Poison (Playroom Entertainment, 2005) is a creation of Reiner Knizia – whose name is prominently displayed on the box cover. If you aren’t a gamer, then you should know that Reiner is one of the most highly regarded game creators of the past 20 years, and has created hundreds of games.
I played Poison when it first came out in 2005, and it immediately went on my list, although by the time I tried to buy it, it wasn’t easy to find. It’s a great family game that takes about 5 minutes to learn and one (quick) round to really understand.
The concept is simple enough, and it seems like it should be easy to duplicate with a regular deck of cards – but that is not the case. The game consists of three cardboard “cauldrons” (see below), and a deck of cards of four different colors. Red, Blue, and Purple cards are regular point cards, but green cards are poison! The regular cards have various values (1, 2, 4, 6, 7 only; this is important), but poison cards are always worth 4.
On a turn, players place a card in one of the three cauldrons. Once a cauldron has a color, no other color may be added, and no other cauldron may include that color; hence there is an element 0f following suit. If by adding a card a player goes over 13 points in any cauldron, they must leave the card they played and take the rest of the stack. That’s usually a bad thing, unless that player has a chance of having the most cards of that suit, in which case that’s a good thing. Once all the cards have been played, the round is over and scores are tallied.
The players who had the majority of cards in any color are immune to the effects of that color. All other players with cards of that color must take one point for each other card. The poison (green) cards are worth two instead of one, and no immunity is possible from poison.
Such a simple game, but true to its theme, attractive, and fun! I recommend it to any family or group that includes mixed ages. Kids older than 8 should be able to grasp it and have fun playing, but groups of adults can have fun playing it too.