Rage Review
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Players: 2-8 (ages 8+)
Playing Time: 20-30 minutes

It might be complicated to follow, but I’ll try to explain the premise of the card game Rage as simply as possible: Rage is a “trick-taking” card game (think of hearts, bridge, or pinochle, if you’ve played any of those before). If you’re not familiar with the term, a trick is not a stunt—like tying your sister’s shoelaces together or sneaking a fake spider onto your friend’s pillow. Basically, a “trick” is equivalent to a turn or a deal.

Rage is a turn-based card game, played in a series of rounds. In the first round, 10 cards are dealt to each player. In each subsequent round, players are dealt one less card. The person who starts the round selects a card from his or her hand and places it face up for all players to see. The rest of the players need to follow the same suit that the first player selected (in this case, suits like hearts, spades, etc. are replaced by colors: red, blue, purple, etc.). The player who has the highest value card in the selected color wins the cards for that hand. You get one point for winning the hand, but you can get additional points for correctly predicting how many tricks, or turns, that you hope to win in a round (still with me?).

So, if you’ve figured all of that out so far, what makes Rage different from its trick-tastic counterparts? Rage adds another element—action cards—to the mix. Here’s the skinny: you can only play action cards during certain circumstances in game play. There are five different types of action cards. Some are only useful if you win the hand; they’ll add or subtract points from the score (and you only score if you win the hand). Others change the color (or suit) for the trick. So you don’t necessarily directly benefit every time you put these cards into play, unless you’re the winner of the trick. Other than changing the color being played or scoring the hand’s winner extra points, nothing particularly exciting happens during game play when they’re used (unlike Uno’s action cards, which have more enticing ways to play them).

I just think that if you’re going to call a game Rage or have “Rage cards,” you’d darn well better have some serious wrath-inducing options to unleash on your unsuspecting opponents, like stealing cards, skipping turns, stealing the trick, etc.—something that will leave everyone at the table screaming in pain or sheer delight. And forget the scoring system. There’s one score sheet on the back of the directions that more closely resembles a score board at the bowling alley. Plus, there’s only one copy, so you’re going to have to reproduce it yourself the next time you play.

While I understand that this variety of game has a traditional set of rules, a glossary stuffed into the size of a 3x5 recipe card isn’t going to clear anything up. And if you can’t understand the glossary, understanding the rest of game play becomes that much more frustrating and confusing; then, suddenly, the only thing that’s “rage-ful” about this game is my inability to get it, so I can actually play.

Overall, Rage is a head-scratching disappointment that’s rooted too deep in its trick-taking traditions to tackle card games in new and exciting ways.

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