I Drank What?

From:  Empire Games
Reviewed by:  Ron McClung

I Drank What? is a new Card Game from Empire Games.

A small gaming company is making a lot of noise in my local area.  Empire Games rose out of a group of friends who simply have a lot of gaming ideas they want to share.  In the interest of full disclosure, I know these guys and went to college with some of them.  Some I used to game with quite a bit.  When I found out that they were starting a gaming company, I was surprised they had the guts to do it, but not surprised because I know these guys love games, know games and know how to make games.

The noise they are making is around the table playing their first game – I Drank What?.  I have had them at two of the conventions I coordinate games for – MACE and ConCarolinas – and both times, their tables have been surrounded by laughing and screaming players having a great time with this game.  It is bordering on a phenomenon, so I had to take the opportunity to review it and see what it was all about.

Also in the interest of full disclosure, they put my name in the “Special Thanks” section of the rules.  I did not know they had done that.

From page #1:
“A game of Wine, Poison, & Comedy”

The game setting, if you will, is a social party where all players are participants.  Like at any high society party, wine is being passed around and secretly someone is poisoning the wine.  The object of the game is to use the cards to avoid being poisoned and be the last person standing.  The game comes with two sets of cards – the Wine Deck and the Play Deck.  There are 20 cards in the Wine Deck – 5 Poison and 15 Wine.  Cards from the Wine Deck are played face down until either a card instructs you to or you are forced to turn it over.  There are 60 cards in the Play Deck – 36 Action and 24 Reaction cards. Actions cards can be played on your turn, and Reaction cards can be played as per the instructions of the cards.

After shuffling the Play Deck, players start with 4 cards from it.  The Wine Deck is formed by taking a number of Wine cards equal to one less than the number of players plus one Poison card.  The remaining Poison and Wine cards are set aside and used later.  One card from the Wine deck is dealt to each player.  Therefore, someone is going to have the poison card.  The remaining Wine and Poison cards that were set aside are then shuffled and form the Wine Cellar Deck.

Play starts with the Toastmaster, who usually is the owner of the game, and goes around the table to the left.  On a player’s turn, he may either play an Action Card or pass. Action Cards can include cards like “Oops” (shuffle any player’s Wine card into the Wine Cellar Deck and deal another), Inhale Deeply (look at any player’s Wine Card without revealing it to other players), or Inept Somelier (exchange Wine Cards with the person of your choice without revealing) as well as a few others.  There are 12 varieties of different actions that can be taken, with 3 cards of each in the deck.  This makes for a good variety of options.  If a player decides to take an Action Card, he can play up to two of his Actions cards face down on the table.  If he passes, he may discard up to two cards and replace them immediately.  If the player has no cards, he may pass and take two cards from the Play Deck.

Once the player has played an Action Card or passed, he can then issue a Drink Challenge.  In this case, the player picks an opponent.  The opponent may refuse but in either case, the challenger must drink.  If the opponent accepts, he too must drink.  You drink by flipping over your Wine card.  Any player with a Poison Card is eliminated from the game.  Any player that does not have a Poison Card draws one card from the Play deck. Play continues until there is a winner.

From the back cover
“It is the party of the year and all your worst enemies are invited.”

Reaction Cards are played whenever the conditions explained on the card are right.  There are 8 varieties of Reaction Cards, with 3 of each type.  These are the little surprises that your opponents might have hidden that can really ruin your day.

One interesting aspect of the game is called a Toast.  There are 3 Toast Cards in the Actions, but that is not the only way to call a Toast.  The second way to call a Toast is just after a player is poisoned.  Only the Toastmaster can call a Toast in honor of the fallen and if he is already out of the game, the person to the left is the new Toastmaster.  After a Toast, the Wine Service is reset, meaning the Wine Deck is reshuffled and people are given new cards from the Wine Deck as described in the set up.

The cards are of reasonably good quality and should stand up to regular playing.  The art and photography on the cards are pretty good, very appropriate for the game, and do not take away from it.  There are a few small editing issues I found in the rule book, but otherwise these guys know how to explain a game well.

In conclusion, one thing I liked most about this game is that the number of players is from four to ten.  With this game, the more players you have, the more fun you have.  It is a blast to play.  It is one of those “screw your neighbor” games.  It is very imaginative and surprisingly intuitive.  It also plays fast, but of course the more players you have, the slower it will go.  I enjoyed the game very much and can see why they attract so much attention at the cons they go to.

For more details on Empire Games and their new Card Game “I Drank What?” check them out at their website http://www.empiregames.us, and at all of your local game stores.

I Drank What?
From: Empire Games
Type of Game: Card Game
Game Design by: Scott Messer
Developed by: David Pendragon, Jason Davis, Wayne Delisle, Jr.
Card Photography: Altered Aperture
Number of Pages: 1 page rule book
Game Components Included: 5 Poison cards, 15 Wine Cards, 36 Action Cards, 24 Reaction Cards, Rules
Retail Price: $ 18.95 (US)
Number of Players: 4-10
Player Ages: 13+
Play Time: 30+
Website: www.empiregames.us

Reviewed by: Ron McClung
Date: 9/1/2008