Designer: Paul Peterson
Date Released: 1998
Number of Players: 2-5
Age Range: 10 and up
Setup Time: less than 5 minutes
Play Time: 20-30 minutes
Guillotine takes place during the French Revolution, and you’re an executioner. You goal is to post a more impressive score of royal heads than your opponents.
There are three rounds to Guillotine because there were three days of execution by means of the guillotine during the French Revolution. There are 50 noble cards, each one has its own point value and belongs to one of five different groups of nobles (Royals, Clergy, Military, Government, and the Wrongly Accused). At the beginning of each round, you deal 13 nobles in a line. The noble on the far right is at the head of the line.
Each player is dealt four action cards with which they can manipulate scoring (based on which group a noble belongs to) or doctor the line of royals. On a turn, a player can play an action card (optional), they take the noble at the head of the line whether they played a card or not, and then they draw one action card from the deck (unless another card tells them otherwise).
Play continues until there are no nobles left in the line. You draw for the next day, or if the round in question was the third day, the game’s over, and then you tally points.
With such a morbid premise, Guillotine has to use comic devises to lighten up the game. It does this well. You’ll find yourself laughing at the funny cartoons adorning each card. The action cards work well, and what they do matches the off-beat comedy. You gotta love “Let Them Eat Cake” which moves Marie Antoinette, the royal sporting the highest point value, to the head of the line.
But like most card games, Guillotine relies on luck, and as a result, there isn’t a lot of strategy involved. Even so, there are opportune times with which to play an action card, so Guillotine does reward experience and some skill.
Verdict: A quirky, thematic card game with a wicked sense of humor, Guillotine lets you get your hands dirty and heads rolling, and while there isn’t much in the way of strategy, you still have to have some skill.