Wednesday , July 24 2024

Card Game Review: ‘GAP’ from Arcane Wonders

GAP from Arcane Wonders plays like classic card games coming into a new, shiny era. The common 52-card deck has been around for centuries, and there are dozens, if not hundreds, of games played by combining the different suits and numbers with innovative gameplay. GAP feels reminiscent of clever older games like canasta, rummy, or pinochle. With its custom deck, GAP can bring that same challenge and a much smoother flow to the rules without other kinds of cards to distract players.

A Unique Deck

The deck in GAP consists of 50 cards numbered zero to nine in five suits. Each suit bears its own color and a unique symbol like a shield, teardrop, or classic diamond, making them easily recognizable even if color-blindness is an issue. Because the deck is all its own, players can readily break it up to make the game the most effective for the number of players. For two players, two of the suits are removed; one suit is pulled for three players; and four or more players have the whole run of the deck for maximum randomness.

GAP cards in play

A round of GAP begins with each player being dealt a hand of cards. The dealer also plays four cards on the table face-up with the rest of the cards face-down in a draw stack similar to rummy. From there, GAP is a creation all its own with different actions depending on what players have in their hands.

On their turns, players play only one card. If the number on the card matches any of the cards’ numbers on the table, the player collects all of those matching cards and sets them aside on their own stack for scoring at the end of the round. If none of the cards matches, the player may take one card with a number adjacent to the card played to add to their stack. When there are not any matching or adjacent numbers, the player adds the card to the row and the turn passes to the next player.

Multi-level Strategy

During play, GAP is strictly the numbers, but the scoring that comes at the end of each round is all about the colors. When players have played all their cards, they turn to their stacks and organize them by suit. They add up the number of cards in their suit with the most cards for that many points. They then subtract the number of cards in the suit with the least amount of cards. Play continues with a new round until someone beats the agreed-upon total points, whether 15 points for a short game of a few rounds or 70 points for a marathon.

GAP stands out thanks to this two-leveled thinking for strategy. Players will not only have to think of what is available on the table but also of what they have collected thus far and may collect down the road. Ties are counted as bonuses, so strategic players will want to have as many suits with the same top number of cards as possible while they burn away unneeded cards with a clever play, adding it to the table with no similar numbers.

Great for All Ages

GAP is a card game for two to six players ages eight and up. Games are very quick, lasting only about 10 to 15 minutes depending on how many points players want to play toward. With the numbered options for pulling from the cards in the middle and the second measurement of color for points, there can be a bit of a learning curve. These rules are simple, however, and soon players will have a mastery that will make moves quick. GAP is a great play for gamers young and old, making it a solid addition to a family game night.

About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.

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