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NICHE: Hopwood Games. Designed by Andy Hopwood

NICHE is for 2-6 players. To enjoy it 3-4 players at least should be involved. With two players, and due to Covid we have played numerous 2-player games, our scores have been very close most of the time. The only games we have had that weren't close have been when one of us has been dealt a hand of many cards of the same colour. One game, for example, I was dealt 5 Blue cards and Fran was dealt enough cards with similar shapes as mine but different colours, so she could play NO Red No Circles, No Yellow No Squares etc. I couldn't play my Blue cards because the shapes on them matched the shapes she was closing the door on.





The game relies on the cards being well shuffled and players being able to recognise shapes and colours.

Each Turn the first card in play is the flipped top card from the deck and the players are dealt 7 cards each - the remaining deck of cards is left out of the game. In the example game above the flipped card is a BLUE CIRCLE. This means the first player has to lay a card adjacent to it (it doesn't matter where as long as the sides match, edge to edge or long side to long side) but it MAY NOT be any Blue card or any colour card with a Circle.

The Red Square played is acceptable. The next card played has to be played adjacent to the row or column, either end or side, but it cannot be Red or a Square - the No Blue, No Circle rule is no longer in play; the rule is always set by the last card played.

Each time a card is played the player scores points. One point for the card played and one point for every card in the row and/or column - sometimes both - it is played into. The basic rule for placing is that there MAY NOT be a card of the same colour and shape in the column or row you are extending by placing your card.

The example photo above shows that a card has been wrongly played. The Red Triangle could not have been played there if the Blue Circle had been the first card laid or the Blue Triangle couldn't have been legally played had the Red Triangle been the first card played. Either way the two Triangles couldn't be legally played together. 

The two triangles could be legally played next to each other if the cards had been laid differently during play. 

When we read the rules for the first time neither myself nor Fran were impressed. Our first game began as a matter-of-fact,play-by-numbers type of game; Yawn!!!  Then the veil suddenly lifted and we saw potential (actually I didn't really see it, more like it smacked me straight in the face). Then things got interesting, I stopped yawning, and my brain cell began ticking over.

The cards played from your hand should be thoughtfully played, not just pick the first one that doesn't match the last card played. You need to try to play to the cards you hold, as you would in Poker or any reputable card game.

A simple mechanic for a deceivingly delicious card game.


© Chris Baylis 2011-2015