Groo The Game
I have been playing this non-collectable card game with the kids quite a few times over the last few days. They all seem to enjoy it even the 7-year-old who has difficulty with reading the cards. I find it rather fun although it seems to be largely a game of luck. A worry is that this is an imported American game and I am a little concerned with the handling that the cards get from the kids.
Groo comes as a basic set of 60 cards and 7 dice and an expansion box of 50 more cards. I have bought both and discovered that the combined set will now not fit in either box. Some of the cards are duplicates and others are available only with the expansion pack. One of the cards represents Groo and is used as a marker, others are red buildings that have a point value, you need 7 points to win. Green troop cards are used to attack or defend, the players count up points and any excess owned by the attacker destroys that many points of defending buildings. All engaged army cards are then discarded. Red cards are wild, they can be played at any time to change some rules. Purple cards are events that must be played immediately. There is only 1 event in the basic pack. Last we have the yellow Groo cards that are used to cause trouble at Groo’s current location.
Each player may have up to 5 cards and begins a turn by discarding any unwanted cards and drawing up to a hand of 5. The player may then attack. Next the 7 dice are rolled, 1 may move Groo and the other 6 have symbols for men, money, supplies or Groo. Each card has symbols on it and if you roll the right dice you can play the card, building units, buildings or using Groo. Groo effects are usually bad but some will allow Groo to move to another town. If the rolling player cannot use any dice results the next player around the table gets to use the remainder and the dice pass around until they have been used or all players pass. The rolling player then wins if all others have had a chance to use the dice and he has 7 points of buildings. If not he refills to 5 cards and play proceeds to the next player. Red and purple cards do not depend on the dice for use and some cards can be used to influence the dice roll when they are in play.
The basic box recommends 2-4 players and the expansion allows 2 more. Having played a few 2-player games I can say that Groo is a lot better with 3 or 4. With 2 players Groo will tend to stay still or swap between players, with more there is a degree of uncertainty as to where Groo goes and he moves more often. Even with 3 or 4 it is possible to win in a couple of rounds if you get the right dice and cards. A spot of luck can see a player go from 3 to 7 or more buildings in a single turn, unless Groo is at that town or enough Groo heads are rolled to move him he cannot be stopped. Players have to cut the leader down when he reaches 3 points of town although the right cards and dice may not come up for this. Games can be over in 5 minutes, 30 minutes is a good game and much over 1 hour of back to back Groo is as much as I can take. Also on the luck front some cards are more useful than others. There is a card that protects your army against Groo and another that protects the town, if you have both then a win is most likely. Army attacks don’t happen too often because it leaves the attacker and defender weak, Groo is the most common way to take down an opponent. It is quite possible to go from 4 victory points and an army to nothing with 1 pass of the dice around the table.