Skull Board Game Review (Asmodee)

7

A beautiful and simple bluffing game, Skull is a 20 minute experience for up to six players. As with many games, there is both the game of Skull and the experience of Skull. The game is fairly straightforward, but the magic that can occur in the right group is undeniable. All of this is helped by the game's intricate and vibrant art -- which dress up an otherwise extremely simple, but challenging, game. In many ways, Skull facilitates the act of bluffing. 

Game Details

Players: 3 to 6

Game Time: 20 Minutes

Age: 13+

Genre: Bluffing / Tile-Based

How is Skull Played?

First: I hate bluffing games. They're likely the games that I hate most. Not only can I not convincingly bluff, but I don't find the experience of bluffing to be fun. Even when I do successfully bluff someone, there's never a feeling of accomplishment or achievement for me. It's just not my type of game.

In Skull, players take turns placing down one of four tiles. Every player begins with three flowers and a skull. After the first tile has been placed, a player can opt not to place a tile, but instead to say a number, such as "1." The next player can choose to ante this, by increasing the number, or pass their turn. 

An ancient game of ornate skulls and dangerous roses, Skull is simple to learn but dangerously difficult to win. You must bluff, lie and pierce through the deceptions to expose the roses.

Once everyone has passed except for the last person to say a number, that person must turn over tiles, starting with their own, until they have found a skull. They can choose to continue with any player they want, but they need to deplete that player's full stack before they can select another player.

If they manage to turn over tiles in the amount that they stated, they get a point. Two points wins the game. On the other hand, if they run into a skull before they get to that number, they lose one of their tiles. Losing all four tiles loses you the game. 

How Does Skull Look?

At a glance, Skull looks like a whole lot of people playing with some fancy coasters. It's undeniable that the game is eye-catching; if you see someone playing Skull from across the room, you'll be drawn in. Of course, these festive designs conceal what is, at its heart, a game that could be played with a few scraps of paper -- or just any deck of cards.

But you'd rather play Skull with this setup than play with a deck of cards. Everything about Skull is well thought out, such as the point counter -- you turn over your mat once you have scored once, and turning it over another time signifies a win.

What's in the Box?
6 player mats * 6 sets of skull and flower tiles * 1 rule book

How Does Skull Play?

I really hate bluffing games, which makes it almost unfair of me to review this game. But, you know -- that's never stopped me before. I absolutely cannot play this game well, but that didn't stop me from enjoying the experience. 

In Skull, you need to derive a lot from very simple answers. If someone says "1" and I refuse to say "2," it's possible I'm doing that because I know one of the two cards in front of me is a skull. But it's also possible that I'm simply trying to mislead people.

It's so easy to mislead people in Skull that it leads to a lot of laughter, back-and-forth, and frustration. It's not a serious bluffing game; it's a very light-hearted one. By the time someone puts out their fifth skull as their first card, or loses their fourth tile on a bad bet, everyone is generally having a good time.

You can potentially win Skull by never bluffing at all, if you mislead enough people into guessing correctly. Further, because of the nature of the game, you're never forced to bluff towards anyone in particular; you're just, you know, sort of bluffing in general. That makes Skull a great game for people like me who, as I've noted multiple times, hate bluffing games.

Skull Game Review

PRO: Gorgeous, vibrant art direction that livens up a relatively simple game.

CON: It is a very simple game, and isn't for those who don't like poker-style bluffing.