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Card Game Review: Beat the Buzzard

Posted by Brian on March 16, 2007

Some games take an incredibly simple concept and spin it into a very entertaining game – Alex Randolph’s Beat the Buzzard is one of those games.

The components are simple: five sets of cards numbered 1-15; ten “mouse cards,” numbered 1-10; and five “buzzard cards,” numbered -1 to -5. Each player takes one of the sets, while the buzzard and mouse cards are shuffled together and placed face down in the middle of the table.

Each round, a single card from the center deck is revealed; the cards will range from -5 to 10, which indicate their point value at the end of the game. Then, all the players choose a card from their hand and place it face-down in front of them. Cards are then revealed simultaneously with the following rules in play:

• For point cards with a positive value, the player who played the highest card receives it.
• For point cards with a negative value, the player who played the lowest card receives it.
• If there is ever a tie for the highest or lowest card, then those two cards cancel each other out and the point card goes to the player who played the next highest or lowest card.

This continues until the center deck is exhausted, with the winner being the one with the most points. That’s it.

Yes, it’s incredibly simple, but don’t let that overshadow the potential for fun. With enough players, there is a lot of guessing, second-guessing, and triple-guessing going on. I’ve been in more than one game where the winner of the 10 point card is the person who played the lowest card – all the other players played high and ended up canceling each other out. A big part of the fun is yelling at your friends for having the nerve to play the same card you did. Damn them!

Of course, this game isn’t for everybody. As far as lightweight filler games go, it is way on the ethereal end of the scale (as opposed to a game such as, say, Coloretto, which is light but deep). There’s a bit of psychology involved in terms outguessing your opponents, but beyond that there isn’t a lot of “game” here. If that’s enough to keep you interested – and it is enough for me – than you’ll like this game. But for more hardcore gamers who are looking for a filler game, there might be better choices out there.

Beat the Buzzard is a fun, simple game that works well for a quick diversion when a break is needed. It’s also a good game for non-gamers because of its simple and intuitive rules.

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One Response to “Card Game Review: Beat the Buzzard”

  1. DB said

    This is a great game. It is a remake of an older game, Raj. Raj has the 5 player decks and nice plastic tiles for the point cards. Where Beat The Buzzard unfortunately has a more child-like/kid-friendly look, Raj has a more simple/basic theme that people can take more seriously. Either way, it is a really fun game that balances out well when totals from multiple rounds are added together for a final score (3 rounds of 15 card flips will play very quickly).
    This is a great game for anyone/everyone.

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