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The Great Split

The title pretty much sums up this game from Horrible Guild, designed by Hjalmar Hach and Lorenzo Silva. The core mechanic in The Great Split is 'I split, you choose' and it's a great game.

Players have individual dual-layer player boards that comprise a series of tracks. Over six rounds, you'll be playing cards to advance markers along the tracks to maximise your score. Each of the tracks on the upper part of your board corresponds to a different type of precious item, and each scores in a different way. The tracks in the lower part of the board can earn you end-game multipliers. The 2-7 players all have unique character cards that initially advance markers along some tracks, so players start off asymmetrically and that may well influence which cards they particularly want to go for.

The way you get the cards you play is through the 'I split, you choose' mechanic. You take your hand of initially five cards and split them in any way you choose, putting a 'splitter card' as the divider. You place the cards in your wallet and you pass it to the player on your left. They then choose which side of the split to keep and they return the others to you. Likewise, you'll choose which split to accept from the wallet passed to you from the player to your right. Deciding where to put the splitter card is a classic card drafting dilemma - you know which cards you ideally want to keep but you'll need to offer in the other part of the split an attractive enough offer that the player you are passing to will choose that. Sometimes that will mean offering them more cards; sometimes it will mean offering them cards that, from looking at their player board, you know they are going to want.

The beauty of the game is that players are all agonising over these dilemmas simultaneously, so you play with the maximum player count of seven players without materially increasing the player time from a three-player game. You are only ever directly interacting tho' with the players to your immediate left and right: in a seven-player game it's possible that cards passed to your left in the first round may eventually find their way back to you but it's highly unlikely that you'll see them again. What's more possible is that after the 'I split, you choose' phase you could end up with more cards in your hand than you started with, and more than the hand size for the round. Where that happens, you'll have to discard down - so it isn't always going to give you a material advantage to accept the split that gives you the most cards.

With the different scoring for each track, the multiplier effects and cards that give players a choice over which track to advance, The Great Split is undeniably a 'mathsy' game, and the treasures theme is only a thin veneer on an essentially abstract game (notwithstanding the art from Weberson Santiago) but that hasn't in any way dampened our enthusiasm for the game. There are modified rules for playing with two players but we'd recommend it for three or more. And if we were playing a variant of the game where board games were offered in the 'I split, you choose' wallet, it would have to be a very tempting offer for us not to choose the card grouping that included The Great Split.

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