Updated: Oct 24, 2020
You turn up at a Hawaiian luau. You see the hula dancers in their grass skirts and snugly fitting coconut bras but as you accept a Mai Tai cocktail from your host you realise you are underdressed. You've arrived at the luau without a lei so you quickly set to work threading yourself a floral garland...
That's pretty much the premise for Lucky Luau, a light appealing easy-to-play card game from CardLords. It's a set collection game where you're picking up cards from a loose mush rather than a neatly stacked deck. You don't maintain a hand - you either accept the card and add it to your lei (always adding cards to the right of the previous card) or you discard the card you picked up back into the central pool. However, the discarded cards are all face up...
Flowers in your lei mostly only score when they are adjacent to other specific colours, so you won't want to keep and add to your lei every card you pick up. On the other hand, you'll be very conscious of the fact that your face-up discard could be just the card that a rival player needs to add to their lei for a decent score. This simple mechanic makes for an interesting push-your-luck game, and one that works equally well at all of the 2–6 player counts.
Players each have a couple of single-use tools: a Spacer that lets you reserve a place in the lei for a card you don't yet have, and a Knife that lets you cut any card from your lei (removing it from the game). Judicious use of these tools, and the Fish Hook (which scores you 10 points if it ends up as the middle card in your lei), can help you to build a high-scoring run. You can also boost your score by meeting the conditions set on any of the three 'guest' cards laid out at random at the start of the game.
In Lucky Luau, designer Jeff Boltz has come up with a set collection and pattern building game that's simple enough for even quite young children to play yet there's enough depth to keep seasoned gamers competitively engaged for its 20 minutes filler-length playing time. The game benefits too from Anastas Ermolina's attractive illustrations.
Lucky Luau launched on Kickstarter on 15 September. Click here for a Fish Hook to the Kickstarter campaign.