This week I played The Hobbit, The Card Game for the first time. It is a card game for 2 to 5 persons. I played with 2 persons.
I confess that I bought it because it was at a reasonable price (for Brazil), it was about Tolkien and I wanted to expend some money in a shop that made a game board encounter. It was an impulse acquisition, as I would not buy a game rated 5.41/10 in BGG.
First impression: bad choice. 2 players rules are “special”, found in the end of the rules. Since I really play a lot with my son, just us 2, this was a bad sign.
Reviewing the rules: a trick taking game. That means that it is a card game where you put card on the table and the biggest card is the winner. One fixed color is trump. Hobbits, Dragons and whatever tolkianeske image you have in the card has nothing to do with it.
But there is a twist: some cards are marked in a way that they can be used to take life points from “evil” or “good” characters (each player gets 1 of 5 characters. 3 good, 2 evil). There are more evil cards than good cards, so good characters have to strife for life.
What is bad: It has different winning conditions for each number of participants, and the rules, although few, have minor variations also, and this is a bit confusing.
What is good: winning and loosing tricks become a strategic move. It is not always the right decision to win.
What I miss: being a Tolkien game and not only a game with Tolkien drawings. I kind of resent when a game has nothing to do with its franchise, it seems that it was not good enough to sell by itself. You could play it without buying: you could use a normal card deck and mark the cards with one of the 3 symbols.
Where Tolkien appears: each player plays 1 of 5 possible from The Hobbit, that have one special power related as how he uses the life taking cards. However, Gandalf has the same rule than Smaug.
Martin Wallace, its designer, has some prizes, but this is not one game that make me want to buy more of this games. I read about game designers that have the game and then put the history on it (usually as a demand) and this seems to be the case.
I believe BGG overall rating of 5.41/10 is really fair, for 2 players. It is not a baaaad game, but it is not really good, at least for 2 players.
As a final observation, the Brazilian Rules, publish by Devir, are not as good as the provided in the Web site.