Game Name: Yin Yang
Designer: Reiner Knizia
Publisher: Gryphon Games
Playing time: 30 minutes
- 50 Yin Yang Cards
- 10 Scoring Cards
- Rules for playing the game
- Elegant tin box
- Black and White Tokens
One name to me has become synonymous with dull. And that name would be Reiner Knizia. I’d say if someone broke out a game, while keeping the box hidden, and I found myself about as interested and entertained as watching a boil being lanced I’d take a stab I know who designed it. Of course some folks might be entertained by watching that boil drained but then again some out there think game design begins and ends with Reiner. Can anyone tell me when was the last time there was an interesting game that came out bearing his name? 2000? 2001? And please don’t tell me how great Beowulf the Legend or Lord of the Rings is – neither design has really anything to do with the theme! Do not, I repeat, do not get me started on a hobbit named Fatty either! I really don’t know why there’s a theme involved in any of his games anyway because, let’s be honest here, most Knizia themes are randomly tacked on afterwards. Is it a market? Is it castle? Is it Ivanhoe? Formula One racing? A poop filled baby’s diaper?
Does it matter?
Thankfully Gryphon Games is re-releasing Knizia’s Relationship Tightrope slash Fifty-Fifty slash Drahtseilakt (I really have no idea how many versions of this design there are) in a new, relatively theme free edition titled Yin Yang. This edition comes in a double deck sized tin box sporting the Gryphon logo and the Yin/Yang symbol of balance. My understanding is we’ll see more of the upcoming Gryphon card games in this same kind of tin and it’s possible the box is the coolest thing going for this game. Although, I’d say the selection of Yin and Yang as a semi-theme is a good choice since obtaining balance is what the game is all about.
Inside the tin you’ll find fifty Yin Yang cards, the rules, special scoring cards and a small pile of little cardboard tokens used to represent player imbalance towards the dark or light side. The Yin Yang cards are numbered from one to fifty. Then the ten cards with scoring combos. These scoring cards each have a number in the black symbol and one in the white symbol indicating how many tokens will be received by the person who played the highest (black) and lowest (white) card of the round.
Before each round, one of the ten score cards is revealed indicating how many yin or yang tokens will be received by the high and low player. An example would be high 7 and low 3; these cards change every round. The game plays through nine rounds and in each round every player, in order around the table, discards one of their cards. Once each card has been played, the player who played the highest card receives the tokens shown on the score card and the person with the lowest played card receives the white. Everyone else gets nothing. And nothing is what you want.
The idea of the game is balance so you don’t want any tokens whatsoever. If you’ve already received some black or white tokens you’ll want to try to end up getting tokens of the opposite color because they will cancel each other out. So let’s say you have five black tokens and the scoring card shows that the low card played receives four white. You’ll want to have the low card so at the end of the round you only have one black token.
The problem with this game is that I’m probably describing it as being more interesting than it actually is. Sure it’s a way to pass the time while you’re waiting for other players to show up or in between some real gaming but then again so is watching paint dry… The knock isn’t against Gryphon, because they’ve done a nice job with the presentation and components, but more so that this is just the same old phoned in sort of design that screams Knizia. Sure it’s a rehash but it isn’t as if Reiner is knocking any balls out of the park lately either – more like squibbers back to the mound.
I’ve begun to wonder if Reiner Knizia is holding family members of various game company bigwigs hostage and that’s why we just continue to see the same old same old. That’s really the only thing I can figure.