Designed by Adrie Drent, with art by Tristan Rossi, Télos is a trick-taking card game for 3-6 players where the only trick that really matters for each hand is the last one, and you do not want to win that trick. That's because you'll score points for that trick equal to the value of the card you played that won the trick, and the game is lost by the first player to accumulate 32 points - everyone else is declared joint winner.
Télos is themed around the Greek gods but the theme is more decorative than intrinsic to the game. It's played with eight sets of cards numbered 1-13. You might be tempted to think of these as suits but they are not - their different colours don't matter, they are just there to help you distinguish sets during the game set up: you only use all eight sets for a six-player game; you take out a set for each player count below six, so you'll just use five sets in a three-player game.
The first round is played with a hand of seven cards (so seven tricks) but if the card that won the last trick is higher than 7, then the number of cards dealt to each player is increased to match that number. When a card is led, the next player must either match that card or be higher than the previous card played. If you cannot match or beat that card, you must play the lowest value card in your hand. This sets up an interesting dynamic: you'll want to leave yourself with the lowest possible card for the all-important last trick but if others play high cards that you can't follow then you'll be forced to discard your lowest value cards.
There are a couple of special rules that add to the fun, and the tactics. You can't do this for the first or last trick of the round but if you have multiple cards then you can play them together. If, as in the example shown in our game in progress on Board's Eye View, a player leads with three 6s, then all three cards played by the next player must be 6 or higher. If you cannot at least match all three cards then you have to play the three lowest cards in your hand; you cannot play one higher card and just two lower: so playing multiples is a great way of drawing out other players' lower value cards to stand you in better stead of not winning that final trick.
The other special rules concern the Zeus cards. These have no number but are deemed to equal the previous card played. You can't lead with a Zeus card unless it's the last round, but if you win the last round with a Zeus card it'll lumber you with a crippling 20 points. The six Zeus cards in the deck all sport different symbols and you can optionally play with these each imposing their game-changing effects. The rules also suggest the option of playing with a 'Divine Trick': a face-down card for each player that they can choose to swap for a card in their hand. This introduces an additional push-your-luck gamble into the mix.
Télos is quick to learn and our games have mostly taken no more than 20 minutes - a learning and playing time that even Hermes would be pleased with. Jolly Dutch have done their usual good job with the game's production - fitting it into a pocketable-sized box, so this is a game you can take anywhere to break out to play.