FTW Staff Picks - No Thanks!
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.
Designer: Thorsten Gimmler
Player Size: 3 to 7 Players
Game Length: 20 minutes
For fans of: 6 Nimmt!, Parade, For Sale
No Thanks! is a reverse, auction-style, card game. What does that mean? Instead of bidding to earn valuable things, you're bidding to pass on undesirable cards. Since the introduction of No Thanks! many other games have implemented this core mechanic into their ruleset. While I can't say if it was the first, I can definitely suggest that No Thanks! popularized the idea.
In No Thanks! players hope to accumulate the lowest sum of numbered cards, by passing on high cards with chips. Before the game begins a card is taken out of the deck at random. The cards in the game range from 3 to 35, with one copy of each number. Each round the top card of the deck is flipped over and players take turns either taking it or passing. To pass, players will place one of their limited chips onto the card. If a player decides to take the card, they take all the chips that have accumulated atop it. When the last card is taken, players will total the sum of their collected cards. Any numbers that follow in sequence (ex. 10-11-12) will only count for the lowest number. Each chip will count as -1 towards the final score. The player with the lowest sum total is declared the winner!
The first few times I played this game, I was put off by how random and luck-based I thought it was. But first impressions are often misjudgments and I was definitely in the wrong here. Sure there's a bit of luck to the card draws, but building sequences and milking everyone for their chips are important parts of the meta here. Players can temporarily team up to agree to force opponents to pay to keep passing a really high card. I've grown to appreciate No Thanks!
There are so many card games that are simply numbers and a few tokens, but that shouldn't dissuade you from trying them out. The size of the box isn't always an indicator of how fun a game can be. No Thanks! among others is a game that feels big, while remaining small. It's equally as competitive as most big box games. Size really isn't everything.