What I appreciate about Gamewright’s new press-your-luck game, Take It or Leave It, is how it keeps everyone invested in the action. There is very little sense of “down time” until you decide to pass, and even then it is hard to look away. In Take It or Leave It, you must always re-evaluate your plan in light of every other player.
The game consists of dice—anywhere from 13 to 20 dice depending on the number of players. There are Orange Dice, Blue Dice, and Wild (Red) Dice that are rolled onto a circular tray. The Wild Dice can be used as Orange or Blue. All the dice are rolled at the beginning of the round and players take turns either passing or picking out a single die in order to complete Combinations.
“Combinations?” you ask.
“Yes,” is my reply. “As per the Combo Cards.” You see, each player draws 4 Combo Cards at the beginning of the game. These cards tell the player which dice to collect and the amount of points they will earn if successful. The Combos are kept secret. The more difficult the Combo, the more points it is worth. Highest points wins the game.
“Why would you pass?” you ask
“Because any dice that you pick but don’t use are scored against you.” If you pass, you may no longer draw dice until the next round. Ideally you would pass when you have completed several Combos and have no extra dice. The trick is figuring out what Combos are a good bet and if your Action Cards will help you squeeze out a few more points. The game comes with red chips. You earn a chip for any unused dice. Each chip is worth -1 points.
“I’m glad you asked,” I say. At the beginning of each round you have an Action Card that you can use to change the dice in the tray. There are lots of different Action Cards but they are generally ways to alter the dice in your favor (and generally foul things up for your opponents). Some let you re-roll the dice. Some let you swap dice colors. Some allow you to take more than one die on the turn. Once you use the Action Card it is gone.
“I remember something about Wild Dice…”
“Yup. The red ones. They can be counted as Orange or Blue for your Combo Cards.”
“They sound great!”
“Indeed. But picking one earns you a chip. Two chips if you can’t use it to complete a Combo.”
What works so well with Take It or Leave It are the multiple levels of press-your-luck. There are the combinations. There are your opponents. There are the action cards. There are the forces of blind luck and fate. There are the psychological forces of greed and daring that make games so fun in the first place.
In the end, you have this robust, frustrating, Major Fun game. It’s gorgeous. The rules, complete with illustrations and examples, fit on one sheet of paper. Once you play it, you’ll never need the rules again. It’s fun and addictive and a great way to pass an evening.
For 2-5 players, ages 8+
Take It or Leave It designed by Arno Steinwender and Christoph Puhl. © 2012 by Gamewright.