The Grizzled — fun but unwinable

grizzledThe Grizzled is a co-operative card game set in the trenches of World War I.  This is not a combat game.  The focus of this war game is to help each other survive the terrors of war and come out of the conflict alive.  There are basically three “suits” and three values of cards and during play your group may only play at most two of any suit or value.  The suits are weather related:  Snow, Rain, Night.  The values are: Shells, Gas, and Whistles.  Each card has at least one set of suit and value; others have multiple of these and create quite a problem for the team.  The team must play cards from their hand with little/no table talk to see how many cards they can get out of their hands.  The goal is to end the round with an empty hand.  Good luck with that!  There are also hard knock cards that represent wounds and mental problems that manifest during the conflict.  These hard knocks modify player choices and create more trouble for the team.  For example one hard knock card makes you retreat when any pair of suit or value is in play.  This makes you stop discarding cards and sets you up for a more challenging next round.

After everyone retreats or runs out of cards in their hand you have a Support phase and you lend your support to a teammate.  Whoever gets the most support gets a benefit.  If there is no most supported person there’s no benefit for anyone.  This creates more interesting choices and some social cooperation.

The game is excellent and the theme is surprisingly emotive.  The game makes you feel like you want your team to survive these awful missions and make it out alive.  If anyone dies the game is instantly over.  This makes for good game play and when things go bad you know it and are finished soon.  It’s not like Eldritch Horror where you know you cannot win but still have 2 hours of game to play to prove you’ve lost.  In The Grizzled if you have a few bad missions you’ll be dead soon and then it’s time to shuffle the decks and try again.

That’s one of the great things about this game.  Even after being beaten up several times we wanted to play more.  Some games that are hard to win eventually stop showing up on the table because everyone knows, “yep here comes another beating, let’s play something else” — with The Grizzled there’s always that urge to try just one more time and see if we can’t make it out of the trenches alive this time.