Disclaimer: This is a Kickstarter preview that I was not paid for.
Trick-taking hit the headlines last year with the release of The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine from Kosmos Games. It’s a fantastic co-op trick-taking card game, where players try to work together without communicating, to accomplish missions. That’s great, but what if you want something that isn’t completely co-operative? What if you like a bit of teamwork laced with competition, and enjoy nothing more than crushing your rivals underfoot? Well, a new Kickstarter, Tome: The Light Edition, from Reversal Games, might be exactly what you’re looking for.
Trick-taking is a mechanism that’s been around for longer than I have – which is quite a while. If your parents or grandparents played card games, there’s a good chance they know at least one variation of a trick-taking game. Bridge, Whist & Euchre are among the best-known games.
The principle is simple. A card is played, players try to follow the suit or colour, the highest card in that suit wins that round, or ‘trick’. Tome is the latest to join the ranks of games built on this simple principle. What makes it different though? Why would you enjoy it?
Bridging a gap
Tome is a game in the vein of that perennial favourite, Bridge. Players work in teams of two, with partners sat opposite one another around a table. It follows the tried-and-tested formula of a card being dealt to the middle, and players trying to telepathically communicate with their partner as to which cards they should or shouldn’t play.
Tome’s cards use suits and ranks like many other cards, but the big difference here are the powers imbued in each card. As long as you don’t break the chain of suits from the start of the trick (or Chapter as it’s known, in Tome’s parlance), most of the cards have a power, spell, or effect that’s applied. And let me tell you, these powers really mix things up. You might play a card that increases in value with subsequent cards being played, or one that lets you claim any of the played cards at the end of the chapter. There’s another one that removes the lead card altogether!
It adds a whole new layer to simple trick-taking. Weak cards can suddenly become really powerful, chapters can completely swing on the last card played. And you know what? It feels brilliant when it happens.
Fun on the cards
Tome: The Light Edition is awesome fun. We were able to pick it up really quickly, and after we’d played the first couple of hands, there was this collective whirring of cranial cogs as it all made sense. It’s got a really enjoyable take-that feeling, which never gets outright aggressive or nasty, but is enormously satisfying. Tricks swing suddenly, that four point lead you had is eroded to nothing over the space of five minutes, and I guarantee that at least once in every game you’ll be hanging onto a card, inwardly wringing your hands at a deliciously evil plan you’ve got in store with it.
If even just working as a partnership is too much like co-operation for you, there’s a great Survival mode in the rule book. Three or four players can duke it out, hoping to hang on to at least one of their two lives, to survive long enough to be crowned the winner.
Honestly, it would be really hard for me to come up with a reason for you not to back Tome: The Light Edition. For £11 ($15), it’s an absolute no-brainer. It’s enormous fun, extremely easy to pick-up, will work in combination with other Tome editions as and when they’re available, it’s fast, and it’ll fit in your pocket. The cards, even in the prototype copy I was given, are really nice stock with a great finish. The artwork is gorgeous and practical. It’s as if Magic: The Gathering had a baby with a Tarot deck.
You can back Tome: The Light edition on Kickstarter right now – click here to find out more.
Prototype copy kindly provided by Reversal Games. Thoughts and opinions are my own.
Tome: The Light Edition (2021)
Designer: Anthony Thorp
Publisher: Reversal Games
Art: Lauren Yu
Playing time: 30 minutes