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Ringmaster: Welcome to the Big Top

Come one, come all, to play the card game set in the greatest show on earth! Build a circus, recruit acts, and put on a fabulous show.

Ringmaster: Welcome to the Big Top is a neat little card game where the situation changes rapidly and you always have to keep an eye on your opponents. So how does it play?


The game consists of a deck of thirty-four cards. At the start of the game you shuffle the deck, deal each player three cards, and set the remainder in the center of the table to be the draw pile. The rules are simple. On your turn you draw a card, may then choose to play one card, may use the ability of any star cards that are in front of you, discard down to six cards if necessary, and then it is the next players turn.

When playing a card: star and attraction cards are played in front of yourself, event cards have their ability activated and are then discarded, and sideshow cards can be played in front of any player.

The win condition varies for each player based on the cards they play in front of themselves, and the text on the cards informs you of those win conditions. For instance, the three ring circus card says if you have three in front of you, you win, while the big top cards say if you have five or more attractions in front of you, you win.

Ringmaster: Welcome to the Big Top Components


Ringmaster: Welcome to the Big Top is a speedy card game with fun back-and-forth gameplay, multiple win conditions, and some light strategy, as you balance playing cards to help yourself versus playing cards to set back your opponents.

It has vibrant, bold artwork that is unique and captures a fun theme that's not often used. The components are also high quality, with tarot-sized cards that are pleasant to handle and one of the nicest carrying pouches we’ve seen.

Like in other similarly fast, extremely light, card games such as Love Letter, there is a great deal of luck, with a lot riding on what you draw, but the game is so short and quick that this isn't likely to be an issue if you enjoy the basic mechanics, and even less so if you go best two out of three.

The changing win conditions are a nice touch, and Ringmaster: Welcome to the Big Top is perfect for when you want a quick game with minimal setup and few rules.

Pros: High quality components and art, fast gameplay, changing win conditions, fun back and forth between players

Cons: Heavy dependence on luck of the draw 

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