Slapshot: A Review and Giveaway

Slapshot

Slapshot: The Legendary Card Game of Ice Hockey Loonery - this is, indeed, a fitting name for this reprint by Columbia Games. While this game originally came out 30 years ago, I only recently had the opportunity to try it out for the first time. I'll admit that I was a bit skeptical at first - being from Arizona, ice hockey is one of the furthest things from my mind. I can say I've been to one hockey game in my life and watched maybe two live games on TV. Ultimately, I've spent more time watching hockey on MacGyver than anything else.

Fortunately, I discovered that no previous hockey knowledge is required to play Slapshot. However, while anyone can play and enjoy it, the theme is most likely to be appreciated by true hockey fans.

Gameplay

In Slapshot, each player is a team manager whose goal is to put together the best team possible, make it to the playoffs, and win the championship.

The game consists of a scoreboard, scoring markers, and 3 different types of cards, representing goalies, defensemen, and forwards. Each player is dealt and always retains in hand exactly 3 forwards, 2 defensemen, and 1 goalie. Each turn is spent either trading players, drafting new players, or playing a "game" against an opponent. Trading and drafting allow players to try to put together the most powerful team they can, while playing games puts the teams to the test to score points - and possibly incur injuries.

To trade, select a player, randomly pick a card from his hand, and give back a card of the same type from your own hand. To draft, discard a card and draw another one of the same type.

While trading and drafting are important, the real meat of Slapshot can be found in playing games, which advance players toward the playoffs. To play a game, select an opponent and arrange your cards in any order you'd like. You and your opponent then simultaneously reveal your cards, one by one. The card with the higher value scores a point. If one of the cards is a goalie, no points are scored, regardless of the point value. If a bruiser turns up, the opposing player is injured - after each game, injured players are discarded and new players are drafted in their place.

The winner of each game moves forward one space on the scoreboard. Players continue this pattern until the last space is reached ("Playoffs"), and the players in first and second place battle each other in a final best-of-7 playoff round. The player who wins the playoffs is crowned as the champion!

Review

As my wife and I played the game for the first time, the results were surprising: what began as skepticism quickly turned into a laugh-out-loud shouting match of hoots and hollers. We were both in it to win! We had to work hard to keep our voices down so as to not wake up our sleeping 1-year-old. Needless to say, we were amazed that we were getting into it so much.

What I enjoy most about Slapshot is the bluffing aspect, which occurs when ordering your cards for each game. The card order is very important to the outcome because it determines when you will block shots, when your most skilled players come into play, and when your bruisers will injure an opponent. While the cards can be arranged randomly, we found that purposely trying to anticipate the opponent's card order was very fun and challenging.

For instance, if you believe your opponent will come out fighting with his highest-valued card, you would want to start out with a goalie to block his shot or, even better, a bruiser to injure him and remove him from play. If you have a weak card, you would want to time it so that it comes up against your opponent's goalie or bruiser. Through the course of the game, you begin to notice patterns in each opponent's play style and you can try to take advantage of this. When you've successfully predicted your opponent's moves that's when the cheering begins - but the cheering can quickly turn to shouting when your best player gets injured in the process.

What I don't like is that the game seems to drag after awhile. The playoff space on the scoreboard is the 9th slot, meaning that a 2-player game could include up to 17 individual games before even reaching the playoffs, with up to 7 more during the playoffs. This happened to us, and by the time we got there, our desire to finish a full playoff match fizzled out. A 6-player game could include up to 49 games before reaching the playoffs. This may not be a problem for players who choose card order randomly, but if you like to take a moment before each game to plan out your card order, I suggest starting out each player at the 4th or 5th space on the scoreboard.

I should also point out that trading and drafting can be done indefinitely, except if using one of the advanced rules included with the game. Being too meticulous about your team roster could lead to fewer individual games and progress players toward the playoffs more slowly. Also, while the game rules are mostly very simple, there are some small details that had us referring back to the rules several times.

In all, Slapshot is a fun game that's worth checking out. If you like legendary card games, ice hockey, or even just loonery, it just might be for you.

Pros: Suspense, bluffing, laugh-out-loud fun, wacky characters

Cons: Can feel too long, theme could be off-putting to non-hockey fans

Full disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.

Giveaway

Now you have the chance to try out Slapshot for yourself! We have a brand new copy that's itching to be given away, so be sure to add your entries below to have a "shot" at winning.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Christopher Plambeck
Christopher Plambeck's picture

Powergrid is a great game, easy to teach, and can be enjoyed by grognards and newbies alike. Perfect for introducing people to the New World of Boardgaming.

SmashAdam
Christopher Plambeck's picture

Fluxx is probably my favorite casual game. It's simple and easy to pickup and teach new people. You can get through a game quickly so you don't have to worry about starting and not being able to finish. Plus the game is different every time with so many combinations of rules. 

Ricki
Christopher Plambeck's picture

I love 10 Days in Europe.  It is challenging and educational, but fun and easy to learn.

Scott
Christopher Plambeck's picture

I love Ticket to Ride.  Its easy for new players, has some strategy and is simply fun.  It may not be heavy but this is Casual Gamer :)