Friday, November 4, 2011

Why I Love...: Got 'Em!

Sometimes, love is unconditional. It's blind to faults, oblivious to issues, and would have us walk through the fire, unquestioning. In 'Why I Love...' we invite writers to share, without shame and without even the merest hint of balance, what it is about a particular game that turns them into a pile of gamer goo, desperate for just one more game.


Are you tired of buying family games to play with your kids and your non-gaming friends, and then having to buy even more games to play with your hard-core strategic gaming buddies?
Well, Calliope Games has the perfect game for you. Got ’Em is a fun family game that kids of any age can play AND uses the exact same mechanics to provide a awesome, repeatable strategy game that will quickly become a must-play for every gamer.
The best part of both versions of the game is their straight-up simplicity. Got ’Em is played on a grid-based board with slots along each side of the squares. In these slots you place walls. The goal of the game is to trap your opponent so they can no longer move—of course, at this point you yell “GOT ’EM.” The winner is the last piece standing (or, in this case, moving). That’s the game—simple and easy to learn even for the youngest players.
The family game, using the Bright Got ’Em rules, is played on the side of the board with all the squares colored in a mosaic of red, green, yellow and blue. Each player is dealt 3 cards and places their game piece on the board in the indicated spot. Each turn the player takes a card from their hand and plays it face up. The cards have simple instructions; for example, a typical cards reads: place a wall on red square [and] may move 2 squares. The easy-to-understand directions let anyone see the exact action the player takes, and in what order. Following those instructions, the player places a wall on any side of any red square on the board. They can choose to build on an existing wall played by another player, try to force another player into a dead end, or play in a more mysterious style and try to create a labyrinth that will slowly trap all the other players!
After placing the wall, the player can move his or her piece a number of squares less than or equal to the instruction on the card. In the example, the player can move her piece 0, 1 or 2 squares. There are cards that put a twist into things by allowing players to remove a wall or place one on any color square or, for the ultimate escape, move through a wall! At the end of their turn, the player draws a new card.
With 3 cards in their hand, the players always have a choice and can put the pressure on each other. The game plays extremely fast, less than 30 minutes for an average game. Before you know it, even grandma will have 3 or 4 games under her belt (I was schooled by my 7-year-old!). The card randomization and the creative layout of the board means no two games are alike, with some games feeling like the ultimate chase and others more like a boxing match. With 4 players, the options are endless!


But here’s where Calliope Games has really created a must-have game—the Brainy Got ’Em rules. In this version of the game, you use the flip side of the board. There are no colored squares here and you don’t use the cards. In this highly strategic version, it’s your wits and puzzle acumen that will win the day, not the random draw of the cards. You place your game piece on the board in the space indicated, and each player does 2 things on their turn: place a wall and move. Simple, right? HA! You have no constraints in placing the wall. Want to create a maze? Go for it! Want to cut the board in half? Play away! When you move your piece, you move 1 space, and then 1 extra space for every wall on the square your piece is on. That’s right; you can place a wall on your own square and get an instant +1 speed boost to get you out of trouble! But take care if you stop near a square with more than one wall already placed: your piece may be trapped before your turn comes around again!
The exciting and strategic combination of placing walls, moving to escape trouble and setting up your piece in a safe area for your next turn makes this game simple to learn—and very hard to master. You will want to play again just to explore the many options and choices that you didn’t get to make. The Brainy version of the game still plays in less than 30 minutes and has the intensity of speed chess!
Got ’Em is a must for any gamer’s shelf—a game that appeals to everyone and will immediately become part of your game rotation!

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