A review by Si
Designer: Thorsten Gimmler
Publisher: Z-Man Games
No. of players: 3 to 5
Ages: 8 and up
I picked up a copy of No Thanks! on our weekend at ManorCon. I was looking for a light game that would be playable by the family and would be a good filler in our regular game group.
I’d heard good things about the game under its other name of Geschenkt and I’m pleased to say that it’s lived up to my expectations – it’s an excellent ‘push your luck’ card game.
No Thanks! is played with a deck of cards numbered 3 to 35 and some plastic counters. Setting up the game involves giving each player 11 counters (which they keep hidden in their hands) and removing nine cards randomly from the deck and putting them aside. You then place the remaining 24 deck of cards face down in the middle of the table.
Your aim in the game is to score as few points as possible. Your score at the end of a round will be the value of the cards in front of you, less the number of counters you have in your hand. Importantly, if you have cards in an unbroken sequence (for example, 23, 24, 25) you only score the lowest one in the sequence.
The first player begins the game by turning up the top card from the draw deck. They then decide whether they’re going to keep it, and place it in front of them, or refuse to take it by putting one of their plastic counters on it. If they keep the card they turn up the next one and make the same decision – keep or pass by placing a counter. If they pass, the player to their left then makes the choice – take the card and counter or pass by adding another counter to the card. This continues until someone decides to take the card and all the counters on it.
So the only decision you have to make is to take the card or pass. Pretty simple, right? Well not always, and that’s where the fun of the game comes in. You have to be constantly aware of two factors – how many counters do you/the other players have? And what cards are already out?
Let’s look at counters first. You keep these hidden in your hand, so unless you’re an excellent card counter you’ll never be quite sure how many the other players have left. However, you’ll usually have a vague idea and it’s important to keep track of this so you don’t get caught out. This can happen in two ways – you have less counters than the other players so end up taking a high-value card because you’ve run out and can’t pass. Or someone else ends up taking a card you want because they can’t pass.
Now this may sound a bit strange – taking a card you want? Surely the best route would be to take as few cards as possible? Well yes and no. Sure you don’t want a lot of cards at the end of the round, but your store of counters will run out at some point and then you’ll have to take whichever card is going round at the time. So it’s better to be in control of the cards you take, which – because of the rule about ignoring all cards in a sequence except the lowest one – will be ones that connect to cards you already have.
Doing the ’send around’
Cards already out on the table will have a big effect on your decision to take or pass. Let’s say you’ve just taken a card and the new card you turn up off the deck is the number 29. That’s a big number in this game and you don’t want it – unless of course you have the 28 or 30. In which case it will either have no effect on your score (if you have the 28) or will actually lower it (if you have the 30). Assuming you have the 30 already, you just take the 30 and turn up the next card right? Wrong – remember, any counters you have in your hand are deducted from your card total at the end of the game. So send the card round. No one else will want the 29, so they’ll all pass and put counters on the 29 for you. So when you get it back you’ve lowered your score still further! If you’re feeling really cheeky and pretty confident that no other player has run out of counters you can then pass and send it round again to collect some more counters. And believe me this is fun. Because all of the other players will know exactly what you’re doing but they won’t want to be the one to stop you and get lumbered with that 29!
Now in the example above, if another player has the 28 you won’t be able to do the ’send around’ because they’ll simply take the 29 and the counters on it when it gets to them – hence the importance of being aware of what cards the other players have taken.
Mind the gap!
There’s one further ‘push your luck’ twist that I want to mention, and that’s taking a card in the hoping of getting another one to ‘fill the gap’ later. Remember, you take nine random cards out of the deck at the beginning of the game, so not all the numbers are there. So let’s say you have the 31 card and the 29 comes up. Do you take it? Certainly not straight away, but with a few counters on it, it looks very tempting! If the 30 card comes up later you’ll reduce your score and almost certainly be able to send it around for a load of counters. However, if it doesn’t you’ll have 60 points of cards sat in front of you! This is another fun aspect of the game as you will a card to come up while your fellow players laugh at your increasing desperation – a bit like chanting ‘RA! RA! RA!’ to summon that final RA tile.
No Thanks! is a simple, quick-to-play filler that’s full of lighthearted taunting opportunities and laugh-out-loud moments. With each round taking less than ten minutes it packs a lot of fun into a short time and is a great game in many situations for gamers and non-gamers alike – for instance, I find it works really well as an after dinner game with friends. Highly recommended.