LUCA CHIAPPONI for dv Giochi The Golf Card Game: GREEN
GREEN is a card game for 2-4 players but it can be played solo just like the actual game, but without the need to spoil a good walk in the country by smacking a small ball around with a metal ended wooden walking stick.
To be honest I know from experience that GOLF is one of those games that is good to play, especially with a friend or two, and it is a great mental discipline when you are practising on your own.
It also works well as an electronic game, for the PC or console, but like so many other sports it doesn't transcend particularly well to a tabletop game. It's not that there is anything actually wrong with this game but it's very difficult to convey the feeling of the game to a 2D environment. Golf isn't an exciting game in the way soccer, rugby, NFL, tennis and other solo or team games is. It is a game of commitment, skill, mental ability, concentration, dexterity and stamina, none of which can be portrayed by playing a card or two, even if you are playing with friends. Whether you are in a competition, tournament or just playing golf for your own personal entertainment, golf is a solo game; you are always playing to improve your own game you aren't actually playing against other players; ie. there is nothing another player can do (apart from cough, tap his foot, sing etc) to effect or affect your game.
In GREEN, opponents can affect their opponent's games, especially in a four-player game, by their choice of club. The golf ball counters are not allowed to land on the same circle as another golf ball counter. This is where all logic disappears.
Each hole on your course is made up of a number of randomly selected course cards and the Green card. Each of the course cards is separated into three sections by dotted white lines. In the spaces created there may be water (meaning the ball flies into a lake if it should land in that space) or sand (a bunker) or one or more circles, these being the only place in the sector where a ball may land. If all of the circles in a sector contain balls then any ball that should land there lands one sector back.
Play is in clockwise Rounds and players take one of the options available to them each time it is their turn - Draw a Golf Club (take a card from those on display), Hit the Ball - (play a club card from your hand and apply its strike value), or Retire from the hole (take a -1 score hit). You may hold up to 8 club cards in your hand; should you end your turn with above 8 club cards you have to discard down to 8. Before drawing a card you can use Caddie tokens, of which you have a limited supply, to remove all club cards from the display and replace them, pretty standard for most games that allow you to select cards from a face-up display. The club cards show how far the ball is hit (counting sectors) according the current wind factor ( a die is rolled at the beginning of each hole and it is then placed face up (result showing) in the space for it on the GREEN card; this number will affect all shots for this hole. You choose your club card, look at the column the wind dice is in and the strike value is the number in red at the base of that column. You then move your ball accordingly up the course.
Golf clubs have "special powers" which can be activated at the time of playing. These powers are shown on the card in the form of an icon with the descriptions for these icons found in the rules; there are only a few special powers so it doesn't take long to learn what each icon does. GREEN isn't a bad game, there is nothing actually wrong with it per se, but the game mechanics are bits and bobs of rules from a variety of card and board games and when moulded together here they do the job as necessary. What they don't and cannot do is create the atmosphere needed to make this more than an exercise in card selection.
GREEN has a bit of luck, mainly the club cards available (as opposed to having a bag of golf clubs that you can use any of) and a little skill (selecting the best card from those available to you according to the current lay of the land - ie where opponent's golf balls are currently positioned). dv Giochi have produced a well made game with good sturdy components. I have to say that had GREEN not won the Gioco Inedito Award for 2014/15 (of which part of the prize was to have the game published) dv Giochi, I would have been very surprised if it had made it past the play-test phase. The subject matter, Golf, is a sport that though widely played is probably not the most popular amongst tabletop gamers. If you make a game about, let's say, Formula 1, then it's usually going to be a race game. Many gamers aren't Formula 1 fans but they can recognise a good mechanic and enjoy the fun of the race. Golf doesn't have the excitement of the race and GREEN doesn't have that good a game mechanic - don't misunderstand me, there is nothing wrong with the game mechanic there just isn't anything particularly notable or new in it. I have played it solo and with friends and the general concensus of opinion is that it is basically a "going through the motions" exercise. I used to enjoy playing golf for real and the author of GREEN has done their best with a very difficult topic, but apart from the quality of the components and the class artwork by Andrea Guerrieri the game doesn't hold my interest.