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Review of The Grizzled

Posted Saturday, 23-Mar-2019

A game set in World War I that’s about the people, not the war.

 

Written by Carol LaGrow

 

The Grizzled is a surprising game

The Grizzled is a game about World War I and yet there’s no combat. The Grizzled is about the daily fears of the soldiers, and other things they had to contend with, such as the weather. The players are helped by encouragement from their comrades. The goal is to make it through the trials, and maintain morale until there is peace.

 

The Grizzled box front
The Grizzled box front

 

The Grizzled is a cooperative card game. It is centered around a deck of Trial cards. The Trial cards depict the things that the soldiers faced; Hard Knocks and Threats.

 

The Grizzled Threat cards
The Grizzled Threat cards

 

There are 6 types of threats; night, snow, rain, a shell, a gas mask, and a whistle (which represents the beginning of an assault). Cards have different combinations of threats; a shell in the rain, night and snow, a gas mask and a whistle, or sometimes all six threats on one card.

 

The Grizzled Hard Knocks cards
The Grizzled Hard Knocks cards

 

Hard Knocks might be a phobia of a type of weather or warfare. When a player has a Hard Knock card in front of them that shows a threat, it counts towards the threats in the game while that player is active in the round.

A Hard Knock card may also change an action or reaction of the players, such as requiring a player to withdraw if two identical threats are showing.

There is one card with a green star, called Merry Christmas, which lets a player discard a Hard Knock card from themselves or another player.

 

The Grizzled character cards
The Grizzled character cards

 

There are 6 character cards. One side has a lucky clover, which allows that player to discard a matching threat card. Once the special ability has been used, the player turns over the character card to the other side.

 

Monument and Peace cards
Monument and Peace cards

 

There is a Peace card and a Monument card. They are used as the bases of the two stacks of Trial cards. Players win the game when they uncover the Peace card, and have no more cards in their hands. If the morale drops too low, the Monument card will be visible and the players will lose the game.

 

Support tiles
Support tiles

 

There are 16 Support tiles. Each round, these are secretly selected by each player, and show to whom they are giving their support for that round. The player with the most support each round can get rid of two Hard Knocks cards, or flip over their character card so that the clover side is visible again.

 

Mission Leader standee with Speech tokens
Mission Leader standee with Speech tokens

 

There are 5 Speech tokens, which signify encouragement. When a player has a Speech token, they may choose a threat. All other active players can discard a card from their hand with that threat.

There is a standee to show who is the Mission Leader for the current round. The Mission Leader decides how many cards will be dealt that round, and then deals the cards. It’s an important decision, because too many cards may result in too many cards left in players’ hands, resulting in a large drop in morale, but too few cards may not allow you to reach the Peace card in time.

 

The Grizzled instructions and player aid
The Grizzled instructions and player aid

 

There is also a Game Aid, the same thickness as the tokens, with an illustration on the other side.

 

The Grizzled scales for difficulty and number of players

The Grizzled allows players to choose their difficulty level. For the standard setup, 25 cards are placed face down on the Peace card, and 34 cards are placed face down on the Monument card. Beginning players may choose to ignore the Traps on the Threat cards.

Advanced players may start the Trials pile at 30 cards, making it harder to reach the Peace card, and giving players less of a buffer as morale drops.

 

The Grizzled ready to play
The Grizzled ready to play

 

There is a virtual player for the 2 player game, who only takes part in the Support phase. The other adjustments for a 2 player game are that only 20 cards are placed on the Peace card, double arrow support tiles are removed during setup, and used Speech tokens are discarded from the game. Advanced players may increase the size of the Trials pile for an added challenge.

 

The Grizzled does a lot with relatively little

The Grizzled successfully conveys a sense of trying to survive together, where one person’s actions affect everyone. If a player has a card in front of them depicting snow, that limits what cards other players may play in that round. Sometimes the best thing to do is to withdraw from a Mission, so that your personal phobias don’t affect the rest of that Mission.

You can also have a positive effect on other players by giving a speech, or by giving someone support at the end of the round.

 

Illustration from the back of the player aid
Illustration from the back of the player aid

 

Players are reliant on the Mission Leader to take them forward at a pace that’s neither too fast nor too slow. It can be tense as the Monument card gets closer to being revealed. A good Mission Leader must give thought to how many cards they will deal that turn.

 

Inside of box
Inside of box

 

The artwork is simple but effective. When a Phobia card has a shell on it, it is understood what that represents. The hand-written text on the cards adds to the personal nature of the game. There is a note in the rules that some of the characters in the game were real people, and ancestors of people who worked on the game.

The Grizzled is about evoking thoughts and feelings as much as it is about shuffling cards and playing tiles.

 

Who would like The Grizzled?

The Grizzled is a small box cooperative card game similar to Onirim. It has an unexpected real-life theme with cooperative play like Flash Point: Fire Rescue.

 

Contents in box
Contents in box

 

Budget-conscious gamers will like its $20 price range, and those with limited shelf space, or who carry games to a game night, will like its box size (it’s about as large as a stack of CDs).

 

Box sides, stacked view
Box sides, stacked view

 

The Grizzled doesn’t require a large table or a big block of time. The playing time is given as 30 minutes, and while it might be a few minutes longer for a 4 player teaching game, you can probably do set up to clean up in about 45 minutes.

Even players who normally don’t like games with virtual players may find that they enjoy The Grizzled. The virtual player in this case isn’t a full player. It is really just a placeholder to give a third support token during the Support phase.

 

Inside of box
Inside of box

 

The Grizzled is one of those games where more people will probably enjoy it than would have picked it up on their own. It’s a game that is likely to spark conversation, or at least reflection among the players.

 

If you’re ready to buy, find the best price for The Grizzled here.

The Grizzled: At Your Orders includes rules for solitaire play.

The Grizzled: Armistice Edition is for 1-4 players, and contains a campaign mechanism.

Published by BoardGamePrices.com



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