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[Review] Moby Pick

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Joined: 03/23/2011

Any company that is producing a card game (and there are a lot of them!) should follow the standard set by daVinci Games. I first saw their new style box with the second edition of Bang!, but now they’re putting all their card games in it. The plastic insert holds the cards in the decent sized box; and while you can’t store the thing in your hip pocket, none of the cards fall out, and everything is stored in a decent order. Moby Pick (daVinci Games, 2004 - Luigi Ferrini) is one of a new series of card games produced by the company; and if one judged by the box alone, it’s an excellent game.

Without the box, however, it’s a different story. Moby Pick, while being a rather strange name, is a memory game. If you are unhappy with such games, such as Mamma Mia!, than this is certainly going to displease you. On the other hand, if you’re a sucker for memory games, as I am (even though I rot at them), then this is a good one - able to involve up to eight players. It’s fairly simplistic, but plays quickly; and quick games that accommodate eight players are few and far between.

A deck of 105 cards is shuffled, with two cards dealt face down to each player. Players may look at their cards and memorize them, then must leave them face down on the table, not looking at them again. Cards either have a red, yellow, or blue background; the name “Molly”, “Polly”, or no name; and a picture of a girl, whale, or parrot - making twenty-seven different combinations. There are also several green action cards in the deck; if a player draws these, they put them back and draw until they get one of the other cards. The remaining cards are shuffled, and an alarm clock card is placed sixteen cards from the bottom of the deck. One player is chosen to start, and the game begins.

On a turn, the player checks to see if they have any face down cards in front of them. If they don’t, they take the top card of the deck, look at it, and place it face down in front of them. Whether or not this is done, the player turns over the top card and places it face-up in the middle of the table. If the card is one of the combination, the revealing player must slowly say, “Molly, Polly, Moby Pick”. Any other player may touch the card in the middle of the table during the time the player says this; otherwise, the player who is saying this idiotic phrase takes the card, memorizes it, and places it in front of them. If a player touches the card, they must then reveal one of the cards in front of them. If the two cards match exactly, in color, name, and picture, the player takes both cards and puts them in a “dream” pile in front of them. If one of the cards is a “Crazy Dream” card (has no name), then the player need only match color and picture. If the cards do not match, both are discarded. In a four-player game, if everything matches but the name, the player may keep one of the cards, discarding the other.

If the player turns over an action card, they immediately follow the action on it.
- Remind card: The player can look at their face-down cards to remember what is on them.
- Confuse card: The player can shuffle the cards in front of another player, but only in a limited way, similar to “pea under the shell” movement.
- Reverse card: The player turns over the next card, and players must match the card, but with “reverse” matching, meaning that the two cards must be completely different - both with name, color and picture.
When the alarm clock is shown, players tally their points in their dream piles. Each “Crazy Dream” card is worth two points, and all other cards are worth one. The player with the most points is the winner (ties are broken by number of cards).

Some comments on the game...

1.) Components: I already stated that I loved the box, and the cards are really good quality, also. Sadly, since the game revolves so much around color, color-blind folk may have a problem with it, although the colors picked are fairly distinct. The cards are clear, while the names can easily be confused (only the first letter is changed). This, of course, is deliberate, and I’ve found that most of the time when people mess up, it’s because of the name. The special cards have no text, but there are only three different types, and the pictures on them make it pretty clear what to do. This game is a nicely produced package.

2.) Rules: The rules are part of a folded up sheet in the box, in Italian, English, German, and French - and are well-formatted, with illustrations and a whole game example. The game itself is extremely easy to teach, as it is a very simple game. I was able to teach the game to groups of teenagers and younger children, and met nobody who had a problem understanding the rules.

3.) Memory: As I stated above, people who don’t like memory games would probably really not enjoy this game. At first, it seems extremely simple - just memorize the few cards in front of you. But you would be surprised at how easy it is to forget one attribute of a card on the table in front of you. And just which card is which? When a player has three or four cards in front of them, the memory factor increases, and a lot of confusion can occur. For most people, this means that the game has a fairly level playing field. It is, however, possible for someone with a superb memory to do extremely well at this game, although I haven’t run across any yet.

4.) Players: The game works with a few players, but it’s much better with seven or eight players. This is a tremendous game in situations where you have a lot of people willing to play a game in a short period of time. It can be taught in probably less than a minute, and everyone is involved every turn.

5.) Fun Factor: Despite the stupidity of the name (at least that’s what all those I taught said), everyone had fun saying the phrase, and everyone had fun slapping their hand on the table to touch the card. Or, almost slapping the card, then having a doubt and quickly pulling their hand back. I’ve seen people who bragged about their memory do poorly at the game, and people who had low self-confidence do quite well. While not a “gamer’s game” by any stretch of the imagination, the game is a fast, fun one.

My recommendation for getting the game is quite simple; if you’re looking for a quick, lite game that accommodates a lot of people, then this is a nice one. As long as you don’t disdain memory games (and there are some who do), then you’ll probably enjoy the game. It’s lighter than other games in the genre (like Mamma Mia!), and doesn’t really have a lot of strategic options, but it’s fast and fun. And it’s a tremendous game for groups of teenagers and children - anyone with the opportunity to work with young folk should definitely consider this game.

Tom Vasel
“Real men play board games.”

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