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Crack List

Designed by Pierre Faucon, published by Yaqua Studio and distributed in the UK by Hachette Boardgames UK, Crack List is an Uno-style word and trivia card game where you are vying to be the first player to get rid of all your cards.

The game comprises two decks of cards: a blue deck of letter and action cards, and a red deck of cards setting out three different 'categories'. The 2-8 players each start off with a hand of eight blue deck cards. A card is flipped from the red card and 'the youngest player' picks which category to use from the three on the card. Players then take turns playing a letter card from their hand that corresponds to the first letter of something that ties in with the category; so, for example, for the category 'salad ingredients', you might play L for lettuce or T for tomato. Players are expected to name their word and play their letter card with a delay of no more than 20 seconds, tho' the game doesn't come with a 20-second sand timer. If a player dithers overmuch in taking their turn, or if they give a wrong answer or one that duplicates an answer that's already been given, they must draw a card and add it to their hand.

There's a 'take that' element in that some letters, deemed more difficult to play, let you draw cards and hand them to other players to add to their hands. Letters F, G, L and N are considered +1; J, K, V and W are +2; and Q, X, Y and Z are +3. It's up to the player who successfully plays a +2 or +3 letter whether the extra cards should all be added to a single player's hand or should be divvied up among two or three of the players.

Tho' most of the blue deck cards are letters, the deck also includes some action cards. You can play one of these on your turn instead of a letter. The 'Crack List' card lets you draw another red deck category card and choose the new category from the three on that card. 'Reverse' switches the direction of play (ie: from clockwise to anti-clockwise, and vice versa). 'Swap' means you can exchange either your whole hand or a single card of your choice with another player. This can obviously be a very powerful game changer if you see that an opponent is down to their last card... We could've done tho' without the three 'Stop' cards which simply mean the next player misses their turn: we're never fans of 'miss a turn' penalties in games, and especially not cards like this where the penalty is applied to the player who just happens to be the one who follows the person that played the card.

Tho' Crack List is notionally for 2-8 players, it shines at higher player counts. From our plays at Board's Eye View, we've especially enjoyed it as a filler-length 20-minute party game for five or six players but you can substantially increase the player count by playing this as a team game. The three categories on each red deck card are supposedly differentiated by difficulty but we found some of the 'medium difficulty' categories overly 'generous': few will struggle satisfying the 'film titles' category with whatever letters they have in their hand., and board gamers will similarly fill their boots with the 'medium difficulty' category 'games you play around a table'. By contrast, we reckon most folk would have greater difficulty satisfying the supposedly 'easy' category on those cards ('things you'd find in a hotel room' and 'animals with paws') unless they were fortuitous with the letter cards in their hand.

You win a round and take the red deck category card as a victory point if you're the first person to get rid of all your cards. The rules suggest playing over three rounds with the overall victory going to the player who has won the most rounds but if your games go like most of ours that may well mean you'll mostly end with a three-way tie. No matter - you should play Crack List for the fun of the game and the player interaction rather than caring overly who wins. Another game to consider for this year's seasonal festivities...

Board's Eye View was not paid to show off Crack List but we were sent a free review copy from UK distributors Hachette Boardgames UK. Crack List is available from board game and hobby stores.

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