Feeling a little grey?
Suffering from a lack of colour in your life?
Have I got the game for you.
Just look at that box.
The game was designed by Molly Johnson, Shawn Stankewich and Robert Melvin with artwork by Shawn Stankewich and it was just released a few weeks ago (in 2021 for those of you reading this review 5 years from now).
It can take 1-5 players.
TEN is a push-your luck game as well, so those of you who don’t like that sort of thing may just want to bow out now (though you will miss some great jokes!).
There aren’t a lot of rules to the game and it takes about 30 minutes to play (often less), which makes it the perfect lunchtime game or game to play before everybody has arrived (or after many people have left) your game day.
How does it play and is it any good?
Let’s take a look.
In a game of TEN, each player starts with 5 “currency” tokens.
The deck is shuffled, with certain cards taken out of it depending on player count (no cards are removed at 4 or 5 players).
Then the first player starts turning over cards, one at a time. If you draw a coloured number card, that increases the value of the row you are creating.
If you draw a currency card, though, that value is subtracted from the row total.
For example, this would actually be a row value of -1.
If a Wild card comes up, play immediately stops for an auction. Each player (starting with the next player, going around until you reach the active player) can bid once for the Wild card. Each bid, of course, must be higher than the previous bid. The highest bid takes the card.
Then the active player continues, either drawing or stopping.
You keep on revealing cards until you either decide to stop or you bust.
There are two ways to bust:
If you bust, you take a white token. This can be spent later and counts as 3 currency.
Then, if you busted due to the total value of the row, all other players get currency equal to the value of the currency cards.
If you busted due to currency cards, then nobody gets anything.
Either way, all coloured cards go to the Market for possible later purchase.
If you decide to stop, however, you can do one of two things:
If you took the coloured cards, you can then buy one card from the Market, paying currency equal to its value (remember that bust tokens count as 3 currency). If you took currency, you can’t buy anything.
Turns continue around the table until the deck runs out. The active player completes their turn and then each player (in turn order, ending with the active player) gets one more Buy phase.
For each coloured suit (there are 4), each player totals up their longest consecutive run of cards in that suit (using any Wild cards that fit). For each card in that run, the player gets 1 point.
If you managed to get all 9 cards in the suit (even if some are Wild), then you get an extra point, for 10 points.
Whoever has the most points is the winner!
Is TEN a perfect run of cards that gives you Gin every time you play cards with your grandma? Or is it a Go Fish where you can never draw the card you want?
I really do love this game.
The card quality isn’t the best, sadly, but it is fine. You may want to sleeve them or you can probably get by without it. Do you sleeve your standard deck of playing cards even though you play Gin Rummy a lot?
(Or if you do, do I even know you?)
The currency and bust tokens (every time I teach this game, I keep feeling like I’m saying “bus tokens”) are very nice as well.
The rules to the game are just so simple but it’s a lot of fun. Anybody can understand the game because it’s not that much more difficult than some regular card games out there.
Again, I’ll say that if you don’t like push your luck games (like Can’t Stop), then you should stay away from this game.
But then you probably don’t like card games in general at that point.
The decision-making is just a step up from many card games, though many times it’s just a matter of judging how many of a certain type of card are still in the deck.
If your row value is at 6, how many cards that are value 5 or more might come out? How much currency has come out, since those subtract from the row value?
Sometimes you’re just going to bust because you’re unlucky. If you draw a 2, what are the odds that your next card is going to be a 9?
The currency cards do add to that decision, though, because you’re not always going to be increasing the row value. Say you’re at 9. Maybe you’ll draw a currency card and bring the value down instead of increasing it?
You might get lucky.
Or maybe you just shouldn’t have done that, just like you shouldn’t have had that extra bowl of rice when you’ve already had three.
TEN is very light, but that’s where the fun is. Literally anybody can play this and understand it, after a quick example anyway.
Okay, maybe Gracie or Carrie couldn’t.
But pretty much any human can.
If you’re looking for a brain-burner, look elsewhere. This game is intended for those times where you just want a quick card game while you’re chatting with your friends.
One minor issue, and it’s only an issue of player count, is that the auctions really lose their luster the fewer players there are.
I played this game at 2 players twice and 3 players once. Even at 3 players, the auctions weren’t really that interesting, but they were definitely better than at 2 players. I could see the auctions being very interesting at 4 or 5 players, since players can only bid once.
That being said, with the exception of the auctions, the game scales incredibly well.
Push your luck games can be fun, but very punishing if you push too hard. Some of us know the pain of moving your markers high up on three columns in Can’t Stop, only to have the dice gods give you 4 sixes and plummeting your markers all the way back down to where they started.
I love that in TEN, you at least get a little compensation for busting.
Not only do bust tokens count as 3 currency for future buys, but they also don’t count towards the limit of 10 currency markers that you can keep.
Speaking of that limit, there’s nothing like the feeling when you take a few coloured cards that you really need, leaving 9 currency value for others to take, but each other player is already maxed out!
I love that.
Anyway, I could go on but I would be repeating myself.
There’s not a lot to say about TEN other than that it is a fun and short game, leading to multiple plays or just as a brain cleanse after you’ve been thinking too hard during your previous game.
Nothing wrong with that.
TEN is a keeper.
(This review was written after 3 plays. Many thanks to AEG for the review copy)