Product: Team out! Hockey (they also make a similar Baseball game) Players: 2-6 (ages 8 & up) Company: Ultimate Line-Up, Inc. 36 Wakonda Dove Canyon, CA 92679 Playing time: about 1 hr Cards in a deck: 60 (30 players - 5 per position and 30 non-player) Number of unique players in series: 89 (see checklist) Cost for a deck: $9.99 *Overview of Play* The game is a rummy variant (very close to "Gin Rummy"). Each player is dealt six cards. Every turn that a player has six cards, they may draw one card and play and action (or discard). If they have less than six cards, they may only draw a card. You may never end your turn with more than six cards in your possession. People can draw "live" cards from the discard pile as well as the hidden deck. Red Action cards (eg. Major Penalty, Game Penalty, etc.) are played against other players that either take players away, send them out of the game, or place them in a penalty box. Players can use Blue Response cards to nullify or weaken the Red Action card's effect. Game Objective - Create an "Ultimate Line-up" consisting of one of each of the following plus a discard: Goalie, Center, Left Defense, Right Defense, Left Wing, Right Wing (and you may substitute one black "Power Play" wild card for any one of the position players). So when you reach that "Ultimate Line-up" you discard and lay down your team ("Team Out" instead of "Gin" maybe said). Game Scoring - The player that "Teams Out" gets 25 points. Players are worth 10 points each and Power Play cards are worth 5 points each. Red action cards are -10 points and Blue response cards are 0 points. Everyone scores each round and the winner is declared when a player reaches 400+ points at the end of a round. *Components* The container box looks roomier then it actually is. The 60 cards rest in the middle of a box that is two decks wide. I suppose that use of an Exacto knife might free up the rest of the box in case you buy an additional deck. The player cards are quite attractive with a nice image of the player in action. Team logo and player name are on the card with the player's position is clearly marked on top and bottom. The Red Action, Blue Response, and Black Power Play cards are humorous drawings of Hockey related events (eg. Player Penalties, Offsides, Icing, etc.). The slick card stock is adequate but how it will stand up to lots of shuffling and playing remains to be tested. Unfortunately, two of the cards in my initial deck had large blemishes (looked like thumb prints!) on the backsides which essentially mark them for play. I haven't checked as to whether or not I can get them replaced but as far as I can tell, the company has no web page or e-mail address just snail mail. The rules booklet is a 10 page/section folded sheet. The game isn't complex so the rules are adequate. It does mention drafting "House Rules" at the beginning which is a neat idea but they don't provide any examples for players to try. And for a collectible card game (and that's sort of what this is), they unfortunately do not include a list of all the player cards available in the series within the rules or on the package. Guess where that info is? It's on the back of the display box! So if you go to the store and can write real fast, you can make up a list for yourself as I've done (or you can write the company and see if they'll send you a list). *Comments on Play and Final Thoughts* If you like a light, fast game then you may enjoy "Team Out! Hockey." You won't learn anything about hockey from it but if you enjoy Rummy variants (and like hockey players) then you might find this a fun diversion. There's a penalty box feature which is rather fun because it takes a player card out of a person's hand (though the player card is still counted towards that person's hand size) and makes him unavailable for a number of turns. The penalized player card may be taken by other players if they have the correct Red Action card ("On the Fly") to play but a player may defend his penalized player with a Blue Response card (in this case "Icing" or "Offsides"). You cannot win with a player in the box. If someone "Teams Out" before you can get a player out of the box, you also lose the points for him. A bit of speed and agility (like real hockey) is offered as a play option. A player (out of turn) can steal a discard from the deck by play of a certain Red Action card. And in turn, this action maybe nullified by the player who's turn it actually is by play of a certain Blue Response card or by simply grabbing the player off the discard pile prior to the attempted theft! Also, this game has some nice "checks" and balances. If at any time a player is able to respond to an opponent's Red Action card with a Blue Response card, the first player receives a "hard check" and has to discard a card as a result. A player needs to judge wisely when the time is right to go on the offensive or be penalized for reckless play. On the economic side, you need really only buy one deck and there are supposedly enough cards for a six player game (though with 60 cards, I really feel the game would probably max out around 5 players). The collation of the decks is very simple - standard number of necessary Action cards (30) and 30 players that are inserted in groups (ie. numbers 51-55 or 80-84). So if you buy multiple decks, you run a very good chance of getting an exact duplication of decks. Overall, I like this little game and wish it well. Two players can finish a game in less than 45 minutes. It's a game that would travel well and it's a good game for younger players. *Suggested House Rules* 1)If a person "Teams Out" with a complete 6-player lineup (no Power Play wild card), then the player receives an extra 5 points. 2)Select a player card or a team as the "goats" and any player caught with one the "goats" at the end of a round is fined -10 points per "goat" player. (This Red Wings fan suggests New Jersey Devils as the "goats.") (c) Gregory Nichols This review may not be reprinted without the author's permission.
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