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Allie Gator

Designed by Klaus Kreowski and published by Kosmos, with art by Folko Streese, Allie Gator is a light family-friendly UNO-style card game played using number cards (1-70) and 'special' cards which variously alter the direction of play or otherwise mostly mess with other players by stealing cards or lumbering them with penalty points. The reptilian theme is largely non-existent, other than in the use of 'alligator teeth' to mark the winner of each round but Kosmos have given us a well-designed package where even the magnetic closing box is fully utilised: the lid unfolds to form the board.

We say 'board' but in practice this is really just the place where you put out at random two number cards. These constitute the targets that the 2-5 players cannot exceed. On your turn, you play a number card from your hand of five cards to a discard pile below one of the two target cards. The card you play must be higher than the number card that was previously played on that discard pile but it must be lower than the target card positioned above it. You then draw a card to bring your hand size up to five. If at any point you cannot or choose not to play a number card or 'special' card, you have to pick up all the cards in one of the discard piles and place them in front of you where they will each score a negative point at the end of the round, which will be when the draw deck is exhausted and all hands have been played.

It's the 'special' cards that spice up the game. When you have a 'special card' in your hand you can play it on your turn instead of a number card. However, whenever you play a 'special card' it is placed in front of you so it'll score you a negative point.

Reversing the direction of play can get you out of a tricky situation where you have no legal number card play open to you and can instead put pressure on other players. If you have a 'special' card that lets you 'increase the target', you can immediately play a number card to replace one of the target cards. That tho' will often help other players as much as you... 'Allie's Gift' lets you take the top card from a discard pile and give it to another player where it goes in front of them to contribute to their negative score at the end of the round. We found in our plays at Board's Eye View that the 'steal' card was perhaps the least helpful 'special' card: it lets you take (blind) a card from another player's hand (which they replace by drawing a new card) so it doesn't necessarily hinder an opponent but, like the other 'special' cards, playing it gives you a negative point.

At the end of a round, the player with the fewest negative points wins and collects two alligator teeth; the player with the second fewest collects one tooth. The game ends when a player has three teeth.

We especially enjoyed All Gator with four or five players. It's playable as a two-player game but it works less well with two; not least because with just two players the 'reverse direction' cards simply let you take a one-point penalty to skip your turn. With more players tho', Allie Gator is a game that all the family can play.

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