Radio Review #38 – Trick or Treat

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(2013 – Leder Games)

 

“Little ghost, little ghost….the one I’m scared of the most….”

 

In Fall of 2012, designer Patrick Leder (Five-Fingered Severance) began a Kickstarter campaign for his newest design, Trick or Treat that successfully completed in November. Trick or Treat is a self-published card game that mixes a very light worker placement mechanic with aspects of set collection and take-that elements, as well as using certain cards to perform special events.

In Trick or Treat, players begin their Halloween hunting in a neighborhood full of various houses and locations. By visiting these locations and gathering the treats that they provide, players will be able to return home and gain points based on collecting various sets of treats. However, a Bully roams the neighborhood and can even be tipped off by other characters as to your location. A Haunted House is also present in the town where players can scare their opponents enough that they’ll lose some of those hard-earned points. The player that has had the most successful Trick or Treat outing by the end of All Hallows Eve is determined the winner.

 

 

Components:

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– Character Cards

 

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– Location Cards

 

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– Chocolate Treat Cards

 

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– Fruity Treat Cards

 

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– Gooey Treat Cards

 

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– Spicy Treat Cards

 

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– Trick Cards

 

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– Bully Card

 

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– Set Cards

 

 

 

Setup:

In Trick or Treat, players will visit various locations in a neighborhood on Halloween in their quest of collecting multiple sets of delicious treats. The main play area is made up of these Location cards, each representing a different place that the kids can visit during the night. There are 3 main types of cards in Trick or Treat: Location cards, Trick or Treat cards, and Set cards. Before setup, players will shuffle the Trick or Treat cards and Set cards into two separate Draw Decks.

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The Haunted House, Mansion, and Alley locations are placed in the neighborhood (main play area). Each of these locations have specific rules for players that visit them, which I’ll cover in a bit, but otherwise have no additional setup.

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Next, a number of Houses equal to the number of players in the game are placed into the neighborhood. A game of Trick or Treat can be played from 2 to 6 players, so if there is a total of 6 players, then 6 Houses will be added. Each of these Houses will give a Trick or Treat to any kid that visits there. Therefore, 1 Trick or Treat card is drawn from the corresponding Draw Deck and placed face-up next to each available House.

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The next location that goes in the neighborhood is the Carnival. The Carnival can provide various Trick or Treats for a player to choose from, therefore a total of 5 Trick or Treat cards are drawn from the Draw Deck and placed next to this location.

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The final (and most fought over) location in the neighborhood is the Home. This is where kids can retreat to in order to sift through their candy stash and collect points for particular sets of collected Treats. 3 Set cards are drawn from the Set Deck and placed next to the Home location. These are the available Sets of Treats that players can turn in for the points listed on the card.

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The Haunted House location allows players to deal out Fear Tokens to their opponents. The game is essentially a deck of various cards, therefore players will need to use something (whether it be poker chips, pennies, etc) to use for these tokens in the game. I had recently purchased the Upgrade Pack for my copy of Alien Frontiers and had a bunch of the original colony components left over, unused. The look like little Skittles, so I decided to use those in my games of Trick or Treat. We like to call them “poisoned Death Skittles of Terror”. They probably have razor blades in them……Anyways, use whatever you’d like and call them whatever you’d like. Just know that for the purposes of this review, the tokens seen in these pictures do not come with the game. Have a supply of these Fear tokens near the main play area.

Finally, each player will choose a Character card that represents at which location they are currently at in the neighborhood. These cards a two-sided and have a different kid/costume on each side giving players a large selection of Characters to choose from. A Bully card is also placed near the play area for use in the game. At the end of initial setup, the neighborhood should look something like this:

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Gameplay:

During a game of Trick or Treat, players will move around the neighborhood and visit the various locations in order to try and collect sets of Treats that they can then turn into the Home location and collect Victory Points. Each time a player earns a Set card, another Set card is drawn and placed beside the Home location to replace it. When there are only 2 Set cards left next to the Home and the Draw Deck has run out, the game ends. The player with the most Victory Points at the end of the game is the winner.

At its basic level, Trick or Treat works much like a worker placement game, except that each player only has 1 worker. Each location only allows one visitor at a time, therefore if a particular player is already at a specific location, all other players are blocked from visiting there (of course there are special occurrences where this rule can be broken). When a player places their Character card onto a location, an Action tied to that location is taken. These make up the two parts of a player’s turn; Movement and Action. Play will rotate between players clockwise, with each player doing a single Movement and then a single Action according to the location they‘ve visited.

 

 

Movement:

On a player’s turn, they must move to an available location in the neighborhood. Players are not allowed to stay at the same location that they’ve started the turn on, nor are they allowed to visit a location that contains another player’s Character. Of course there are certain cards that will allow players to bend these rules. The Trick or Treat deck is made up of both Treat cards and Trick cards. While Treat cards are those that players are attempting to collect for their needed Sets, Trick cards will allow players to break certain rules of the game and gain one-time use special abilities.

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It is currently Player A’s (the Ghost‘s) turn. He decides to move his Character from the Carnival to one of the 4 houses (there are 4 Houses because it is a 4-player game). He chooses the House that is currently giving away Nutty Fudge.

 

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He would not have been able to move to the House giving away the Taffy, since another player is already at that House.

 

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Rather than moving from the Carnival, if the player had the Costume Change (Trick) card, he could have used it during his turn and chosen to stay at the Carnival space for his movement. Normally, a player is required to move to a different location than the one he starts his turn on, but the Costume Change card breaks this rule when played.

 

 

 

Action:

Each location has a unique Action that can be taken when a Character visits it. A majority of the locations involve collecting Trick or Treat cards and adding them to a player’s hand, though a few have different instructions. After a player has moved his Character Card onto the location, the action is taken. Let’s take a look at the various locations and what actions they provide:

 

 

Haunted House

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When visiting the Haunted House, a player has 2 options. They can either discard up to 3 Trick cards from their Hand and deal out that same number of Fear tokens to all opposing players, or they may discard up to 3 Treat cards and rid themselves of that many Fear tokens. Each Fear token is worth -1 Victory Point at the end of the game. There are far more Treat cards in the game than Trick cards, therefore players must decide how valuable these Tricks are worth to them in using them for their special actions, or discarding them at the Haunted House for dealing out Fear tokens.

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Player B (the Skeleton) visits the Haunted House and decides to discard 2 Trick cards from his Hand. Player’s A, C, and D would then each receive 2 Fear tokens. At some point during the game, these opponents would have the opportunity to visit the Haunted House and discard 2 Treat card from their Hand to get rid of these Fear tokens if they wished.

 

 

The Mansion

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When a player visit’s the Mansion, he is allowed to draw the top 3 cards off of the Trick or Treat Draw Deck. He will keep all three cards. The Mansion is a good location to visit when a particular Treat you are looking for is not currently represented at any of the other locations, or those other locations already have a visitor.

 

 

The Alley

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The Bully likes to hide out in the Alley. With his sole pleasure of beating up and stealing other’s Treats, player’s can visit the Alley in order to tip off the whereabouts of other Characters to the Bully, and send him on his way to do his damage. When a player visit’s the Alley, he sends the Bully to another location that currently has one of the other Characters present (the Bully can never visit the Home location or the Alley location). The player can then steal a random card from each player there.

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Any Character cards that were currently at the location are removed from the location and placed in front of their controlling players. The Bully works much like a Character card in that no other player may visit the same location if he is currently on it. However, a player making a movement from the Alley to another location may visit any location regardless of whether or not it contains the Bully or any other opponents.

 

 

Houses

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Houses work very similar to the Mansion, except for the fact that 1 of the Trick or Treat card types is always known. When a player visits one of the Houses, he will take the face-up card beside the House and then draw 2 more cards from the Draw Deck. All 3 of these cards remain in the players Hand. A final card is drawn from the Draw Deck to replace the face-up card beside the House.

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Player C (the Kitten) decides to visit 1 of the 4 Houses in the neighborhood. She chooses to visit the one that is giving away the Gingersnaps, since she needs it for his Spicy Treat set.

 

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After moving to the House and taking the Gingersnaps card, she draws a “Move Bully” Trick card and a Licorice Whip (another Spicy Treat) card from the Draw Deck. He has now added these 3 cards to his Hand.

 

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Finally, he draws another card from the Deck and places it next to the House. This House is now giving away Chocolate Bars to the next visitor.

 

 

The Carnival

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Every memorable Halloween neighborhood needs a good Carnival. The Carnival location is probably the most appeasing location for collecting specific cards in that it only gives a player a single card, but gives a option of 5 known cards to choose from. When a player visit’s the Carnival, he can choose any of the 5 Trick or Treat cards that are face-up. After taking this card into his Hand, he can then choose to discard a card and take the Action again.

 

 

Home

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During the night, Character will need to visit Home in order to turn in their collected Treats for Victory Points. 3 Set cards are available at the Home location. Each Set card lists the type and amount of Treat that is needed to complete the Set card. For instance, in order to complete the Set card below, the player would need to have a Fruity Treat, a Spicy Treat, and a Gooey Treat. If so, he could visit the Home location and discard these 3 cards in order to collect this Set card.

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Player D (the Dinosaur) visit’s the Home location. Since he has a Bubble Gum, a Caramel, and a Taffy Treat, he could turn in these 3 cards for the Set card that needs “All 3 Treats from the Gooey Set”. By collecting this card, he would score 6 Victory Points at the end of the game. A new Set card would then by drawn from the Set card Draw Deck as a replacement at the Home location. Only 1 Set can be completed per turn.

 

 

 

Treat Cards:

Cards drawn into a player’s Hand are made up of Treat cards and Trick cards. A player may never have more than 12 cards in their Hand at any one time, therefore if a player ever finds themselves with more than 12 cards in their Hand, he must discard back down to 12. The majority of cards found in the Trick of Treat Deck are Treat cards. There are 4 different types of Treats and 3 specific Treat for each type:

– Fruity Treats (Lemon Drops, Suckers, and Jelly Bears)
– Gooey Treats (Caramel, Bubble Gum, and Taffy)
– Chocolate Treats (Chocolate Coins, Nutty Fudge, and Chocolate Bars)
– Spicy Treats (Gingersnaps, Licorice Whips, and Cinnamon Balls)

 

 

Trick Cards:

There are 5 different types of Trick cards. Each Trick card lists when on a player’s turn that card can be played. As mentioned before, a Trick card will allow a player to bend the rules and allow them certain one-time special abilities. Let’s take a look at these cards:

 

Costume Change

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Any intelligent Trick-or-Treater knows the Costume Change trick. It’s the oldest trick in the book. Walk up to a house, get some candy, come back later in a different outfit, get more candy. The Costume Change Trick card can be played during a player’s movement. Instead of having to move to a new location, this card allows players to stay at their current location and take the location’s Action is if they had just visited there.

 

 

Egging Houses

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The Egging Houses card takes the role of a Wild card of sorts. The Egging Houses Trick card can count as any 1 Treat currently face-up at the Carnival location when a player is turning in cards to complete a Set at the Home location. While only 1 Set can be completed per turn, a player may use as many Egging Houses cards as they wish to complete that 1 Set.

 

 

Brave

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Normally, when players visit the Haunted House, they need to discard a number of Treat cards equal to the number of Fear Tokens they wish to get rid of (up to a maximum of 3). However, when taking the Action at the Haunted House, the Brave Trick card allows a player to discard 3 Fear tokens. Therefore, this card can be used in place of having to discard 3 Treats, yet rid the player of some Fear tokens.

 

 

Sneak

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Opposing Characters as well as the Bully will block a player from visiting a location if that location is already occupied. During a player’s movement, they can play the Sneak Trick card, which will allow them to sneak into the location and use that location’s action without being seen by the Bully or any other Characters located there.

 

 

Move Bully

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The Bully is always moved when a player visit’s the Alley. However, this costs the player his movement and action for that turn. The Move Bully Trick card can be played at any point during a player’s turn, and will allow the player to move the Bully to any other location. If this location contains a Character the player can take the normal Bully action of stealing a random card from that player. This card is played separate from the player’s normal movement and action and multiple Move Bully Trick cards can be played during the same turn.

 

 

 

End-Game Conditions & Scoring:

When a Set card has been collected and there are no more Set cards left to replace it (thus only 2 Set cards left at the Home location), the game automatically ends. At this point, players will total up the Victory Points found on their collected Set cards minus 1 Victory Point for each Fear token they could not get rid of before the end of the game.

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The player with the highest number of Victory Points has won the game and been the most successful Trick-or-Treater.

 

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Thoughts:

Trick or Treat incorporates the slightest use of the worker placement mechanic and merges it with a set collection aspect to deliver a light and entertaining card game, though it really plays much more like a board game. With a player’s turn consisting merely of a movement and taking an Action, the game is quite easy and intuitive to teach within a matter of minutes. There’s a good mixture of take-that elements (Bully and the Haunted House location) and manipulation of rules with the Trick card special abilities that allows for some interesting player interaction and variety.

The game can be a bit more tactical and lengthier than one would guess at first glance (though it can still fit the filler-type genre). While the box states a game length of 30 minutes, I’ve found most 4-player games to last around an hour. The game never felt too long and the longer length aided in being able to set up and pre-plan moves and actions for future turns. If you’re looking for a quicker game however, the it is easily adjustable as all you’ll need to do is take out some of the Set Cards, since the end-game triggers once they run out.

After a few sessions, players will learn how to use combinations of certain Trick Cards and locations to their advantage. For instance, gaining the required Treat Cards needed to complete 2 of the current Sets at the Home location, while also making sure you have a Costume Change trick card. While a player normally takes 1 Set Card from the Home location and then has to move to a different location on his next turn, the player in this instance can complete a Set, play the Costume Change card on his next turn in order to stay at his current location, and then complete another Set.

The artwork is visually appealing and fits well with the Halloween themed atmosphere. For those of you that enjoyed the XBLA game, Costume Quest by Double Fine Studios, you’ll find the same sort of artistic humor and Halloween flavor with Trick or Treat. It’s a neat little card game, that plays like a board game, and provides a balanced amount of light strategy, intuitive gameplay, and take-that elements to stay on the game shelf for quite a while.

If you are interested in picking up a copy, you can do so directly from the designer’s website: www.ledergames.com/store

 

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