Christmas Lights the Card Game Review- 'Tis(n't) the Season, but get your Christmas cards early this year!
Review by: Jillian Schmett
Last Christmas, I gave you my card
And the very next play, you gave it away…
I could keep going here but I’ll spare you. Honestly, I don’t want to admit how much more of that song I parodied in my head last night while trying to fall asleep.
Hey everyone! This week I wanted to share my thoughts on a game that is coming to Kickstarter in a couple weeks, Christmas Lights the Card Game. I know what you’re probably thinking, “it’s only May! We have a whole summer and fall to get through before I start thinking about Christmas again!” (unless you’re one of those awesome people who love everything about Christmas all year.) Let’s face it, though… Santa is watching. He sees you when you’re sleeping, and he knows when you’re awake and making terrible attempts at being clever by rewriting well-known Christmas songs to fit into the theme of your blog this week. More importantly though, launching a Kickstarter now ensures that backers will receive this game in time to enjoy it this holiday season, and I think that was the right choice for 25th Century Games!
Christmas Lights the Card Game is designed by Adam Collins and Chad Head and comes in an adorable little box modeled after actual vintage Christmas light packaging. The game comes with a 58 card Bulb Deck, 12 card Event Deck, 18 card Pattern Deck, and 6 Character Cards. All of the art (by artist Dave Perillo) is reminiscent of the Christmas classics that I love watching with my family every year, and is really colorful and fun.
In the game, players will be competing to be the first to complete two sets of lights before anyone else. During setup, Event, Pattern, and Bulb decks will be shuffled separately. Players are each dealt 2 pattern cards, which they will look at but keep secret. These are their objective cards. Next, each player is dealt 5 bulb cards which they will not look at. Players may never look at their hand, unless a card specifies so.
Players will fan out their 5 bulb cards and hold them face out in front of them, so the other players can see their hand (think Hanabi style). Each turn, they may perform an action from up to 4 different phases (they do not need to complete all 4, but must complete the ones they choose in the order listed).
Swap allows players to trade one card from their hand with a card from another players’ hand. Once a card is in your hand you are not allowed to look at it again, but you may “mark” the cards by placing them sideways or upside down so you can remember which one it is.
Play allows players to place one card from their hand, placing it onto the table into their set. These cards must be placed in order, following the pattern on the pattern card they are trying to complete. Once a pattern is completed, a plug card must be played before moving on to the next pattern (the next set of lights wouldn’t work if it wasn’t plugged into the previous one!)
Sale allows players to place one card from their hand face up on the table and draw one bulb card from the bulb deck, placing it face up next to their card. Then they may choose either one of the cards to play into their set, and/or they may trade a bulb to another player for information (i.e. “Do I have any pink bulbs in my hand?”)
Hand Refill is the last action and allows players to draw back up to a hand of 5 cards.
There are special broken bulb cards in the deck, which when played will act as a placeholder in a pattern so players may place later bulbs in the set. Before completing their set, they must replace the broken bulbs with the correct color to complete their pattern.
Some cards in the deck are Event Markers, and if these are played during either the Play or Sale phases, they will trigger an event from the Event Deck. These have varying affects on gameplay.
Christmas Lights is a delightful, fun little game for 2-6 players that plays in 10-30 minutes. It’s very simple to learn and teach and can be enjoyed by the whole family. The first time I played, I was interrupted (ugh, kids) and had to cut the game short, and I couldn’t wait to play again and finish a game because it was that fun.
There is a decent amount of luck in the game since you’re depending on card draws to give you the bulbs you need for your set, but it works just fine since the game isn’t complex and plays quickly. Having to remember what you have in your hand and where it is, and also not knowing what the other part of your hand is makes for interesting gameplay that keeps your attention throughout. There isn’t much downtime at all since there is so much interaction with players swapping cards and information.
Oh, and did I mention there are going to be NINE bonus games?! That’s right, there will be nine more games covering a range of complexity by various designers that can be played with just the components in the box.
For me, this is a no-brainer. I will definitely be backing this game and may even get a few extra copies to give as gifts this year. If you’d like to stay updated, I suggest following the Christmas Lights A Card Game facebook page, which I’ll link below, and be sure to check out the Kickstarter page when they launch on May 29th!
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