Downfall of Pompeii, 7 Card Slugfest, Gem Rush offer good times

By Cody Carlson

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Oct. 10 2013 12:00 p.m. MDT

If you are a fan of speed games, you will no doubt enjoy 7 Card Slugfest. More of a party game, it succeeds in producing more than its share of hilarity. If you like deeper strategy, however, this game is probably not for you. Additionally, parents should know that because the setting is a saloon, some of the artwork does depict beer glasses and drinking.

7 Card Slugfest plays in about a half hour and contains no recommended age, though it is probably suitable for 10 years and up.

Gem Rush

In Gem Rush, one to six players take on the role of different colored dwarves as they mine a mountain in search of gems. In the cooperative “Crisis” mode of game play, players work to reach a number of victory points before they run out of cards.

Four gem cards are dealt to players, and they must discard down to four at the beginning of every turn. Starting in a central tile placed on the table, players then consult their gem cards to see if they can construct a new room. Gem cards match gem symbols at doorways, and can be discarded to open a new room, and players lay down a new tile from a deck.

Once a player has moved, he can draw a new card or use the unique power of the room he is in. These room powers can allow the player to do things like search the deck for specific cards, or can teleport to other parts of the mine. With each new tile placed, the players gain victory points. At the end of each turn, however, players must "burn" two cards from the deck, effectively taking them out of the game forever.

If the players can reach a pre-determined number of victory points before the cards are all burned, they win the game. If not, they lose. In the competitive “Rush” game, the first player to 20 victory points wins.

Gem Rush is a simple, clever, kooky little game that takes some real strategy to win. It can be very frustrating not getting the cards you need, but the rooms themselves offer special ways to improve your chances. Finding out how to best use your limited resources is at the core of this game. Working together, the tension builds steadily as players see their gem deck slowly thinning, and must make increasingly difficult decisions in order to keep constructing rooms and earning victory points.

A lot of fun, families and lovers of light strategy games should really take to Gem Rush, which plays in about 45 minutes and is recommended for ages 13 and up.

Cody K. Carlson holds a master's degree in history from the University of Utah and teaches at SLCC. He has also appeared on many local stages, including Hale Center Theater and Off Broadway Theater. Email: ckcarlson76@gmail.com

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