We play games both fast and slow in our group, so we like to make sure we’ve got a mix of both at any given time. The problem is that with a fast game, you often don’t get the same level of satisfaction that you do when you’re playing a long game, but that’s often countered by being able to play several games in the same amount of time.
So in the first of todays reviews, we’re going to take a look at the fast game for last night.
In Alarm, you play criminals who are on the run for committing some unspecified crime. The deck consists of different cards that are drawn to represent what’s resources are being thrown into the hunt. Play is simple and consists of each player in turn drawing cards one at a time and then assigning them to the players around the table until they have drawn one card for each player. As a player draws the card, they decide which player (including themselves) to assign the card to. There are bonuses as well as negatives to the cards being drawn, for example, a Bone will negate a Dog card, a key will negate a lock and a pair of bolt cutters will negate a chain.
The final of the cards is money, and although too much money will result in you landing in jail, there is a second part of the game when the group is down to two players that we’ll come to shortly in which money is essential.
Any of the following combinations of cards in front of them will send a player to jail.
Every players has a get out of jail free card that they can flip once and once only. This card has the effect of negating whatever card was last played on them, but nothing else. As a result, they will still be vulnerable to the same card being played on them again, but it will keep them out of jail for the moment, As evidenced below.
When all the players except two are eliminated, the game shifts gear and in addition to playing the cards that they draw every turn, every players turn starts by removing one of their money cards. If they have no money cards, they go to jail.
It’s fast, from the point at which we started playing to the end of the first game was four minutes (with three players), there’s nothing to remember as far as the cards go, each player gets a reference card that shows them the combinations that will send them to jail and everything else is explained on the cards as they are drawn. There are cards that cause shuffling of cards from one player to the next and cards that can allow you to take cards from other players without them being able to do anything about it.
It’s a very simple game, learn in two minutes, play in five, it plays well, and can be played a number of times without the game becoming stale.