Updated: Apr 19
You'll recognise the exclamation 'Bah! Humbug!' from Scrooge in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and, yes, Bah! Humbug! is a Christmas-themed game. Tho' Emily Willix's design is very firmly rooted in the 12 Days of Christmas rather than the seasonal Dickens story, there's a strong evocation of the Victorian era thanks to the artwork from Olha Bondarenko.
Bah! Humbug! is a bluffing game. Numbered cards representing the 12 days of Christmas are laid out like the numerals on a clock face. There's a deck of 'mail' cards, each of which represents one of the 12 days from the 12 Days of Christmas song but with a card back that looks like an item of mail. The 2-4 players each have a hand of mail cards. The first player plays a card face down to the 12, the next player to the 11, and so on. When you play a card, you announce it as the number to which it's played (ideally reciting the appropriate line from the song). However, you don't have to be telling the truth... If you think a player is bluffing and has laid a different number, you can call their bluff. If you call them out correctly, you score a berry (red token) - taken from the bluffer if they have a berry for the taking. If you are wrong, tho' it's the wrongfully accused player that scores a berry.
Regardless of the result, players then go back around the previously played cards, flipping them to see which of them was a bluff. For any that were, the player that laid them is given a lump of coal (black token). Players then repeat for another round until a player wins by either collecting three berries, making them the Nicest, or by collecting five coal, making them the Naughtiest (the winning targets are five berries or seven coal if you're playing with just two).
The rules are simple, making Bah! Humbug! a very accessible game that can be enjoyed by seasoned (and seasonal) gamers and family members alike. The penalty for wrongfully accusing another player can make players reluctant to call others out in a lie; to the extent that you can find that daring push-your-luck players may well bluff even when they have the cards in hand that match the number of the day: after all, you only need to get five bluffs down in a three-player game to secure a 'Naughty' victory... As with all good bluffing games, players will inevitably adjust their 'strategy' on bluffing and calling out others based on players' behaviour in previous rounds...
Shown here on Board's Eye View is a preview prototype of Bah! Humbug! It's a versatile card game because rules are included so that the beautiful cards can also be used to play a dozen other games. It'll make a very suitable seasonal stocking filler but we're publishing this review early for Christmas 2023 rather than late for 2022: the game is on Kickstarter right now so you'll have to wait till 2023 for the published version - one then for next year's Christmas stocking. Check out the Kickstarter now at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/smallfurrygames/bahhumbuggame