Saturday, October 11, 2014

Quick Review - Sequence

Designer: Doug Reuter
Publisher: JAX, Ltd.
Quick Review - Sequence
Tonight my youngest was asking to play a game (as is usual).  After turning down several requests for longer games, like Castle Panic, and his favorite kid game, Sum Swamp, I finally convinced both him and his older brother to give Sequence a try.

Sequence has been around for a long time.  I think it came out in 1982, but I've never played it.  I picked it up a few months ago from the resale shop for a buck because it said it was good for 2-12 players.  Well, that's kind of a misleading description because it can really be played with 2 or 3 players, or in teams with any number of players that divides by 2 or 3 (i.e. 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, or 12).  In team play each player plays independently, but the teammates use the same color chips to try and win.

The concept behind Sequence is super simple.  Each player is dealt a set of regular playing cards from a double deck.  Then they take turns playing a card from their hand and placing a chip on the game board so that it covers the printed representation of that card.  There are two of everything on the game board, except jacks, which are wild (or anti-wild).  The goal is to get a sequence of 5 chips in a row horizontally, vertically, or diagonally on the board.  2-eyed jacks are wild so you can play it and place a chip anywhere.  1-eyed jacks are anti-wild and let you take an opponent's chip off the board.

The game is billed as a fun, challenging, and exciting strategy game.  Again, this is a bit misleading.  Yes there is a little bit of strategy behind the game in deciding to place tokens grouped with other same-color tokens when possible, or place them to block opponents' sequence attempts, however there is also a lot of luck in the game.  You can have the best strategy in the world, bu if you don't get the right cards you'll never be able to execute that strategy.  When I played with my boys my 5 year old basically played random cards from his hand.  My 8 year old did his best to play chips near where other chips were played, but in an attempt to teach him a little strategy I helped him out with a few decisions - sometimes he wanted to group his chips together even when that wouldn't have helped him as much as playing a chip somewhere else on the board to block me.  I played the best I could, trying to line up chips so that I could win in multiple ways if I got the correct card.  And there's the crux of the problem with this game.  Before long all three of us had at least one potential sequence.  And it just became a waiting game to see who would draw the card he needed first, or would someone draw the card to block a sequence.  My 8 year old ended up winning, but not by any great strategy, it was just pure luck that he got the card he needed.  I flipped the next few cards in the deck and I would have had a winning hand in 2 turns.  My youngest would have had to wait a bit longer.  And through all that there was absolutely nothing any of us could have done throughout the game to affect who got the card he needed first.

Was the game fun?  Sort of.  My boys enjoyed it and since it really didn't require a whole lot of deep thinking it was good for them, especially since it was getting late.  Was the game exciting?  Not really.  Was the game challenging?  Not at all.  As I said, my 5 year old just played cards randomly and still came as close to winning as I did.  Was the game strategic?  Barely.  Too much luck to have any real strategy.  I see this as the type of game that can come off the shelf for very casual, conversational gaming.  The game requires very little thought and is fine for two or three couples to play absentmindedly while they have talk about other things.  It's really just an excuse to all sit around the same table and keep your hands busy while your mind is focused on chatting.

Preliminary Rating: 4/10

Placing a chip.
This makes four in a row, just need one more!
It's the winning move!

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GJJG Game Reviews are independent, unpaid reviews of games I, George Jaros, have played with my family and friends.  Some of these games I own, some are owned by friends, some are borrowed, and some are print and play versions of games.  Where applicable I will indicate if games have been played with kids or adults or a mix (Family Play).  I won't go into extensive detail about how to play the game (there are plenty of other sources for that information and I'll occasionally link to those other sources), but I will give my impressions of the game and how my friends and family reacted to the game.  First Play Impression reviews will only get a single rating of 1-10 (low-high) based on my first impressions of the game during my first time playing.  Hopefully I'll get more chances to play the game and will be able to give it a full review soon.

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