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[Review] Knock! Knock!

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  • Tom Vasel
    Bruno Faidutti is one of my favorite designers, so even though I heard that Knock! Knock! (Jolly Roger Games, 2004 - Bruno Faidutti and Gwenael Bouquin) was
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 7, 2005
      Bruno Faidutti is one of my favorite designers, so even though I
      heard that Knock! Knock! (Jolly Roger Games, 2004 - Bruno Faidutti and
      Gwenael Bouquin) was mostly a bluffing / children's game, I was
      interested in trying it out. And, I must admit, I'm always on the
      lookout for fun games to play with kids - bluffing or no.

      Knock! Knock! IS a simplistic game, and it is best for children. The
      game is basically a one trick pony with the same thing happening again
      and again and again. Fortunately, the game lasts only about twenty
      minutes, before it gets tiresome; and each time I've played it, it
      seems that the game ends exactly before all the players get bored with
      it. Adults, while finding the bluffing idea interesting, find the
      game tedious, but teenagers and kids have had a blast when I taught it
      to them. As a small game that can be easily taught and played in a
      quick amount of time, Knock! Knock! qualifies as a "teen filler."

      Up to five players can play, and each player is dealt two random
      cards which they place face-up in front of themselves. These cards
      are either ghosts, monsters (Frankenstein), or vampires. All the rest
      of the cards are shuffled into one deck, which is placed in the middle
      of the table, after which each player is dealt a hand of five cards.
      One player is chosen to go first, and then play proceeds clockwise
      around the table.

      On a player's turn, they simply choose a card from their hand, slide
      it face-down across the table towards another player, and say "knock,
      knock". The player they are offering the card to has a choice; they
      can "open the door" (accept the card) or say "go away" (refusing the
      card.) If they accept the card, it is flipped over, with its effects
      applied to them. Refusing the card returns the card to the sender,
      who flips it over and applies its effects to themselves. The
      different types of cards are…
      - Ghosts, Monsters, or Vampires: These cards are simply added to the
      player's stack of that type of creature. They are worth one point at
      the end of the game.
      - Rocker: There is one rocker of each of the three type of guests
      (ghosts, monsters or vampires). When added to a party, they double
      the value of that type of guest at the end of the game, making them
      worth two points each.
      - Vamp: There are five vamps of each monster type. They steal a
      guest of their monster type from the party they attend (if there is
      one), giving it to the other player. Vamps can affect rockers and
      - Nerd: The nerd causes the guests of the most numerous type to leave
      the party and go to the other person's party.
      - Grim Reaper: The Grim Reaper causes the guests of the most numerous
      type to die. They are discarded and everyone weeps for them a little.
      - Headless Horseman: He is a normal guest but is worth three points
      at the end of the game.
      - Bouncer: There are two bouncers of each guest type. When placed
      with a group, they protect that group from Nerds and Grim Reapers.

      The game continues until the last card is drawn from the deck. At
      this point, players continue to play the cards from their hands; and
      when the last card has been played, the game ends. Final scores are
      then tallied. Each player gets one point for all normal guests (two
      if they have a rocker of that type), and three for each headless
      horseman. The player with the most points is the winner.

      Some comments on the game…

      1.) Components: I wasn't a huge fan of the tiny box the cards (which
      are normal sized) came in. It's easy to carry around but is very
      prone to damage - my box looks like it's been through the war, and
      I've only carried it around to gaming events. The cards themselves
      are of decent quality, and the artwork on the cards makes the monsters
      look like a bunch of "hip" teenage monsters. Most of the cards have
      icons in the top corners so that you can tell what they do, or what
      monster group they are part of, but I thought that the well-drawn
      artwork on the cards worked just as well. Five blank cards are
      included with the game for players to make their own cards with. I
      won't use them (I'm satisfied with the game "as is") but some might
      like the expandability factor. The game comes in a small package, and
      therefore carries an inexpensive price.

      2.) Rules: The rules are printed on a single sheet of paper which is
      folded up to fit into the small box. It's adequate and explains the
      rules well. I've found the game easy to teach, as people easily
      understand the offering another player a card mechanic. Once players
      know what the rocker, bouncer, Grim Reaper, and nerd do, the game goes
      incredibly quickly. Knock! Knock! is an example of an excellent
      theme, as it's very intuitive what each card does - obviously the Grim
      Reaper causes death, etc. All that I've taught the game to have
      picked it up rather quickly.

      3.) Bluffing: I'm really bad at bluffing games; and so when someone
      offers me a card, I usually have no clue whether it's a good card or
      bad one. Yet I find the choice fun. The only bit of strategy I've
      found is that once a player has amassed a decent amount of points,
      refusing every card offered to them is a smart move. Yes, that means
      you won't gain some extra points, but you won't lose the ones you
      have. This still doesn't protect a player totally, because you may
      have bad cards in your hand, and other players will then refuse those
      cards, hurting you. In short, there is practically no strategy in the
      game, it's all about bluffing the other players.

      4.) Fun Factor: Teenagers and kids (even my five year old) really
      enjoyed the game for what it was. They had a lot of fun, and enjoyed
      bluffing each other, something some of them were surprisingly good at.
      The designers did a good job when they created the game, because just
      as I can sense that my kids are starting to tire of the game, it ends.
      Players don't often ask for a repeat of Knock! Knock!, but they
      enjoyed the game when it was being played. It's fun, but not
      repeatable fun.

      There's not much else I can say about Knock! Knock! - it's a simple
      little bluffing game that is mediocre for adults but fairly fun for
      children. It makes a great game to play in between more
      thought-provoking games and is simple to play and teach. Knock!
      Knock! won't get played every week at my gaming club, but it will get
      played, because the kids will remember the funny game and occasionally
      request it. For a game of this size, that's not a bad thing.

      Tom Vasel
      "Real men play board games."
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