Updated: Oct 24, 2020
Designed by James Hudson, Guardian’s Call is a bluffing card game for 2-5 players, taking about 45 minutes, with similarities to Sheriff of Nottingham (Arcane Wonders). It is published by Druid City and Skybound.
Each turn you will draw cards and make an offer to another player. That player will decide whether or not they think your offer is truly what you claim it to be. If they are correct in guessing, they gain all of the cards that were offered. If they were incorrect, you gain the cards. The losing player gets a coin as compensation, which can be saved up and used in a variety of ways.
Despite the simple basic bluffing mechanic, there’s a surprising amount to think about in this game: it’s not just cheat/no cheat. When picking up cards, you need to consider whether to take the ones you want from the face-up offer (allowing opponents to know roughly what you’ve got) or draw cards face-down. Each type of card grants points in a different way, meaning that their value will vary among different players and at different stages of the game. There are also public objectives that will offer special scoring opportunities, further altering the value of different cards to different players and changing the potential strategies each game. There’s even an element of asymmetry, as each player character has an affinity with one of the five types of scoring card.
The 'defending the realm' theme for Guardian's Call is thin, though it is beautifully illustrated by Noah Adelman, Lina Cossette and Damien Mammoliti, so, with all the intriguing scoring considerations, this is very much a gamer’s bluffing game. If you don’t like bluffing games, you’re unlikely to get on very well with it, and there will be a large difference in scores if players aren’t careful! If you do like bluffing though, and you maybe have a games group who have played to death Skull (Asmodee / Granna) or Sheriff of Nottingham, you'll be eager for something a little deeper and more varied. This could be just the game you need.
(Review by Matt Young)