Gorus Maximus (2018) Review
Gorus Maximus is a card game published by Inside Up Games. Coming from the 2018 Kickstarter, the game went to retail at Essen the same year. The designer, Conor McGoey brings with this game a revisit of the traditional Trick Taking game.
Let's dive into the theme of the game. Close your eyes and here you are in Ancient Rome, in 66 B.C. more exactly. To satisfy the people and to win the favor of the crowd, rich patricians decide to organize the most bloody games ever made: the Gorus Maximus. You play as people who are power hungry. Do not we say: "a happy crowd, is a crowd conquered"? To become the most influential politician, you call on the best Lanistes (gladiator owners and coaches) of the Republic. They are eager to offer you their best gladiators but also their most cruel and hungry animals to ensure a good show. Now set up the game and may the best Lanistes win?
The first thing that surprises with this game is the graphics. The very violent and gore bias fits perfectly with the desire to thematize the game. As such, Kwanchai Moriya (Catacombs (Third Edition), Dinosaur Island) brings his personal touch. The game wants to be family style, the illustrator chose to keep the desired on the gore side, while the sweetener with a cartoon style more than assumed. This results in a fun rendition, bloody but not disturbing. It's beautiful and colorful without being overloaded.
The game in itself plunges you back into the traditional game of Trick Taking. It will make you very quickly think of the Belote for example. On the program, you have five schools of sixteen gladiators. Each school corresponds to a color (or a symbol). Each gladiator has a number ranging from 0 to 16. Not all cards will be played at each game. The setting up depends on the number of players. The more you are, the more cards will be there.
Each player will have a ten card hand. The first player will play a card of their choice. It will become the favorite school of the moment, in other words, the trump. Like any Trick Taking, the trump is the strongest card and must be played unless you lack it’s color for example. Continue until all players have played a card. In each round, the one who won the previous trick starts the new one. At the end of a round, you’ll count the points. Whoever has the most, wins a favor from the crowd. The first to have three wins the game. Simple, no?
Yes... But without counting the talent of the author. Gorus Maximus has a twist that will upset the established order. In your turn, you are obliged to play a card of the same color as the first played. Unless you put a card of the same value (and therefore not necessarily the same color). There is a change of mood in the audience. The favorite school changes in favor of the one just layed.
In other words: a blue five has been laid. The trump is red. The second player plays a red three (for now it is they who lead). The third player places a green three. The trump changes in favor of the green school. So it's this players that lead, for now.
It can be even more cunning. If we take the previous example. The third player leads with their three green (become trump). The fourth player plays a blue three. As a result, the asset changes color (in favor of blue) and the first player becomes the leader of the next hand.
This simple twist makes it possible to invigorate the parts and reversals of situations can occur at any moment. Of course the more numerous you are, the more these situations will be able to multiply.
In addition to that, each card does not earn the same number of points at the end of a round. Some like the "eight", will even lose points to those who own them. Be careful when you pick up tricks. We also talked about the presence of a "zero". At the end of a round, the zero is worth zero points ... unless the color of the favorite school at this time is the same. And that's five points in the pocket!
Your simple Trick Tacker becomes a game much more cunning and clever. The game is really fluid. Simple in the rules and in the implementation, it promises a lot of twists. Of course, the more players there are, the more interesting it will become. Below four players, the game can be played but the surprises and twists will be less. It will be more about the classic, a race to one who will avoid the "eight". It will become a little less replayable. At more player, you have more possibilities and more fun. It is also possible to play as a team. The game then takes on another flavor. Smart and well thought out, this little game can make you happy like a big game.
The system of what could be called the double trump: the color but also the number, offers you the opportunity to get out and upset the established order. It creates tension and good laughs.
Available in two editions, basic and deluxe, the composants are really quality. The cards are very pleasant to handle and resist time and touch. The author also thought of inserting in his box the means to turn your game into a travel game. It is a very laudable intention and it works pretty well. Big plus too, the price, it is not expensive. It is in line with its category, despite a quality of material well beyond the standards. Variations of the game exist, play in teams, but also other unofficial, like count the points after each round.
The game is however not free of defects. It’s weak point will be in the games with less than four players. It could even in some configurations look long and repetitive. Turnarounds or negative cards are few. Be careful, I'm not saying it's bad, just that it's not with this configuration that it reveals its potential and its true interest. Graphics can also sometimes work against it. For a family game, some families can see the presence of blood (even cartoonesque and not in the sense of gore) of an evil eye. But to limit oneself to that would be to miss a good set of Trick Taking with original mechanisms. The theme is also very quickly forgotten. Afterwards for a game of this category, it is often difficult to incorporate a theme that is very end-to-end.
In teams or with many players, Gorus Maximus will be able to entertain you. Multilingual (including English), if you like this genre, it would be a shame to miss out.
Technical Note 8 / 10
The quality of the cards is really great, they are very pleasant to handle. Poker chips add a refined touch. The material is good. The transport box (premium version) is very well thought out.
My BGG Score 7 /10
(Good to play)
Easy to play, easy to carry everywhere, for all types of players, smart and fast. Be careful when you play it in the right configuration to make the most of its flavors.
Combined score 7,5 / 10
And Now, it's your turn...