This The Grizzled card game review was made after playing the game 9 times.
What is The Grizzled?
The Grizzled is a unique cooperative card game in which you’re trying to simply survive World War I with your fellow soldiers. Your job isn’t to fight, but instead to outlast the fighting that is going on around you.
The Grizzled Gameplay
In the beginning of the game, each player is given three support tokens that they can use later on to help their teammates. There is a deck of 25 Trials cards that are placed on top of the Peace card, and the remaining 34 Trials cards are then put on the Monument card.
The Mission Leader (first player) starts out each round by deciding how intense he/she wants the current round to be; this is when they choose how many Trials cards each player gets. You want to draw as many cards as you can, but you run the risk of losing the game if you have too many cards at the end of each round. The total amount of cards left in the players’ hands after each round are drawn from the monument deck and put on top of the peace deck, representing the group’s morale going down.
During the main phase of the game, players will go on missions and attempt to discard as many cards as they can onto the middle of the table (No Man’s Land). Each card can have one or more of six different “threats” on it: Rain, Snow, Night, a Bullet, a Gas Mask, or a Whistle. Players lay down one card at a time and try to avoid ever matching three of those threats, which will result in an immediate mission loss. You could also end up getting Hard Knocks, which are negative effects that effect both you and your team until they’re removed.
When a player doesn’t have any more cards or simply doesn’t want to risk playing one, they end their turn by secretly playing one of their support tokens. Once everyone has chosen a support token to use, the player who has the majority of support chooses to either get their good luck charm (special ability) back or remove up to two Hard Knocks cards.
At the end of a round, the Mission Leader gets to take a Speech token. These tokens are very powerful if used correctly since they allow the player to choose one of the six threats and anyone who has one of those cards can discard them.
If anyone ever has four or more Hard Knocks cards in front of them at the end of a round, everyone loses. You’ll also lose if the Monument card is ever revealed, meaning that morale has dropped too far. You’ll win if your team can reveal the Peace card (no Trials cards left on top of it) and no one has any cards left in their hands.
That’s just a rough overview of the game. Take a look at the The Grizzled rulebook on BoardGameGeek if you want a more detailed write-up of the rules.
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- The Grizzled is a cooperative game through and through. Most of the time you have to read your teammates’ plays so you can perfectly time playing Trials cards, using speeches, using your good luck charm, and withdrawing. There is absolutely no way that you can beat this game without working together and figuring out a way to survive.
- This game is perfectly difficult on normal mode, and it’s great that you can easily increase or decrease the difficulty. You can definitely pull off some wins, but you have to have a good feel for how your teammates are playing to have a chance. You can’t communicate what’s in your hand or who you’re supporting, which increases the tension and forces you to really pay attention to everything that’s going on in the game. It’s a great challenge even for experienced gamers.
- One of the most interesting parts of the game is the withdraw and support action. No one knows who you chose to support, but you’re hoping that you can sync up with your teammates so someone gets the benefit of losing Hard Knocks or getting their valuable good luck charm back.
- My group has been very impressed with the theme in The Grizzled because it is so different than any other co-op game we’ve played. It forces you to work together because you really want to make it out of this war. There’s certainly a team puzzle aspect to it, but you’ll have a hard time not imagining that you’re in a terrible war when you’re playing this game. It’s a very impressive accomplishment by the designers.
- The game also has a nice and distinctive look to it. It’s a cartoon style that does the job of making it feel like a game while also not being offensive to those who were in the war.
- This is also a game that people of all experience levels can play and enjoy, yet it still has plenty of depth. It takes no time at all to learn those four actions, but getting good at the game and pulling off those slim wins takes some practice.
- It comes with a nice, large player aid that gives a clear overview of how rounds play out.
- The Grizzled is a game with a war theme, but it is not a game about fighting in a war. I knew that going into it, but some people might be surprised to find out that there is no fighting in this game. While it is a very good game for what it is, it might not be for people who prefer fighting games or traditional war games.
- The two-player game isn’t nearly as satisfying as the 3+ player games. The dummy player doesn’t really make up for the missing third player.
- The cursive font used on the Hard Knocks cards can be difficult to read, especially during your first three or four games. A lot of people I’ve played with have had to pick up the cards multiple times per game to make sure they were following the rules correctly.
The Grizzled is an excellent card game. It has mechanics that make you care as much about your teammates’ well-being as your own, and it has a unique war theme. While it isn’t considered a family game, this one can be enjoyed by gamers of pretty much all ages.
There is a ton of game in this small box, but even more is being added with the excellent The Grizzled expansion, The Grizzled: At Your Orders!, which adds in better two-player rules, a solo mode, and new missions that change up how each round is played.
Update: The Grizzled made it onto our Top 40 Cooperative Board Games list!