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Rest in Peace

This game's title suggests a graveyard theme but the background premise for this two-player game is of two feuding families whose enmity has endured beyond the grave so that their ghosts are now competing over which will haunt their various manors and castles. If the theme doesn't capture your interest, don't worry - it's pretty much pasted on anyway. Rest in Peace is actually a light but well-designed hand management game where you play cards from your hand to win the castle or manor token at up to 10 locations.

You compete for the locations one by one. You are playing cards from your hand, initially of five cards, but players draw two cards from their individual decks at the start of each round. You play cards for their face value (1 - 6) and you can play any number of cards from your hand to the location. The winner takes the castle or manor token at the location but the loser takes the location card itself, and each of these cards gives an individual benefit on a subsequent bid. To win the game, a player needs to collect 4 manor tokens or 3 castle tokens, so you need to keep an eye on what your opponent has won so far but you don't need to win every location and, for some, especially if you particularly fancy that card's reward, you may be better off conceding rather than burning through more of the cards in your hand.

In effect, each location becomes a bidding tug of war. For those tokens you don't win, you want to ensure that your opponent doesn't win too cheaply. You are each playing with identical decks of 21 cards: 6 at value 1; 5 at 2; 4 at 3; 3 at 4; 2 at 5 and 1 at 6. There's scope therefore for card counters to keep track of the high value cards players have already burnt through.

There are special rules for determining the final location but you'll find a player will often meet the winning condition before you reach round 10. Nevertheless, the rules for this (involving cards played face down to that location) add to the tension of what is a quick but exciting card game: you can expect to complete a game in around 15 minutes.

There's a fair amount of variety in the location cards available for use: you only use nine of them in each game and you're drawing these from a deck of 29. The iconography on the cards supposedly shows the special ability they confer but some of the icons are less obvious than others. Happily, the rules provide a clear explanation of what each card can do. The varied abilities tho' add to the replayability of designer Fabien Gridel's game.

Tho' the cards are small, they are linen coated and robust, and, with art by Anne Heidisieck, Blue Cocker have done a good job in the production of this very playable card game.

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