Overview: Spot It! is a teeny little card game based on a simple idea: spot the match. Any given pair of cards has exactly one match on it, and your goal is to find it as fast as possible. There are four variations of the game included in the tin, plus you can make up your own.
Players: 2 to 8
Ages: 7 and up (though this works for younger players)
Playing Time: 20 minutes (or less, usually)
Rating: Brilliant! Lightning-fast, easy to teach, quick to play
Who Will Like It? Fans of find-the-object games (like Pictureka) or spot-the-difference games will appreciate this speedy find-a-match competition. Great for both adults and kids playing together.
55 round cards in a handy little tin. Each card has a random assortment of 8 things, which can be anything from a pair of lips to a yin-yang to a snowman, in different sizes. The cards are a little thin and it turns out that round cards are difficult to shuffle, but the circular shape is probably better for arranging the icons. The metal tin is a nice touch, as it’s bright and sturdy.
There are instructions for four games included: The Tower, The Well, Hot Potato, and The Poisoned Gift. All of the games are speed-based: there are no turns and you just look for matches as quickly as you can.
The Tower: each player gets one card face-down, and the rest of the cards go in a stack face-up in the center. Everyone turns up their cards at the same time. When you find a match, you call it and take the card from the top of the stack, placing it on top of your own. The game goes until the “tower” runs out, and the player with the biggest stack wins.
The Well: The reverse of the Tower, you start with one card in the center and deal out the rest of the cards as evenly as possible. Everyone looks for a match from their own draw pile to the center, and tries to get rid of their cards as quickly as possible.
Hot Potato: Each player holds one card in their hand, face-down. At a signal, all the cards are turned over. If you find a match with any other card, you call it and place your card on top of the matching one. (If you have more than one card in your hand, you’re just looking at the top card.) Play goes until one player has all the cards, which are set in the player’s own discard pile. Keep playing rounds like this until cards run out. Player with the smallest discard pile wins.
The Poisoned Gift: Give each player one card face-down, and put the rest face-up in the center. Everyone flips over their cards, and then looks for a match between the stack and somebody else’s top card. Call the match and place the card from the stack onto the other player’s stack. Continue until the center stack runs out. Player with least number of cards wins.
It’s quite a simple idea, but it’s really fun. First there’s just the geekiness of the mathematics involved in creating a set of cards in which any two cards have exactly one match. I mean, it’s not necessarily that complicated, but it gets you to stop and think about it a bit.
The drawings on the cards are cute little random things, but there’s a limited color palette — that means that it’s easy to see the carrot (orange with green top) and the tree (orange trunk, green leaves) and think that you’ve found a match until you look more closely. Also, the icons aren’t necessarily the same size or orientation between cards, so that’s another added trickiness to the cards. Because there are so many different cards, there’s no way you’ll memorize cards, either, so everyone’s on a level playing field.
Playing the game reminds me a little bit of playing Set (another really great card game), because most of the game involves sitting and looking for a match, then shouting it out when you find one. Of course, Spot It! usually goes a lot more quickly, but there are times when you find yourself staring at a pair of cards, unable to find the match even though there are only eight symbols on each card.
All of the games are fairly similar, of course, but we found we really liked Hot Potato with a lot of players. We did introduce a house rule, though. In the normal game, the loser each round gets the whole stack of cards, and everyone else gets none. So you don’t have to be the fastest — just faster than the slowest one. We played this game with 7 players, and we stopped each round when only two people had cards left. What that meant was that the two slowest players didn’t have the same number of cards: sometimes you’d have 3 and 4, but other times you might have a player with 1 and a player with 6. It made the game a bit more interesting and helped spread out the cards a little.
This isn’t a deep game, to be sure, but it’s undeniably fun. You can play it with just about any age, and it’s especially fun with a lot of people. The only thing I would have changed is that there are a few of the symbols that are words: “Stop,” “Art,” and “OK.” They’re all different colors but it’s the only thing in the game that sort of requires reading ability, and it would have been nice to have those replaced by other drawings.
Wired: Speedy spot-the-match game is lots of fun and a cinch to teach. Nice metal tin.
Tired: Round cards can be difficult to shuffle and handle.
Disclosure: GeekDad received a review copy of this game.