Cabo Review
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Players: 2+ (ages 10+)
Playing Time: a few minutes per round or about 30 minutes for a full game

Cabo is a magical, mystical place, where huge stalks of asparagus spout from the ground and pretty unicorns puke rainbows. It’s also a deceptively challenging card game that tests both your concentration and your memory.

To begin, each player is dealt four cards. Players then take turns drawing from the deck (or picking up from the discard pile), trying to get the lowest number of points. The catch: you can only look at two of your cards—and only once, at the beginning of the round.

Some of the cards in the deck will help you with your quest—like the 7 and 8 cards, which allow you to take a peek at one of your own cards, or the 9 and 10 cards, which allow you to spy on an opponent.

When you think you have fewer points than your opponents, you can use your turn to call Cabo. The other players then get one last turn before the end of the game. If you do have the fewest points, you score 0 points. Everyone else adds up the points on their cards, and you move on to the next round.

Once one player reaches 100 points, the player with the lowest score wins the game.

Don’t let the artsy cards—with their pretty, pastel drawings of mystical swimming koi and parachuting bunnies—fool you. Cabo is a quick but tricky card game.

With cards to memorize and opponents to foil, it takes a surprising amount of concentration, so you might want to play in a relatively quiet place—especially when you’re just starting out. I, on the other hand, played my first round in the middle of a noisy convention hall, with the game’s creators as my opponents. Needless to say, I felt a bit like I was playing a distracted street-side game of Three-card Monte—and I lost horribly.

Though the basics are quite simple, there are still plenty of strategies to consider, as well as a few additional rules to remember. For instance, if you have two matching cards, you can trade them both for one new card—a handy little rule that I still forget from time to time.

While the game is easy to learn, it takes a while to master. Once you get the hang of it, though, it’s relatively simple—and a whole lot of fun—to play. So whether you have time to play a full game or just a round or two, Cabo is a magical, mystical, and mesmerizing way to pass the time.

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