A remake of German bluffing game Tiefe Taschen with criminal creatures in the place of corrupt politicians, GoodCritters is the perfect example of less being more when it comes to the ratio of rules to having fun.
In the vein of stick ‘em up party favourite Cash ‘n Guns, the action centres around the greedy crims divvying up a stash of loot. The boss – you know they’re top of the pile because they have a preposterously oversized ring that says so – splits the loot cards as they like between their minions and themselves, and everyone gets to vote on whether it goes ahead or not. Or they might just skim the top of the deck for the next bit of cash, but only if they’re first to do so; otherwise they’ll end up empty-handed. Or they could rob someone else – which might backfire and see them losing a loot card themselves if their target has guarded.
It’s laughably simple, both in the way you’ll pick it up within about 20 seconds and the guarantee you’ll end up cackling as you skim valuable sculptures and paintings while your rivals uselessly guard against your threat marker – which is just as handy for targeting an actual robbery as it is for messing with people.
The game knows that the best entertainment here is each other, and gives you just enough toys to play around with as you try to appease everyone enough to canvass votes while ensuring you stay at least a few grand ahead of your “equal” partners on the sly. The optional payoff tokens add slightly more concrete ways to forge alliances – though always temporary – for those who want a little more control, but the game works best with likeminded players unafraid to smooth-talk before sticking the knife in.
The game’s only notable blip is its variable play length, which is strangely fussy to set up at first – a few rounds and you can eyeball it.
As light to play as it is lighthearted, GoodCritters is a uproarious social bluffing game that your group will gladly play without needing to have a gun stuck in their face – foam or otherwise.
PLAY IT? – PROBABLY
Designer: Fabian Zimmermann
Artist: Valerio Buonfantino, Stephen Gibson
Time: 30-45 minutes
This review originally appeared in the January 2019 issue of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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