During my initial look through the Forrrre! rules, my reaction was, “Oh, that’s simple.” After playing intricate, multi-tiered card games with whole booklets of instructions, I wondered if this apparently basic game could hold my interest. And, oh, it did.
Simplicity is hardly a bad thing. Poker is a game that’s been around for centuries, and yet it continues to fascinate us with whole ESPN channels dedicated to it, acres of casino floors, and groups of friends playing for hours and hours every week. The trick is getting good card-playing buddies, and once the groove is set for playing, the game will go on for hours.
Forrrre! comes from Waist Deep Card Games and takes the shape of a 52-card deck. Rather than being based on the standard card deck game Golf, Forrrre! goes in its own direction, setting up scoring cards (eagle, hole in one, birdie, par, bogey, etc.) and wild cards. Game play is the straight-forward “draw one, play one,” making turns quick and keeping necessary plotting at a minimum. While the goal is simple, get the lowest score with the four cards placed in front of you, the wild cards give the game its fascinating twists.
Two wild cards, Shankin It and Cart Girl, essentially set each other up, creating something of a mini-game. Shankin It takes the place of a scoring card. Of course, a cold beverage from the Cart Girl clears up one’s “shanks,” and so the card clears the space. Games seem to be a continual thrust/parry of watching for the Shankin It cards and having a Cart Girl ready to dismiss a Shankin It should one appear.
The Mulligan card is good for strategy and stocking one’s hand, but the “attack” cards are what gives the game its real play. Gopher works as a theft card, taking an opponent’s scoring card (also making the obligatory, “That kangaroo just took my ball!” reference for the film Caddyshack, which is as obligatory to say as it is hilarious to hear every single time I’ve seen the film). Out of Bounds forces a discard as well as costs the opponent a turn. Then, there is the most powerful attack card, Lightning, that wipes out all of an opponent’s scoring cards. Even worse, the Shankin It cards stay behind, which might upset a whole lead built through previous rounds. It’s such a powerful card that I could see some people creating home rules by discarding it from the game. More risk-taking players would keep it in, watching out for that one moment where everything could go horribly wrong for someone.
The combative and reversal nature of the game is what makes Forrrre! work. The cartoony images used on the cards provide great ambiance and the references to golf and golf-related hilarity will give smirks, but the real trick is that it keeps players interested. With its simplistic yet cunning system, Forrrre! does this effectively, giving golfers a chance to do something when rain chokes out the greens.