Blank, released back in 2017, is a party game that utilizes Uno like shedding and hand management mechanics – the twist being a legacy like aspect. Designed by Henri Kermarrec, featuring artwork from Rob Dalton and Winnie Shek, the game sees 2 – 6 players use card effects and stick to various rules, before writing and doodling on their own game. Published by The Creativity Hub, will the game put smiles of players’ faces or will it draw a blank? Let’s find out!
The aim of Blank is a simple one, be the first player to get rid of all of their cards. Players start with a hand of 7 cards, with 3 random rule cards in play for all players to obey. With the deck in the centre of the table the game starts with the first card being flipped over, to start the discard pile, with the starting player randomly chosen.
On a turn the active player can play cards of the same colour or number as the top discarded card. Choosing one of these, as many cards of that type can be played. For example, if a red 6 is at the top of the discard pile, the player could choose to play either as many red cards or as many 6’s as they wish. These newly played cards are placed onto the top of the discard pile. Only the top most card is activated. Therefore, if a card with a game effect is played but isn’t the top card of the discard pile the effect does not occur. This top card is also the new card for the next player, in clockwise order, to play from.
The game continues with cards being played and effects triggered. Effects that come printed on the game cards range from all other players drawing two cards to speaking and acting slowly for the rest of the game. Examples of effects we have added include dabbing, barking and speaking in specific accents – more on how this occurs later. If at any point you cannot go, being unable to match either colour or number, a penalty of a single card is awarded – being drawn from the draw deck.
At all times players must pay attention, not only to what others are playing but also the three active rule cards. From all of the usable rule cards three are used each game. These range from whenever a 1 is played everyone must touch the deck or when a pink is played a specific player must moo, through to when a 2 is played the next player skips their turn. Failing to follow any rule is worthy of a card penalty. As the aim is to shed all of your cards, gaining additional cards is never good.
The first person to get rid of their cards doesn’t just get to gloat they are the winner. This is where the legacy element of the game comes into play, with the winner needing to be armed with a pen. They can either write and illustrate a game card or create a new rules card. For the game cards, the illustration can be of anything. As can the game effect, though a rough guideline of whom is being targeted and what they have to do is advised. Rules cards follow an if this then that style. For example, one we have created is if a card with an illustration is played the next player must say aloud what it is – else they gain a card as a penalty.
The standard game presents an enjoyable experience. Although the number of game cards with effects is low there is a good amount and variety in the rules cards. With different rules each game feels a little different from the last, though the fun would fizzle out. It is the legacy element that truly keeps the game fresh. Adding an effect onto a game card means it’ll always be in the deck. When a new rules card is created it comes straight into play as the game recommends instantly using it for the subsequent game. This might be a little anticlimactic if doing this when already agreeing it was the final round of the night. Still, it is otherwise an awesome way to see the instant impact of a rule.
Blank sets up the game with an awesome framework, giving enough for players’ creativity to start to flourish. Of the 72 game cards only a handful come with effects and illustrations, with just under half having illustrations. The game comes with 14 premade rule cards, with 18 further blank rule cards ready to be written. Players can make the game as daft as they like, and technically you could break the 3 rule card limit via your own rules.
The game is almost too good at what it does. A few alternative rules cards styles would have been great. If this then that is great due to the simplicity. They are easy to understand, follow and pull others up on. Yet, when given the power to write a rule it makes players’ creative juices flow almost too much. Players end up thinking of possibilities that don’t quite fit into that format. Thankfully, most can be tweaked to fit.
One component that would have improved the hand written rules cards are stickers for the numbers and colours. It is certainly possible to make a rules card that says something along the lines of when a green is played. It isn’t quite as clear as the colour based printed rules cards though, due to them having the green colour and shape, not just the word. Thankfully, it is something that is easy to work around.
I cannot remember another game where players mistaking rules has been anything but a frustration point. Between games the rules often completely change and a brand new one could have even been written. As an example in one game playing a 1 may mean players need to hit the deck. Players get used to this being a rule of the game. In a subsequent game chances are that rule card won’t be in play. Still, players will be instinctively and hilariously diving across the table when a 1 is played. Blank is a game not to be taken seriously and whenever a rule error like this happens it is just part of the entertainment, for all players – including the one that failed.
As far as the basic game goes there is an enjoyable, slightly quirky, Uno like card based experience. Without the legacy twist it would be acceptable but the deck initially lacks in the game effects department. This is so players can truly customise their experience. Playing in around 10 minutes Blank could be played in a short gap. Chances are you’ll want to play round after round – with the game constantly providing unique experiences. For when you want a card game to provide a laugh, Blank is the perfect game to turn to.
(Editor’s Note: Blank was provided to us for the review by Coiledspring Games. Check out the official web page here.)