Gamewright games have always amused me. With titles like Sushi Go!, Go Nuts for Donuts and Forbidden Island, they’ve proven consistent entry points for new players looking to start playing board games, providing their own spin on the card drafting, simultaneous action and cooperative genres.
Now, Gamewright is putting their own twisted little spin on deck-building games with Abandon All Artichokes, a classy little two-to-four player ‘deck-destruction’ game that provides a wonderful entry point into the genre.
TLDR: Abandon All Artichokes is a speedy deck-building card game where players draft vegetable cards from a central garden and use their respective card abilities to rid their hand and deck of artichoke cards. The first player to draw a hand free of artichokes cards immediately wins the game. Simple rules make this easy to learn, but the game also possesses a take-that mechanism that allows players to ‘sabo’* each other, and a surprising amount of strategic depth.
Abandon All Artichokes starts with a simple premise. Your produce garden has been overrun by artichokes. While I’m partial to the occasional roasted artichoke myself, there comes a point where too-many-is-too-many – hence the quest to get rid of them.
Game play is amazingly simple. Player start with a deck of ten artichoke cards and these titular annoyances of the game do nothing beyond clog up you hand. In the center of the board, a five-card ‘Garden’ row of vegetables is laid out, all waiting to be harvested into players hands to begin artichoke destruction.
During a player’s turn, players can harvest a single vegetable from the garden and add it to their hand. If you’ve been following, starting hands will be filled entirely with artichokes. After that, they can play any number of cards from their hands, using card abilities, usually to trash artichokes from their personal deck.
Each vegetable card comes with it’s own abilities, be they the Potato granting players a chance to fish a fresh card from their deck, or the Carrot trashing itself and taking a pair of artichoke cards with it, selective use of vegetable card abilities, will slowly thin a player’s deck of artichoke cards (occasionally to the detriment of a neighboring player).
After all cards that a player desires to play are played, players discard their hand and draw a full hand of five cards before ending their turn. If at this point, they draw a hand free of artichoke cards, the game immediately ends in a win.
Beneath it’s cutesy skin, Abandon All Artichokes possesses a surprising amount of depth in how it’s cards interact. Certain cards such as carrots for instance, are efficient means of clearing artichokes, but due to them not sticking around, lack long term impact in shielding your hand from drawing more artichoke cards. Others, like Eggplants, are great take-that mechanics, allowing players to transfer unwanted artichokes to their neighbor, or mess with a player attempting to stuff their deck with non-artichoke cards.
Ultimately though Abandon All Artichokes, keeps a nice layer of strategy, allowing players multiple routes to victory. The randomness of cards available in the garden row also force players to adapt on the fly, keeping the game fresh over multiple play-throughs.
On the other hand, the game is also simple and fast enough not to wear out its welcome for players seeking a simple distraction. While it rewards players looking to develop strategies, Abandon All Artichoke’s twenty minute playtime and simple rules make it easy to teach and avoid overly punishing players seeking a quick round of cards.
A welcome entry to the often daunting deck-building game genre, Abandon All Artichokes looks to be another evergreen Gamewright hit. Players looking for a fast, cute and surprisingly strategic card game, will not be disappointed with this adorable little tin.
– Kenneth, Games @ PI Manager
Available now at Games @ PI and the Games @ PI Webstore
* A colloquial Singlish shortening of the word ‘sabotage’, used to describe a situation where someone has jeopardized the plans or safety of others.