Saturday, June 18, 2011

Product Review: Tetris: The Card Game

Most every American child of the 80's enjoyed the Nintendo game, Tetris. I played it, my wife played it, my friends played it. If you've been living under a very large rock, in the middle of the Sahara for the past 30 years, the mechanics and aim of Tetris were simple - assorted blocks of various shapes dropped down from the top of a matrix and the player must fit them into open spaces, eliminating blocks of lines as they are filled, without the running out of room. Simple.

Fundex has been nice enough to provide us with the game in card form, for those times when you lack either a Nintendo and/or electricity (or, as in my case, you simply have an addiction to picking up games that look odd and quirky). Tetris: The Card Game retails for $6.95USD and I was able to pick up a copy at Barnes & Noble. The box is small and light enough to be carried nearly anywhere without a problem.

The game consists of its instructions and 102 cards. Each card has 2 sides. The face (here called the "Tetrimino") has one specific block shape, while the reverse (called the "Matrix") has a set of blocks already in position within the Matrix.

The card game's mechanics are simple and straightforward, as shown in the pic above. Each player (in this example, we have 2 players - myself and my wife, Amanda) is dealt out 10 cards, arranged in 2 rows of 5 cards each in front of them. This is the Score Pile and is (usually) used simply to keep track of how many lines that player has completed. Each player is than dealt 1 card to make up their "hand" (here called the "Queue"). The remaining cards are placed, Matrix-side up, in the middle of the table to form a Draw pile. A Discard pile will be placed next to it.

Each turn the active player draws 1 card from the Draw pile and places it in their hand ("Queue"). The player then looks at the top card of the Draw pile to see what its Matrix looks like and consults his or her 2 cards. If one of those shapes on the "Tetrimino" can fit somewhere within that Matrix, the player places that shape in the Discard pile, tells the other players how it will fit and how many lines it will complete, and than turns over as many cards in their Score Pile as the number of lines completed.

If a player cannot place either of the shapes in their hand in the Matrix shown, the player must "Drop" 1 card into the Discard pile, gaining no score that turn. The first player to fill 10 lines/turn over 10 cards in their Score Pile wins.

In the example above, it's my first turn. I play the red shaped block into the Discard pile and say that it completes the 4th line from the bottom on the Matrix shown in the Draw pile. I than flip over 1 card in my Score Pile (in the lower right), to shown that I completed one line.

Later, my wife is able to complete the Matrix shown on the Draw Pile by placing her blue line block in the Discard pile and showing that it completes 2 lines. She than flips over 2 cards in her Score Pile, now needing to complete seven more lines to win.

Simple, right?

The fun comes in playing the "wild cards" on your opponent - Reverse, Power Up, Drop 2, Drop 4, and Bomb. Reverse allows the active player to change the direction in which play proceeds (normally clock-wise), which can be helpful in a multi-player game. Drop 2 (pictured below) and Drop 4 all force your opponent to "lose" 2 or 4 lines, respectively, from their Score Pile. In the pic below, I'd be forced to flip back over 2 of the 4 winning lines I have.

Bomb is another card useful in multi-player games, as it forces all other players (except the one playing it) to "lose" 1 line from their Score Pile.

Power Up is probably the most potentially powerful card in the game. When played, the player may switch the Power Up card with any card, still placed "Tetrimino" side up, in any players' Score Pile, take it into their hand, and then immediately try to place it in the Matrix shown. Depending on number of players, that means you could have anywhere from 1-40 cards to choose from. In the pic below, I swapped my Power Up with the purple shape block and completed 2 lines in the Matrix pictured.

Overall, this is a nice little game, easy for most players of all ages to master and a nice bit of 80s nostalgia.

-Perfect for Nintendo/Tetris fans, capturing the feel of the video game in card form
-Easy to learn and carry around


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How many of each tetrimino? I'm wondering if I could use them for Tetris Link.