DaVinci Code

Another review up: DaVinci Code.

I know it’s a bit early to review the game, because I only have played the game few times and always with three players, but knowing that my opportunities to play pretty much anything this year are quite slim, I thought I’d like to get the review out for Christmas season. You see, DaVinci Code is a perfect Christmas gift game.

The game’s about deduction. It’s a far cry from the heavy deduction games like Black Vienna — even Mastermind is probably more taxing on the brain. For one thing, I’m afraid 50/50 guesses come up in critical points of DaVinci Code more often than they should in serious deduction games.

However, the game has lots of things speaking for itself. First of all, it’s fast. The game should definitely be over in twenty minutes. Second, it’s easy to learn. Even if the players haven’t even read the rulebook, they should get a game in going in just minutes. The rules are short and simple. There’s little room for playing wrong. Third, the game is good fun. Despite the luck involved, the players can get good moments of enlightment when they figure out bits of their opponents codes.

Now that I’ve told you why I like the game, perhaps I should describe how the game works. Game is played with black and white tiles, with numbers running from zero to eleven on them. Each player takes four tiles at random and makes a code out of them. The tiles stand up, so players can set up their code so nobody else sees it. The rules of making the code are simple: numbers should ascend from left to right and if there are two tiles with the same number, black goes left.

To start a turn, player draws one of the leftover tiles, thus getting a tidbit of information. Then she must make a guess, pointing at an opponent’s tile and saying what she thinks the number is. If she’s correct, the number is revealed and she may continue and make another guess. If she doesn’t continue, she inserts the newly-drawn tile in her code, thus making her code harder to crack.

If the guess is wrong, though, it is she who has to reveal a tile. The newly-drawn tile is placed in the right place in her code, but face up so everyone can see it. This goes on, until only one player has some hidden code left. Yes, there’s player elimination, but that doesn’t occur until the end of the game, so nobody has to sit out for a long time.

I quite like the game. As I said, I’ve only played it with three. I have a hunch that it might be the sweet spot, but that remains to be seen. Other reports seem to indicate that the game works well with two or four players. The complaints are usually about the luck (especially the critical 50/50 guesses) and the advanced game, involving dashes that can be placed anywhere in the code. They make the game slightly harder, which is good, but can give an unfair advantage to a player who gets one.

DaVinci Code is a good game and recommended, if you’re looking for something light but not stupid. This should work well with gamers and non-gamers. It also makes a good gift, because learning the rules is so easy that no teaching is needed.

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