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Antidote

Deduce, bluff, trade, and hopefully find a cure, in Antidote — a card game in which players are researches trying desperately to find the antidote for a toxin they’ve all been infected with.

In order to deduce the antidote you will have to share information, but not too much, as you want to be the only one with the cure. What can you risk giving away and what do you keep secret?

Gameplay

In Antidote there are 7-8 colored suits (depending on how many players you have in the game), with each suit containing cards numbered 1-7 and an X card. To set up the game, you separate all the X cards, shuffle them together, and place one face-down in the game box. This is the antidote that players are trying to figure out. You then take a certain number of syringe cards, shuffle them in with the remaining X cards, and deal two cards to each player.

Your player count determines how many cards you have in each suit. In a 7-player game, for example, you keep all the cards (1-7) for each of the suits, while in a 5-player game you would only play with the cards 1-5, removing the rest.

Players shuffle the selected cards for the game and deal them out to everyone. You may look at your cards but you may not show them to anyone else. If you have an X card in your hand, you know that it is not the antidote card.

Your goal is to end the game with a card of the same suit as the antidote. On your turn you may do one of three things. The first option is to discard, in which case all players simultaneously discard one card, placing it in front of themselves. If you discard an X card, it is placed facedown; all other cards are played face up. The second option is to trade, and there are two ways to do this. You may trade by telling all players to pass a card to their right or to their left, or you can announce a desire to trade with any player. You and the player may discuss trade terms but you may only trade one card for one card and you must fulfill all trade agreements honestly. If no player agrees to trade with you, you must choose a different action. Your third option on your turn is to play a syringe card. This allows you to steal a card from a player’s hand or one that they have discarded, replacing the taken card with the syringe card.

Once each player only has one card left, the antidote is revealed and the players compare their card to it. If your suit matches the antidote, you win. If you wish to play multiple rounds, you score or deduct points equal to the number on your last card (depending on whether or not it matches the color of the antidote).

Review

Antidote offers an interesting blend of bluffing and social deduction. You pick up clues from watching what other players hand you or what they discard. You want to hold off tipping your own hand too early while balancing that with keeping cards you think you may need.

There is also an interesting press your luck aspect to the game. If you are uncertain about the antidote, you might have to take a gamble on the suit. But should you keep higher numbered cards to potentially earn more points? Or go for lower numbered cards to minimize the potential penalty for guessing wrong?

Setup for the game is a bit onerous; sorting out which cards you’re playing with depending on player count takes awhile. But the theme of the game is a lot of fun and feels fresh.

The game also comes with several alternative cards to play with that alter the rules slightly and allow players to mix things up after they familiarize themselves with the game.

Antidote is a nice fit for people new to gaming as the rules are easy to learn and gameplay isn’t too long if you choose only to play one round. It also has something to offer for more experienced card game fans, as it offers an interesting blend of several mechanics and feels like it offers a unique experience.

Pros: Fun theme, unique blend of mechanics

Cons: Setup takes a while

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