I’m always elated to find a game at thrift by companies which we know make wonderful hobby games. Too often the shelves are full of mass-market hits and failures. There’s no lack of copies of Scene It, Trivial Pursuit or Monopoly. So, when we see a game by a company who also exhibits at conventions like Gen Con, it must be added to our collection.
This week’s winner is Rumpelstiltskin by AEG. Originally issued in 2005, this two-player micro card game consists of only twenty-two cards, two of which are reference cards. The other twenty cards are divided up into two identical decks of ten with different colored backs. Each player will take one deck and shuffle it face-down.
All cards are numbered one through ten and the object of Rumpelstiltskin is to guess the card on the bottom of your opponent’s deck. Each person begins the game by drawing five cards into their hand. The remaining cards in your pile will form a draw deck, which is placed in front of you. Cards also feature colorful caricatures and names, along with actions and possibly a reaction.
On your turn you will play a card from your hand to a discard pile next to your draw deck. When played, you perform the action listed on the card. This will vary from manipulating the deck, forcing your opponent to reveal cards, or even allowing you a guess at their bottom card. Once your action is complete, the other player does the same.
Guessing is how you win the game. But it isn’t as simple as randomly guessing the last card in their deck. You can narrow down the possibilities by observing the cards in their discard pile and keeping track of guesses already made (there is only one of each number in the deck). Even if you guess correctly, your opponent may have a reaction card to play to prevent your win.
If you run out of cards in your hand, you will draw the top card from the deck and play it. If that deck also runs out, you immediately lose the game since your opponent has now seen your last card. The first player to correctly deduce the current bottom card on their opponent’s deck is the winner of Rumpelstiltskin. Wooden cubes are included in case you wish to make it best two-out-of-three or three-out-of-five.
This tiny game reminded us of Love Letter by the same company. In fact, the small footprint of Rumpelstiltskin lends itself to easy travel if you leave the mostly-empty box at home. Third-party sellers still have this game on Amazon for under the original retail price. Since it’s been out for so long, you might get lucky and find a thrift copy for much less – and there’s only twenty-two cards to inventory!