Thataway is an easy to learn, quick to play, totally engaging addition to Gamewright’s collection of 12 Minute Games. The card game, designed for 2-5 players, is a race in which players compete to build the longest chain of cards. Some cards point left or right, others up or down, still others point both directions (so you have a choice of either).

At the beginning of the game, the cards are divided into as many draw piles as there are players. Since players can draw from any pile, it doesn’t really matter if the piles are equal. As soon as you have a playable card, you place it on the table, face up. When you draw a card that can be connected to it (if, for example, you’ve played a left-facing arrow, the only card that can’t connect to it is a right-facing arrow), you place that card, face-up, and adjacent to the connecting card. There are also Gorilla cards. As soon as you play a Gorilla card, the game is over. The player with the longest chain of connected cards wins that round.

Cards that are played already are placed in a scoring pile. Cards that remain in a player’s hand are passed to the player on the left, and added to that player’s pile. The game continues until a fourth Gorilla is played.

Since, as soon as you draw a Gorilla, you have the chance to end the round, you have to pay attention not only to how many cards are in your chain, but also to everyone else’s chains. This adds a delicious tension to the game. It’s hard enough watching your own cards, having to watch everyone else’s is just enough to distract you into losing – end the round too soon or too late, and someone else can score higher.

The game is more of a race than it is a strategic interaction. You’re much more focused on winning than you are on making anyone lose. Consequently, the competition, as fierce as it is, is also quite gentle. You can lose without taking it personally. And, for all the tension, you tend to spend most of the time laughing. Thataway turns out to be a surprisingly entertaining little game, easy to learn, long enough to get significantly involved, short enough to want to play again next time. Major FUN for everyone 8 and over.

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