Twin It is a brand new set collection and pattern matching game from Cocktail Games and Coiledspring Games. Designed by Nathalie Saunier, Rémi Saunier and Thomas Vuarchex, featuring artwork from the latter, the game sees 2 – 6 players attempting to collect matching pairs of cards. Lasting around 10 minutes the table will fill with patterned cards and hands will slap the table, and accidentally other hands, in haste. However, is this a game you’ll want to keep coming back to? Let’s find out!
Setup is as simple as shuffling the deck of cards and roughly splitting it into a pile per player. These stacks won’t need to be exact, just about even so one player’s pile doesn’t run out. In clockwise order, starting with the player with the most colourful outfit, each player will turn the top most card of their pile over and place it into the middle. Whilst this occurs players will be scanning the table for pairs.
Included are 135 double-sided cards and as you may notice, for a game about pairing cards, that isn’t an even number. Not only do some of the cards have unique, but still similar, artwork on them, some designs feature on three cards. At any time when players notice two cards that match anywhere on the table the first to get their hands down on both claims the set. Not only can sets be claimed at any time, they can also be claimed from any place. This could be from the middle of the table or the top of players’ piles. Called a robbery this could even, via the third identical pattern, be with a previously claimed set! A set is seen as a point and the aim of Twin It is simply be the first to obtain 5 sets.
There is another way to lose claimed sets, as well as the robbery of a third matching pattern. If at any point a player attempts to claim a set incorrectly, when two patterns don’t quite match, they must discard a previously claimed set. This set is simply placed at the bottom of their stack. A variant is included for this main game mode called Forbidden Design. In this the winner of a previous game takes three cards and places them in front of themselves. They are then unable to legally claim a set matching that pattern, though everyone else can. It’s a nice way to stop the same person from constantly winning, though as that player there is even more satisfaction if you pull off a victory.
A team variant is also included for 4 – 6 players. The game plays in the same way as usual though a set must be claimed by two separate members of a team, not an individual player. Given the current COVID situation I have been unable to try this out, though am excited for when it is possible. The final gamemode is a cooperative one. While for me this lacked the tension and competitive happy slapping of hands to gain sets quickest, it offers a more relaxed experience. That being said, players still need to be quick as they spread the patterns out across the table and aim to find pairs and trebles together, all whilst against the clock.
Having some sets of three matching patterns is genius. Firstly, matching patterns are more likely to come out of the deck – speeding up the start of the game where fewer patterns are in the middle of the table. Secondly, it opens up the opportunity to steal already won pairs from opponents, making the scoring a little more fluid. One player can be well out in front with 4 sets to their name and still end up with little to no points and lose the game. There is always the sense anything can happen, right up until someone wins their fifth set.
As expected in a pattern matching based game the experience hinges on the artwork that players will be matching. With a mixture of only a few bright / distinct colours the patterns of Twin It are exactly what is needed. Whist individual designs are clearly different when next to each other, across the table or rotated they can look fiendishly similar. This drives the fear of not wanting to incorrectly claim pairs and adds in enough hesitation that players will curse themselves for not just going for it.
If you are a gamer whom cannot stand to see a single card slightly damaged, Twin It may not be a game for you. Cards can be bent from people trying to slam their hands down on pairs, though so far nothing has ever been bent in a way that cannot be undone. However, a slight concern is that one card as a corner peeling – though this was as a result of three hands attempting to slap it from different directions. While the cards might be fiddly to shuffle due to their small nature, they work well during play as they spread out across the table. The play space needed would be insane if they were “normal” sized cards, especially as the cards in the middle build up.
Twin It is a small box game that ticks every box it tries to. The fast, frantic fun caused by the deck of cards is exactly what will see it get to the table over and over again. Players cannot help but be competitive, making the occasional stolen set even more of a reason to cheer or groan. While a game can be over in 5 minutes, Twin It is rarely only at the table for that long, with cries for a rematch almost instantaneous every game. Right now might not be the ideal time for a game where everyone is grabbing the same cards. However, as soon as things return to normal Twin It will be one of those go to family friendly fillers!
(Editor’s Note: Twin It was provided to us by Coiledspring Games for the review. Check out the official webpage for the game here.)