Histrio. Designed by Bruno Cathala & Christian Martinez
Publisher: Bombyx
Players: 2-5
Playing Time: 40mins

MECHANICS – 4
THEMES – 4
ART – 5
FUN – 5
REPLAY VALUE – 4

Total Rating: 4.4 Stars

Histrio is a great family friendly, fast paced, vibrant game that focuses on card drafting, deception, manipulation and bluffing.

The core premise of the game is that you are the owner of a troupe of actors, preparing for a grand festival to show off your latest play to the king… slight issue however is that the king is very fickle and he’s not sure if he’s in the mood for a COMEDY or TRAGEDY.

Through multiple rounds, you and the other players are going to take it in turns to visit the cities of the land and recruit actors to your troupe in order to put on a play that will suit the king. This is done in secret then revealed simultaneously.
The actors come in 3 varieties: Comedians, Dramatist and Acrobats.
Comedians make your play more funny. (Increasing your Comedy value)
Dramatists make your play more serious (Increasing your Tragedy value)
Acrobats are wildcards (Each grants you a cool ability)

As you go along recruiting actors, you’ll also be influencing the king’s mood while trying to keep aware of what other players are holding on to. There is a slight kink in the process though and that is that you can’t go back to a city you’ve already been until you hit a criteria or unlock the cities again. This adds an extra layer of complexity and strategy, especially when two or more players land on the same city and all the actors from that location are lost!

At the end of the drawing phase (known as a season), the players add up the value of all their actors and acrobats and consult the king’s mood. For every actor that matches the king’s mood you’ll get so many points and subtract actors that don’t match. The player with the highest value gains bonus points in the form of Ecus (money).

At the end of two seasons, the player with the most cash wins!

So good points about this game:

It’s super fun – There’s giggles to be had and the theme is amazing! Theatrical performances and an art style that is beautiful.
It’s pretty easy to get your head around – This is a great game for the family. I’ve played this with my 10 year old son, he loves it and I’ve played it with adult non-gamer friends and they easily got it too.
The production is stunning! – Whether it’s the amazing cards, artwork, the plastic coins instead of cardboard cut outs, the caravals or the actually spinning stage (yes, there’s a prop stage to show you which way the king’s mood is) the production value of this game blows my mind considering I paid £10 for this game! So much value.
Did I mention it’s beautiful???? – Yeah… because it freaking is!

Possible improvements/critiques:

Following the leader – one of the few gripes I have with the game is the ability it has for sudden lost of interest by some players, especially if playing with less players such as 3. When you have one player give a sudden jolt to the king’s influence on the final turn and your troupe is all in the wrong suit, you can find yourself rather poor in comparison to other players, meaning that anything short of a miracle and you’re never going to win this game, leading to possible disinterest. Luckily, in those game when it happened, the people who were behind didn’t let that stop them enjoying the second season and they were still smiling come the end but it’s something you should be aware of.

Final Thoughts: This game will have many people cheering for an encore after it the game ends!

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