No Thanks! Review
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Players: 3-5 (ages 8+)
Playing Time: 15-20 minutes

Whenever I head out for a visit with family, I always pack plenty of games. Fortunately, over the years, my family has gotten used to being my game-playing guinea pigs, and they’re generally quite easy-going about it—even when a game turns out to be a flop. But sometimes we manage to find a game that we keep coming back to all weekend long. And on my latest visit with the family, we were lucky to find one of those games: No Thanks!

At the beginning of the game, each player gets 11 chips. Be sure to keep yours hidden—so no one knows how many you have! One player then shuffles the deck of 33 cards (numbered 3-35) and counts out 24 of them. Those cards are placed face-down in the center of the table—and the other nine are discarded.

The first player turns over the top card. He or she can choose to take the card or pass and place a chip next to the card. Chips are pretty scarce, so you don’t want to give yours up. But if you pick up the card, you’re also picking up the number of points on the card—and you don’t want that, either.

Play moves around the table until a player decides to pick up the card. That player then places the card face-up in front of him or her and collects all of the chips.

Sometimes, however, it’s okay to pick up a card: when it gives you a numeric sequence. Because if you have a number of cards that line up numerically, only the points for the lowest number in the sequence count. So, for example, if you have a 15, 16, and 17, they only count for 15 points.

Play continues until all of the cards in the deck have been taken. Players then add up their points and subtract the number of chips—and the player with the fewest points is the winner.

Although there’s a lot going on in No Thanks!—with its chips and cards and points and things—it’s a game that almost anyone can learn in a matter of minutes. While it’s a quick and easy game to play, though, there’s still plenty of strategy involved to keep things interesting.

With each turn, you have to decide what’s more important to you: avoiding points or keeping your chips. After all, if you use your chips too quickly, you’ll run out—and then you’ll have to pick up everything. And, sure, you can always pick up a card and hope for a sequence—but since nine of the cards were removed from the deck before play began, there’s no guarantee that the cards you want will still be in the deck.

No Thanks! is an easy-going yet fast-paced card game that’s simple enough for players of practically all ages—but it’s also smart enough to keep the most strategy-minded player coming back for another round. And that makes it just the game to bring along for your next weekend with the family.

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