This Big! Review
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Players: 2-6 (ages 8+)
Playing Time: around 15 minutes

Although I’m not big on card games, my kids are, and I thought I’d found something we could play together. Looking at the box, This Big! seemed to fit the bill. If an eight-year-old could learn this game, which only takes 15 minutes to play, then I certainly could, too.

The game consists of casting lure cards, which may or may not catch points-earning fish. You might instead catch “river rubbish” or nothing at all. It all depends on which cards the other players put out for you—face down, of course. Then you have to choose one.

I seem to have a sort of rules dyslexia. I read them over and over until they (maybe) start to make sense. Yes, the words are in English, and they form complete sentences. But an instruction like “the last player to catch a live fish starts the game” baffles me. What if it’s the first game—who starts the game then?

Anyway, my son Kevin (age 14) went first, because he offered. After I dealt the cards (four river and three tackle cards), he tossed a lure card onto the table, face up. Then it was up to me to produce at least one card, face down, for him to take. If it was a fish that matched the color of the lure, yay…points. If it was river rubbish, like a boot or a rusty trombone, no points. If I had no fish or rubbish to offer, I would say “No catch!” The first player to accumulate 10 points is the winner.

When his sister, Sarah (age 16), joined us, we changed to a three-player game. Things seemed to move more quickly this time. We now each had a choice of where to get new fish, and, most times, we made the right choices. We even developed a certain rhythm. Kevin won the first game, Sarah the second.

I asked the kids if they liked the game. They both said yes, but I sensed a lack of enthusiasm. First, Kevin had as much trouble with the rules as I had, and there were lots of them to remember. Second was the lack of joy in winning. All of us had roughly the same number of points, so, when somebody did reach 10, they only beat the others by a point or two. It seemed more a matter of luck than skill.

Fun concept, good card game, but lots of rules, and not much skill required.

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