Slapshot

From: Columbia Games

Reviewed by: Sitting Duck

As Barry’s review of 1st and 10 has indicated, the stereotype of tabletop gamers and sports not mixing is at best an exaggerated one. While I myself am not especially passionate about sports, I won’t run screaming out of the room if someone decides to watch the game on TV. If there’s one sport for which I have a preference towards it would be ice hockey, so when Ron asked if I was willing to do a review for Slapshot, I took him up on it almost immediately.

From the website:
“Slapshot is a wheeling, dealing game for hockey fans. Each player assumes the role of team manager. The object is to skillfully manage your team into the playoffs and then win the championship.”

There are three card decks, each based off of one of the basic ice hockey positions (Forward, Defenseman, and Goalie). Each card features a punny player name along with a goofy player illustration and a Value ranging from zero to ten. The best names are featured on the highest and lowest valued cards. The high value ones reflect their awesomeness (Slash Gordon, Moby Stick), while the low value ones reflect their lameness (Billy the Skid, Chief Sitting Bench). At the start of the game, each player is dealt three forwards, two defensemen, and one goalie to form his/her team.

On his turn, a player may choose to perform one of three actions; Trade, Draft, or Game. The first two are used to improve the quality of your team. With a Trade, the player randomly draws a card from another player’s deck and gives back a card of the same position. With a Draft, the player places a card in his team at the bottom of its deck and takes the top card from the same deck. In both cases, the new card must be accepted, even if it’s worse than the card being given up. Therefore, those actions should not be used injudiciously.

The Game action is the real meat of Slapshot. A player may challenge any other player to a game. The challenging player counts as the away team while the challenged is considered at home. To reflect the home field advantage, the home team gets a free goal. Before the game starts, both players may arrange their team decks in any order they wish. However that order cannot be changed once the game starts. The gameplay is nearly identical to the children’s card game War, except the winner of each round doesn’t claim the card played by the loser. Each player draws the top card from their deck and the one with the higher value scores a goal. If both cards have the same value, then neither player scores. There’s also no scoring if one of the cards is a Goalie card, regardless of their values. If both cards are Goalies, then the higher value scores a goal as normal. This continues until the players have used up their decks. The player who scored the most goals gets to move their token one space on the Scoreboard. If there was a tie in goals, then a sudden death match is played. Gameplay is identical to the earlier game except that victory goes to the first player to successfully score a goal.

Bruisers are a special type of card to reflect the violent nature of ice hockey. Whenever one of the cards played during a game is a Bruiser, then the other card is considered Injured and goes to the bottom of the appropriate deck. If the injured player has a higher value than the Bruiser, a goal is still successfully scored. If by some chance both cards played are bruisers, then both are considered injured. At the end of the game, a free Draft action is taken to replace each injured player. Using Bruisers can be a double-edged sword. For while their ability to inflict injuries is useful, their actual values tend to be low.

Once a player successfully reaches the Playoffs space on the Scoreboard, he engages in a best-of-seven series against the second place player. If there’s a tie for second, those players engage in a best of three series to determine which of them goes to the finals. The first place player is considered the home team for games one, two, five, and seven. The first to win four becomes league champion and wins the game.

From the subtitle:
“The legendary card game of ice hockey loonery.”

While overall Slapshot is a fine game, there is one very minor (almost picayune) issue I have. Namely there’s nothing included in the game materials for keeping track of goal scoring. Admittedly this is rather trivial, as any gamer worth his dice bag could improvise something with minimal effort. Still, it would have been a nice thing to have.

At the end of the day, this is a top notch game. The simple rules mean that it can be taught to just about anyone. The minimal space and set up requirements as well as the short playing time allow for it to be playable just about anywhere. These factors make it especially suited as a starter for a gaming night or something to play during a lunch break.

Rating: 18

Product Summary

Slapshot

From: Columbia Games

Type of Game: Card

Game Design by: Tom Dalgliesh and Lance Gutteridge

Game Components Included: Rulesheet, 27 Forward cards, 18 Defenseman cards, 9 Goalie cards, 1 Scoreboard, and 6 Tokens.

Retail Price: $24.98

Number of Players: 2-6

Player Ages: 8+

Play Time: 30-60 minutes

Website: http://www.columbiagames.com

Reviewed by: Sitting Duck