A review of Gargon is up on my site.
Gargon by Rüdiger Dorn is a small card game from Amigo. Gargon is one of those kind of traditional, yet quirky games. The idea is basically a trick-taking game, but it would stretch the definition of trick-taking to fully include Gargon in that lot.
The first weirdness you notice is, however, not mechanical one but the fact that the cards advertise their suits on the backs. That adds an interesting twist, as you can see which colors you are drawing from the deck and what your opponents hold.
The game is about collecting amulets. In each suit, lowest cards hold most amulets, while winning “tricks” is of course easiest with bigger cards. Unlike in most trick-taking games, winner of the “trick” doesn’t collect all the cards, just his or her own card, which makes collecting the small numbers even harder.
Resolving the battle
Here’s why I keep quoting the word trick: the leading player plays up to three cards of up to three different suits to the table, face down. Other players can pass or play, but if they play, they must follow the suit distribution. Colours don’t matter, but the distribution must be the same. The last player to play is an exception: he or she can’t introduce new suits.
After everyone has passed or played, players resolve the “trick”. Leading player starts and chooses a colour. Everyone who has played that colours shows their highest card in that colour. Whoever shows the highest card, gets to keep it, others discard. This continues, until every card is resolved.
In case you’re lucky enough to be the only player to hold cards of certain colour (either by being the only one to play them or playing most of them, so some are left over) you get to keep them without fighting. So, of course if you’re the only one to have two cards in a colour, you lead them as a pair and nothing else, and that should score you lots of points.
I think Gargon is definitely an interesting game and worth the low price, if you’re interested in strange card games. My interest waned quickly, though, and after just two games and lots of idle shelftime I sold the game. It just wasn’t that interesting to play in the end.
The game also has some small usability problems, mostly in form of very close purple and red. The backs of those two suits are very hard to tell apart in even slightly dim light. Printing some sort of a symbol on the backs of the card would’ve been nice.
So, anyway: if you’re looking for a quirky card game, Gargon might be worth checking out, but there are better games floating around. As I’m writing this, the highest rating anyone has given for Gargon in the Geek is 8.5, which I think is telling — nobody really loves this game.