this to mean that the last player doesn't score in the round, but the rule is ambiguous because it could be read so as the "they" means everyone as in if every player guessed correctly .... they don't score that round. 

The subjects of the photographs are so diverse that the game plays differently depending on the players. Younger players will play it straight and look for the most obvious likenesses whereas players looking more for fun than just to win could play a cryptic game, for example take these four cards; Great Gray Owl, Alexander the Great, Grater and Catherine the Great; cryptically they are all "Great/Grate". The Grater has "black eyes and a closed-mouth smile" as does Catherine the Great, however the Owl also has staring eyes like the Grater, so basically they are all cryptically connected. Okay, the idea of the game is to choose correct pairs and thus score the cards but it's also a lot of fun looking through the cards you are holding and making any kind of connection and hope that at least one of the other players is on the right wavelength as you.

There are some variants as the last few sentences of the Rules sheet, but they make very little difference to the way the game plays and after we tried them, all three - Secret Agents, Improv Talents and Risky Moves - we went back to playing the original game (and our cryptic version), both of which are more fun in our opinion. At just under £15.00 this is not a bad price for game with so much replayability; every game is likely to include different cards from the previous game and even if some of them are the same they are unlikely to end up in the same hand.

 This isn't my friend Ray, but it does look like a friendly Ray.

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015