A Tribal Games Review of Antidote!
A deadly virus threatens the delicate ecosystem of human life and its up to you and your crack team of pandemic experts to find a cure before the spread becomes uncontrollable.
Admittedly a somewhat controversial game to have on our top 5 list this month, but the temptation to keep playing this game during the unfortunate events of this year has kept me on it.
Antidote is an extremely fun card game where the player, through trading and discarding cards, tries to determine which chemical will cure the disease currently ravaging the world. I absolutely adore the different layers between simple and complex this game houses. Being a card game with a limited ruleset, the gameplay is easy to pick up which leaves even novice players with time to think through a strategy. This game is a lot of fun in party environments but absolutely shines within friend and family groups where reading the people you know and seeing through their deceit draws out the most exciting rounds.
How to Play:
To begin with, the "X" cards for each chemical are shuffled and one is removed from the game and hidden face down. This removed card will represent the cure and it will be up to the players to determine what it is. After this, each player will be dealt the remaining "X" cards, along with a number of syringe cards determined by the number of players in the game. A syringe allows players to steal each others cards.
Players will then be dealt number cards for each chemical. At the end of the game the player with the highest number matching the cure wins:
If the cure was red, for example, players would be looking to hold onto the highest number red card.
Once a cards have been dealt, play begins. During their turn, a player can complete one of three actions:
1. Discard a card - Each player has a small space set out in front of them called their workstation. During their turn, a player can decide to discard, meaning that all players in the game simultaneously discard a card from their hand into their workstation. Most cards are discarded face up, with the exception to "X" cards, which are discarded face down.
If a player discarded high value cards for a certain colour, as shown above, it would suggest to other players that the cure is not that colour. In this case, someone has discarded 2 "X" cards and 2 high value number cards. This would suggest that they know the cure is not pink or red.
2. Trade - During their turn a player can announce a trade. During this time they can either trade in a circle, meaning that all players must pass one card to either the right or left. Alternatively two players can directly trade with each other, agreeing on terms for the trade as long as only one card is given per player.
3. Use a syringe - A player can choose to use a syringe on another players hand or their workstation. To use a syringe a card is selected and the syringe replaces that spot. If the syringe is used to take a card from a players hand then that card is selected randomly.
Once each player is down to their last card the game comes to an end. Each player will then reveal their final card to each other and then the cure card is brought back into play and revealed.
A player gains points equal to the score on their last card if it matches the colour of the cure. If a players final card does not match the colour of the cure then they lose points equal to their card.
In the above example the red chemical was the cure, which means that the player with red 3 as their final card scored 3 points winning the round against the player with with the pink 4 who lost 4 points.
8 chemical formulas out of 10
- Replayability – 8/10
Rounds of antidote are short but intense, making it a fantastic option to play a few times over. Changing the number of players also changes the rules and number of cards per round, which makes the experience different each time you play. Replayability for Antidote is also benefited by the number of strategies and the random aspect of the selected cure, giving players more opportunities to earn points and look for a victory.
- Thematic – 6/10
At its base, Antidote is a simple card based deceit game and it sits perfectly within that niche. The theme for the game revolves entirely around curing an unknown disease within a limited amount of time which is well suited to the gameplay presented in Antidote. Comparative to similarly themed games antidote sacrifices immersion for simplicity to invite more players into the world they have created. A game with more strategy elements would feel more immersive and fit the theme better, but would step outside the bounds of their simplistic gameplay.
- Fun Times - 10/10
Antidote is great fun no matter the size of the group. Having such simple rules allows players to easily develop their own playstyle and begin enjoying the game as quickly as possible. By altering the number of people or playing in a friend or family group the game is enhanced with new elements and the fun times prevail.
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