01 March 2016
You’re in for a lightweight but enjoyable treat if you find this tucked away in your stocking on Christmas Day.
Osprey Games | Card game | £9.99 | 4-8 players | 30-60 minutes | www.ospreygames.co.uk
It’s Christmas afternoon and you’re full of food. There’s absolutely nothing interesting on television and you’re at risk of falling asleep unless you get some sort of stimulation. You would love to play a game but the thought of plodding upstairs and carrying a potentially heavy box back down fills you (and your bulging stomach) with dread. Thankfully though Secret Santa is here to save the day! The perfect Christmas afternoon boredom antidote, Secret Santa is a neat festive-themed treat that all the family can play.
Of course we all know that really, at its heart, Christmas is about giving all those wonderful presents, rather than receiving… no, honestly it is! So Secret Santa takes this theme to the extreme and sees players in a desperate bid to get rid of their presents before anyone else, therefore proving they are the most generous person around.
But how do you give the goodies away? Well, each card is numbered based around the 12 Days of Christmas so, for example, there are eight cards showing five gold rings and three with a lord-a-leaping. The higher the number on the card the less there are, which means there’s only one 12 drummers drumming card but 12 cards with a partridge in a pear tree.
Each round players take it turn to try and get rid of the most cards possible. The first player dictates how many cards will be played that round, e.g. they’ll discard three cards showing the number two. The next player must then put the same amount of cards down but increase the number to three or more. This continues until all the players can no longer increase the number. Tactically there’s a certain amount of bluff and trying to read your opponents when playing cards because you’ve got to try and work out what they might have in their hand before deciding what number to play.
Another tactical element comes in the form of special cards with different abilities that can really mess up everyone else’s game plan. There’s the Santa card, which immediately wins the round no matter what numbers have been played, the Christmas Tree that forces everyone to randomly take back all the cards that have just been played in the previous round, plus more. Our particular favourite is the Christmas Carol card, which allows you to move seats so you can get closer to the drinks cabinet.
Secret Santa really is the ideal Christmas afternoon treat that’s helped by some gorgeous illustrations. Although the rules are a little confusing to begin with – and you might have to explain it loudly to grandma a few times – after one round you’ll quickly be up to speed. Although it can be played with three people, it’s better with four or more players, as you get to use all the special cards, so perhaps invite the neighbours round if you’re short on numbers. Still, we’re sure you’ll be cracking this out every festive season… just like the emergency chairs at Christmas dinner.
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