Pairs (created by James Ernest by CheapAss Games, $10) is a simple card game that hit Kickstarter.com in March of 2014 with a $12k funding goal, and it rapidly escalated to being a Kickstarter phenomenon, raising an amazing $332k and 7,781 backers before it closed. Of course I was caught up in the hysteria and backed it. It was a fun Kickstarter to be a part of as it sailed past stretch goal after stretch goal, unlocking decks with different themes and art to choose from. I backed at the $16 level, for one copy of the game in the deck theme of my choice.
Recently, my copy of the game arrived in the mail. Of the 12 different themes available, I selected the Barmaids Deck, because it had beer and pretty girls on the cards. It was a decision that made itself, really.
Advertised as being a new classic pub game, Pairs is a simple press-your-luck game with cards numbered 1 to 10. Players take turns drawing a card, trying not to get a pair. If you get a pair, you score points (and points are bad). You can also choose to fold, instead of taking a card, and score the lowest card in play. Folding gets you some points, but catching a pair could get you even more.
Pairs doesn’t have a winner, just a loser. The first player to reach a target score loses, and the target score depends on the number of players. For example, with 4 players, the loser is the first player to 16 points.
This simple game mechanic lends itself well to a game played between friends to determine who buys the next round of drinks, and being a small deck of cards, the portability makes it easy to transport and play at a bar.
How enjoyable a game is (any game) has everything to do with the people you are playing it with. With friends, gamers or not, while having drinks after work, you will probably have a good time. I think this game almost requires alcohol to appreciate it at its full capacity for enjoyment. If you pull this out with your hardcore Warhammer 40k group, amped up on Mountain Dew or Monster, you deserve all the contempt you will receive.
I am reminded of the words of the Grail Knight in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – “Choose wisely, for while the true Grail will bring you life, the false Grail will take it from you.”
Choose wisely, good gamers. Choose wisely.
Rating: Retry – This is good. We will actively choose to play this game again, put it in our rotation and consider playing any add-ons and expansions for the game. Retry is a keeper in our book.