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Designed by Ren Multamaki, Justice is a tricksy trick-taking card game where it's not so much about winning tricks but more about how you make use of the cards you win. In that sense, it has some similarities with Ren Multamaki's Tolerance (Dragon Dawn Productions). The game is set in the same universe as Factory 42 (Dragon Dawn Productions), which represented a Dwarven society run on Soviet lines, but here players are using the cards they play after they win a trick to influence whether the three suspects are convicted or acquitted of their alleged crimes. At the end of each hand of cards, players' actual score is determined not by the tricks won but after comparing the relative weight of conviction or acquittal cards, and by revealing the previously face-down cards that showed whether or not they were actually guilty. Depending on your hidden objective, you may want to convict or acquit regardless of whether the accused actually committed the crime.

The deck used for trick-taking is made up of four suits of cards numbered 1-14, plus 1-14 in 'Reaction' cards. The 3-5 players are dealt 12 cards but then discard two of these to create their starting hand. Alternatively, you can create your starting hand through card drafting, but again allowing for two cards to be discarded at the end. The trump suit for each hand is set by the crime card but Reaction cards can be played to turn a non-trump card of the same value into a virtual trump. Tho' this is an interesting concept, it does mean, of course, that the value of Reaction cards is highly situational: if you have a Reaction card but no non-trump card with exactly the same value, then your Reaction card is useless to you. In our plays at Board's Eye View, we found that more often than not it was Reaction cards that were discarded by players on round set up.

In addition to their hand of cards, players also have two 'soulgaze' tokens. These can be played to Pass on a trick even if you could otherwise follow suit. Playing a token also allows you to peek at the face-down guilt/innocence card of one of the suspects. This is especially valuable in planning to meet your scoring objective. Otherwise, trick-taking follows standard trick-taking rules, but after each trick the winner takes one of the cards won and plays it to the left or right of one of the suspects where it will help determine whether or not they are convicted. Rosette (pink) suited cards can be played above or below a suspect to add characteristics that also affect scoring.

Because players' objectives fundamentally affect their scoring, there's a hidden role element to the game as players try to guess each others' objectives. These may often coincide. It's probable that each player will use their soulgaze tokens to peek at two of the suspects' guilt/innocence cards, so players will each be playing with imperfect information, perhaps then making inferences about the third suspect from other players' actions. And in keeping with Justice's Factory 42 setting, the game only ends when a player amasses 42 points - so you can expect a full game to run to three or four rounds - so around 45-60 minutes in total.

We've seen an explosion in clever trick-taking games in the past couple of years, and Justice is another welcome addition to the range. If you like trick-taking games with a twist, it'd be a huge miscarriage of Justice if you didn't seek out this game. It's due to launch on Kickstarter on 23 October. We'll add a link to the campaign when it goes live.

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