Posted by: gschloesser | August 10, 2011

Rigamarole

Published by:  Hidden Talents
4 – 8 Players, 1  – 2 hours
Review by:  Greg J. Schloesser  

At first glance, Rigamarole seems to be a clever new addition to the field of party games. 

It combines elements from numerous different games in the genre, requiring players to perform charades, play word games, use their senses to guess sights or sounds, etc.  Teams must move around the circular board and successfully complete four different categories before moving to the center space for a chance at victory.  Sounds like a lot of fun.  Sadly, there are numerous problems. 

Players divide into teams and take turns rolling the die and moving their pawn around the board.  Oh, it warrants mentioning that player pawns are NOT included in the game.  Rather, players are instructed to scour their home for suitable pawns.  The intent is clearly to give each team a certain attachment to the pawn they select, but in reality this seems, well, lame. 

After rolling the die, the team can move either clockwise or counter-clockwise, ala Trivial Pursuit.  This does provide the team with two choices where to move.  Once they have moved, one of the team members draws a card of the appropriate category and reads aloud the instructions, but not the answers, which are printed in red.  The timer is then flipped, giving the remaining team members 60 seconds to correctly answer the question or complete the task.  Some cards give players a longer time limit, while others allow all teams to compete to complete the card’s requirements.  

Successfully completing a card allows the team to keep the card, which can either be a “Rite of Passage” or “Option to Purchase” card.  It also usually rewards the team with stones, which can later be used to purchase a Rite of Passage card when the 20 stones are accumulated.  The number of stones required is reduced to five if the team had previously acquired an Option to Purchase card.  The Rite of Passage card is purchased from another team, which means that previously acquired cards are prone to be lost to other teams.

In an incredible rules gaffe, which supports my theory that the game did not receive proper play-testing, the rules call for the purchasing team to pay the stones used to the team from which they acquired the card.  This had the ugly effect of allowing the opposing team to re-purchase the lost card on their very next turn, creating a never-ending cycle of back-and-forth purchases.  Apparently, this ugly situation was eventually detected by the game’s designers, as a subsequent rule change was implemented wherein the stones used in a purchase are NOT paid to the opposing team, but rather are returned to the bank. 

There is another way to acquire a Rite of Passage card:  simply land on an opponent’s space and take any card of your choice from that team.  Uggh.  This creates a situation wherein it is extremely difficult to maintain possession of these valuable cards.  Since four Rite of Passage cards, one from each category, are required before entering the center circle and attempt to claim the victory, this has the undesirable effect of causing the game to drag on well past its welcome. 

When a team has managed to acquire the required four Rite of Passage cards, its pawn is moved to the center circle.  On their next turn, they must successfully complete a “Hidden Talents” final challenge.  These challenges cover a wide range of talents, including the ability to talk about oneself without stopping for 60 seconds, to playing a three-shell game.  Fortunately, if a team misses, it can remain in the center circle and try again on its next turn.  The first team to correctly complete the challenge wins. 

The game is filled with holes, and many cards require players to search their house for various items before performing a task.  This takes folks away from the table for extended periods, which sort of ruins the idea of a party game.  It also causes the game to have periods of significant down-time, which is, again, something anathema to the intent of a party game.  

In my playings, we frequently encountered cards whose instructions were vague, and whose intent could easily be circumvented.  This resulted in numerous discussions and debates, which caused the game to grind to a halt and sapped much of the fun from it.  The intent of the cards is to inject a wide variety of fun tasks and challenges into the proceedings, but I get the impression that they all were not properly play-tested.  I envision a group of friends brainstorming, and devising an idea that elicited a “that sounds like fun” response.  However, they likely never went much further, and never tested each card with various groups to make sure the idea worked.  The same thing can be said of much of the game, which has mechanisms that cause it to drag on well beyond the duration of the fun.  My advice would be to stick with the party games that have stood the test of time –and have been adequately tested.

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