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We recently featured Scram! (Bezier Games) on Board's Eye View. Ellie Dix's Skullduggery, from Outset Media and Cheatwell Games, uses similar bait & switch mechanics but the 2-6 players are all out for themselves: unlike Scram!, Skullduggery is not a team game.

As you might guess from the skull and crossbones on the box, this is a notionally pirate-themed game but to be honest the theme could just've easily been secret agents or spies. Players each start with four face-down cards. At the start of the game, and only at the start, they can peek at their middle two cards. The object is to have the highest four-digit number showing when all the cards are revealed at the end of the game.

On your turn you draw a card and either discard it or use it to replace one of the cards in your four-card lineup, discarding the card you've replaced. Once per game you can replace one of the cards in the lineup of the player to your left, and once per game you can replace a card from the lineup of the player to your right. In any event, the card you discard triggers the action shown on the card:

  • Pass Left requires all players to pass their leftmost card to the player to their left and the passed cards are added to the right of the player' lineups

  • Pass Right requires all players to pass their rightmost card to the player to their right and the passed cards are added to the left of the player' lineups

  • Switch requires you to switch your own leftmost and rightmost cards (without peeking)

  • Peek lets you look at your own leftmost or rightmost card

  • Sneak lets you look at the rightmost card of the player to your left or the leftmost card of the player to your right

  • Spyglass requires all players to flip face up one of their middle cards. This is repeated for the other middle card when a second Spyglass is discarded. When a third Spyglass is discarded, the game immediately ends.

Skullduggery is a memory game; particularly challenging at higher player counts, where there will be a lot of cards to try to remember and keep track of. When you know or think you know where high and low value cards are, you'll try to manipulate your own and others' lineups so that you have highest value card in the leftmost position (and second from left in the event of a tie). Skilled skullduggers will also position cards in their lineup not necessarily for their value but for the action they trigger when discarded, and it can prove to be an effective strategy to hold on to a Spyglass card in your lineup so that you can discard the third Spyglass when you deduce that you are in a winning position. The game plays quickly (10-15 minutes) so can serve both as a lively family game and as a 'take that' filler.

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