Happy week two of the holiday month of the year! I broke out of my norm this week and checked out a game that holds more players and lasts a bit longer than I usually would play, and it is called Secret Santa by Osprey Games.

The games that I play regularly tend to last at most a half hour, but Secret Santa is game that lasts from a minimum of about half an hour and can go for an hour or more. It also suits more players than my normal games, allowing for 4-8 players, instead of the 2-4 player games I’m used to. The goal of Secret Santa is to be the first player to get rid of your hand. The game comes with the box, a deck of cards, and a score sheet.

The card art is very nice and the quality of the cards are great. They have a nice matte finish, and I haven’t seen any wear on the edge of the cards, so I’m not sure if you would need to sleeve the deck.

The game begins with the deck shuffled and then dealt out as evenly as possible to all the players. The game is played in a series of rounds. The first player begins the first round by playing any amount of cards from their hand that are the same number. All players after her have to play the same amount of cards, but the number on the cards have to be greater than the cards played previously.

For example, if Susie plays three #2 cards, then Jack, who is after her, must also play three cards, and his cards have to be of a number higher than the number 2. Jack chooses to play three #4 cards. Bill is after Jack. Bill plays three #7 cards. Linda is after Bill, and Linda doesn’t have any cards in her that she A) has three of, and B) are of a great number than 7. Because of this, Linda has to pass. Once all players have passed, the last player standing is the player who begins the next round.

The advantage to being the first player at the start of a round is that you get to decide how many cards will be played that round. This can allow you to strategically play more of your hand.

At the start of the next round, players continue to use their existing hand and play onward, until one player has played all of the cards in their hand.

The first player to successfully play all their cards gains 4 points. The next player gains 3 points, and so on. Once points have been assigned, the cards are shuffled back up, and dealt out for another series of rounds.

There is no set number of rounds you can play, so this game could last a short amount of time, or long amount of time, it’s all up to the players. Whoever has the most points at the end of the evening is the winner!

Now, the deck contains not only numbered cards, but there are special cards as well that give special abilities.

For example, some special cards are wilds, and can be used as any number needed. Some special cards can end the round immediately, and there are tons more abilities. These cards shake the game up a bit. My only gripe with these special cards is that there are a lot of them, and there is no text or cheat card to explain what the special cards do. I’ve seen games where multiple players have to pass around the rulebook to see what some of the cards in their hand do.

Besides that, I found this game to be a great holiday game, and it definitely works really well for larger groups.

That’s Secret Santa by Osprey Games!

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