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The Blood of an Englishman

Relive the legend of Jack and the Beanstalk in this clever two player game about stealing treasure from a fearsome giant.

Will Jack climb the beanstalk three times and live to tell the tale? Or will the giant have him for supper?

Gameplay

One player is Jack and one player is the giant. A deck of fifty cards is shuffled and placed face up in five stacks, ten cards in each stack. These are the castle stacks. You place the stacks so players can see each card in the stack. After the cards are laid out, Jack may take one card in any of the stacks, and move it anywhere else in the stacks, and then the game begins.

On Jack’s turn he takes three actions. These actions can be moving one card from the front of any of the five stacks to the front of any other stack, moving a card at the back of a stack to the front of the same stack, or taking a beanstalk card from the front or back of a stack and adding it to his personal beanstalk stack.

Jack is building a beanstalk. Beanstalk cards are numbered from one to nine. In order to build a beanstalk, Jack must collect six beanstalk cards, adding them to his beanstalk stack in ascending (but not necessarily sequential) order. Once a beanstalk stack is complete, Jack may use an action to take a treasure card from either the back or front of a castle stack and add it to his beanstalk stack, which is then set aside. In order to win the game, Jack must complete three beanstalk stacks and collect a Gold, Goose, and Harp treasure card. He cannot start on a new beanstalk until he has completed his previous one.

The giant, on his turn, may only take one action. He may discard any single beanstalk card from anywhere in the castle stacks, he may move the front four cards in a castle stack to the front of any other castle stack, or he may choose to take two moves, with each move being the movement of a single card at the front of a castle stack to the front of another castle stack.

For the giant to win the game, he must arrange Fee, Fi, Fo, and Fum cards in a single, unbroken group in one castle stack, or place each of these cards as the front card of a castle stack. Alternatively, the giant wins if he discards enough beanstalk cards so that Jack cannot complete his three beanstalks.

The Blood of an Englishman Components

Review

The Blood of an Englishman manages to present an intriguing puzzle for both players, giving a balanced gameplay experience whether you’re the giant or Jack. Both roles have their own unique challenges and you have to consider different aspects of the game depending on your character. As the game progresses the giant’s role becomes steadily easier, and Jack has to spend more and more actions blocking the giant, leading to a tense end game phase.

Gameplay is easy to learn, with simple rules and useful player aid cards that nicely condense both roles so it’s easy to remember all the movement rules as you start out.

The fact that the card layout is randomized each game ensures a lot of variety and means you’re going to have to adjust your strategy each time you play. The randomized layout does have the one drawback that due to luck of the draw one player can start out at a disadvantage, but it can also create interesting new situations for players to tackle.

A solid and engaging two player game, The Blood of an Englishman is a highly satisfying experience. With lots of information to work with each turn, every victory is hard won!

Pros: Both roles are interesting, tense end game phase

Cons: Bad luck during setup can put a player at a disadvantage

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.