White Elephant

White Elephant = card gameNow that the holiday madness and the season of profligate spending is behind us (only 320 shopping days until Christmas 2013!!), we can sit back and reflect on what is really important: what to do with that awkward gift from your great-aunt. You know, the rhinestone encrusted, macramé lamp shade that she expects will festoon the primary reading light in your living room. She visits just enough that your excuses could become strained (“You know, Aunty, we had to have one of the rhinestones replaced and they would only do it under warranty at the factory in Turzbekistan.”) On the other hand, she’s getting up there in age and her eyesight and memory are a bit dodgy.

And thus you are caught in the vortex of the white elephant gift…

Mayday Games and Brian Kelley have done a great job of staying true to the spirit and the rules of the classic white elephant gift exchange. If you are Turzbekistani or otherwise unfamiliar with this holiday tradition, this game will prove a fun and invaluable means of expanding your cultural literacy. To sum up—which the game does in beautifully concise rules— your goal is to acquire the best gift you can from three target colors. The gifts are represented with 50 cards: five groups of ten cards (red, orange, green, blue, and yellow) and each card has a point value from 1 – 10.

Major Fun awardYou are dealt a hand of cards. All players take one card from their hand and place it face down in the center of the table. This is called “Going to the Party.” The starting player takes one card and turns it face up. The second player (clockwise) now has a choice. He or she can “steal” the face-up card from Player One or take one of the mystery cards. If Player Two steals then Player One must draw from the mystery pile. Player Three, in turn, can steal from Players One and Two or take from the middle.

There are five card colors but the players have a “Gift List” of three colors that they are trying to acquire. Only cards of these colors will count at the end. If your “Gift List” is Green, Red, Yellow then you are trying to collect those colors. Other colors will not score at the end.

There is quite a bit of silly luck in the game (the game is Major Fun so the silly factor is very high) but enough strategy that you can position yourself for good points. You have to decide when is the best time to steal—especially the high value cards. Too early and someone will just snatch it away from you. Too late and someone might beat you to it. Take a chance in the middle? You might wind up with a set of unflossed Billy-Bob teeth worth one point. And ain’t nobody gonna steal that from you.

Game play is easy to learn and very fast. The laughs come just as quick. Best of all, you put all the “gifts” back in the box until the next time you play.

For 3-7 players, ages 8+

White Elephant designed by Brian Kelley. © 2011 by Mayday Games, Inc.

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