Updated: Dec 10, 2019
There's no doubting that this is a visually striking game. Open the box and you'll find inside 15 brightly coloured wooden champagne corks. You'll also find a pack of cards, each of which portrays one of the coloured corks.
The idea of this party game from Ginger Fox is that players have a hand of four cards from which they pass a card of their choice to the left, picking up the card passed to them from the right. Each player is aiming to be the first to collect a set of four cards of the same colour. When a player completes a set, he takes a cork from the centre of the table and then everyone makes a gab to also take a cork. Problem is, the number of corks on the table will always be one fewer than the number of players. The player who doesn't succeed in grabbing a cork is eliminated and the game continues, all the time with one less cork, until just one player is left.
If this all sounds quite familiar, it's because this is essentially a variant on the musical chairs game you will have played at children's parties when you were at infant school. That means Corks is unlikely to win any prizes for the originality of its game mechanics but it doesn't make this a bad game. On the contrary, unlike many of the relatively cerebral games that are packaged as 'party games', this one really is a game that can be played at parties.
It does have some downsides. Though it accommodates up to 14 players, the fact that Corks is eliminating players means that those who are knocked out early will be left sitting at the sidelines passively watching a game in which they can take no further part. If you play with five or six, that's not going to leave them waiting very long but it's a different story if you are playing with 14. Be warned too that some of the colours (the red and orange, for example) can be difficult to distinguish under certain lights. The other point to note is that the rules say that the number of sets of matching cards is adjusted so that it is always the same as the number of players. That means that the last two players left in the game are each trying to complete a set of 4 cards from the two sets of 4 that are in play. That inevitably means that the two players will both complete their sets at the same time, so the finish is solely down to reaction time.
Printed around the box rather than on a rules sheet, the rules include some variants, and you'll probably come up with some ideas of your own for tweaking Corks. Nevertheless, this isn't a game that you're going to want to play repeatedly. However, it's one to bring to the party and its visual appeal and simplicity means that you won't have any difficulty recruiting players.