Thursday, July 14, 2011

Drop Site

by Angie

About a month ago (just before our vacation!), we were lucky enough to receive a review copy of a clever little card game called Drop Site from Bellwether Games. Drop Site is a game in which thematically you are attempting to coordinate your humanitarian aid efforts, sending supplies to those who need them throuhg air drops while communicating with ground forces to ensure a successful operation. Mechanically, this game is an interesting card game in which you are trying to line up the communal pile of cards to match your own secret pile. I'm not sure the theme and mechanics blend together super well, because the game plays quite competitively, whereas I somewhat expected by the theme that we'd cooperate a bit. However, I think Drop Site is a quick fun game with a lot of strategic value.

The gameplay of Drop Site is relatively simple, but I've seen a lot of different strategic plays arise while playing. The cards each have a number value along the upper left side and a +points in the bottom middle. On your turn you may play a card into a communal pile (by playing lower than an existing number on the pile, or by starting a new pile). or you may play one of your cards into your debt (a personal face down pile). The round ends when a certain number of piles have been started, so there is always a tension about when another player might start a new pile and bring closer the end of the round. The goal is to have as many cards as possible from your debt match the top face-up cards in the communal piles when the round ends. You score points equal to the +points number on the card for each match, and lose a couple points for each card that doesn't match. Scores are kept from round to round and the goal is to reach 100 first.

Drop Site is one of those elegant games with simple rules where the depth emerges throughout play. The first few hands of the game, players are often scratching their heads and trying to figure out how to play cards to their best advantage, and when to bank cards for potenital points. As the game progresses, strategies such as blocking another players moves, predicting your opponents plays and using them to your advantage, and deciding when to gamble all become relevant. To me, this is where this game comes to life! The player interaction and strategic planning makes this simple game into a rewarding, interactive, deeper-than-it-seems gameplay experience.

Oh, one other thing I love about this game is that it is extremely protable and doesn't take much space or time to play, but gives a satisfying strategic feel. In the last few weeks, I've played this game sitting on the edge of my bed, at the park, and on a camping trip. Throw it in your bag/backpack/purse and you're set!

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