Swap!

Posted: December 7, 2010 in 2 Hearts
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Swap! is a card game that I picked up in a dollar store. Its a 2-10 person game for ages 7 and up. The basic idea is similar to Uno: get all the cards out of your hand. Only the rules are crazy. So, there are a few types of cards: colors, swap, super swap, switch color and slap. Here’s where things get weird. So, about that swap card. It lets you swap hands with another player and the rules say this can be done at any time. That wasn’t any time on your turn, no that was at any time like…ever. So there I am, playing Swap! with some of my friends and its my turn…and one of my friends plays a swap on me. Why yes, it is this absurd. So, next up. The slap card means what it says. Slap the discard pile. The last person to slap draws a card from the hand of the person who played it. Fairly simple. Now get this: if someone slaps at the wrong time, make up a punishment for them. So that’s going to be pretty tame normally, right? But we’re college students. This just begs to become a drinking game or a stripping game. The super swap is decidedly tame compared to the rest of these. Its basic function is that the person who plays it picks a direction to rotate the hands in. There are also optional rules to instead leave the cards in place and swap seats on any type of swap card. I think that would also change the turn order. Interesting little twist. Then you combine this with the fact that swap cards can be played at any time and now you can steal someone’s turn. This rapidly becomes a surprisingly complex strategy game considering that its for ages 7 and up.

The cards are pretty simple artistically. I was amused when I looked at one of the blank color cards. They’re literally the same background all the other cards have, only they’re just a color. The colors are bright and distinct and the action cards clearly say which card they are without leaving any possibility for confusion. For all that the cards are nice and easy to understand, the rules are anything but. I’ve never seen a game with so many variant rules right in the main game instructions itself. Some of them are also really weird, like that whole thing where swap cards can be played at literally any time. This makes the game become extremely confusing after a rapid round of swaps where you sit there going “Who’s turn is it? I have no idea.”

For a dollar store game, Swap! is pretty decent. In the grander scheme though, the rules are ambiguous and while a group that doesn’t really get into the specifics of the rules and just plays how they think it should go will probably have fun, a group of college students who except a higher level of gaming experience will rip it to shreds and be baffled by what’s left. In light of that, I feel that 2 out of 5 hearts is the appropriate score for Swap! I enjoyed this game, but it was way too confusing and we were making an awful lot of house rules for a little card game.

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