Board Game Review: Costume Party

costumepartycoverCostume Party
Publisher: Naturalist Games
Cost: $9.95
Release Date: 06/09/2015
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Nobody want to show up to a costume party only to find out their unique idea for a Joker costume wasn’t so unique after all. It’s bad enough in real life when two people are wearing the same shirt! Costume Party is a card game designed around that concept. Wearing unique costumes gets you points, while wearing the same costume as someone else gets you nothing but shame.

The game is designed for three to seven players, but works best with around four or five. Players are dealt three cards each at the start of the game, and then pass one card to the players on their left and right. Then, each player puts one of their cards face down. One by one, the cards are flipped and appropriate actions taken. Then comes the judging round, where every unique costume gets three points. Matching costumes get nothing.

There are six different costumes in the game. You’ve got vampires, mummies, robots, ghosts, zombies, and two-person horses. Vampires let you steal a point, mummies take someone out of the round immediately, robots force them to change their costume, ghosts score points for ghosts played on the previous turn, and zombies score the same as ghosts. It’s the horse costume that makes things tricky. There are actually two different parts to a horse costume; the head and the rear. A single player can only play one of these. If you play the head, but no one plays the rear, you’ll end up losing three points as a penalty. If both parts are played, those players will score six points each instead of the usual three. It’s an amusing risk/reward system, especially since you need to try and get someone to go in with you.

Costume Party is a bluffing game. Part of that involves talking with other players to influence what they play, as well as hide what you’re playing. You can just as easily try to find a partner for the horse as you can trick someone into playing one when you’re not playing the other. Another strategy is to focus someone’s anger on anther player, keeping the mummies and robots headed in their direction instead of yours. Stealing a victory through trickery is even more satisfying than dominating outright.

Counting cards is also an important element of the game. There are only six copies of each card in the deck, so you can figure out what’s safe to play and what isn’t based on what’s already been played. Of course, not every card can be played. The game ends when there aren’t enough cards for everyone to draw one at the end step. Several cards will be left in hands as a result.

Overall, it’s a decent enough card game that reminds me of something like Love Letter. It’s easy to learn, quick to play, and has the right amount of strategy versus luck. My only real complaint is that the art style on the cards in kind of bland. Even then, that’s just a personal stylistic choice. If you’re into these kinds of card games, this is certainly worth a look. It can be fun to break out every once in a while, and the price is right.






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