What’s Wild?! Review
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Players: 2-7 (ages 7+)
Playing Time: approx. 30-60 minutes, depending on the number of players

For fans of rummy-based games (like Phase 10), What’s Wild?! offers a wild new twist.

If you’ve played rummy games before, What’s Wild?! is a snap to learn. Each game is played in 10 rounds. At the beginning of the first round, players are dealt three cards—and that number increases by one in each subsequent round (four cards in the second round, five cards in the third, etc.). Cards are numbered 1-12 in four different wild animal skins: alligator, cheetah, peacock, and zebra. The deck also contains wild cards and special chameleon cards, which I’ll explain later.

In each round, players take turns drawing and discarding cards and trying to group the cards in their hand into either herds (at least three cards of the same number in any skin) and/or caravans (at least three cards of the same skin, in numeric order), using numbered cards or wild cards—or the special Numeric Wild Card, which changes for each round, corresponding to the number of cards in the players’ hands. So, in the first round, players have three cards—and 3s are wild. But that number can change at any time if someone plays a chameleon card. That player then chooses a new wild number—so if you’ve been counting on your 5s as wild cards and someone changes 8s to wild, it’s time to rethink your plan.

Once a player’s hand is filled with herds and/or caravans, that player can Go Wild, laying all of his or her cards on the table and earning zero points for the round. All other players have one last chance to get the lowest possible score. Players who have herds and/or caravans may then discard them before adding up the face value of their remaining cards—and that total is their score for the round. At the end of 10 rounds, the player with the lowest score wins the game.

Though it’s quick to learn and easy to play, the extra twists in What’s Wild?! add plenty of excitement. Sure, the game could probably be played with a regular deck of cards, but the animal skins make the game a little more fun. And unique. And, well, wild. The greatest twist, though, is the chameleon card—and that’s what makes the game really wild. You can plan all you want—but you never really know which number will be wild at the game’s end. And the more players you have, the crazier it gets.

A full game takes quite a while to play, so if you’re playing with younger players, I recommend shortening the game and playing just the first five rounds. Not only does it make the game quicker, but it also saves little hands from having to manage 12 cards at a time.

With its fun cards and an exciting twist or two, What’s Wild?! is one wild and crazy rummy game. It’s easy enough for younger players, but it’s still challenging enough for Mom and Dad—and that makes it a game that the whole family will love.

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