FTW Staff Picks - Halli Galli

For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new. 

Halli Galli

Genre: Dexterity 

Designer: Haim Shafir

Player Size: 2 to 6 Players

Game Length: 15 minutes

For fans of: Anomia, Ghost Blitz, Jungle Speed

*Ding!* The ring of a bell is a common sound heard at FTW on weekends. And it's not a customer service bell, it's the bell you find inside of both Halli Galli and Speed Cups. Like other dexterity games that test your reaction speed, these games require players to hit a bell in the center of the table. But similar to Ghost Blitz, the game is designed to deceive you. 

In Halli Galli, players are dealt out an equal amount of cards to form their own individual decks. There are 4 different types of fruits on these cards, and a range of 1 to 5 of fruits on each. A bell is setup in the center of the table. In a clockwise order, players take turns flipping the top card of their deck. If they have a previously played card already in-front of them, they cover it up with the newly drawn card. At any point during this process, if the exact total number of one kind of fruit is 5, players race to ring the bell. The first player to ring the bell wins all the cards that had been played to that point, and adds them to their deck. If the bell was rung incorrectly, that player is forced to give each player one card from their deck. If you run out of cards, you are eliminated. If there are two players remaining, the next bell hit will end the game. The player with the most cards in their deck is the winner!

When you play Anomia, there is a revelatory moment when the first cascading duel occurs. In Halli Galli, that same situation occurs when a card being covered up results in a 5-of-a-kind. It keeps the game tense and everyone on their toes. There are always plenty of overeager players who will ring at the sight of anything resembling a 5. But like in Ghost Blitz, the penalties add up and will usually take you out of the game.  

The thing I love about games like Ghost Blitz, Anomia, Halli Galli and Speed Cups is they require 100% engagement. There's no way to half-heartedly play these games. Your focus has to be locked into the game at all times. And it's a brief, but important, reminder of how fun things can be when everyone is engaged - instead of dabbling on their phones. Life can be elating, when we allow it. 

Earl OliverosComment