Today Firestone reviews Linko!, a hand-management and set-collection card game from the dynamic duo of Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling. This was published as Abluxxen in Germany, but it's Linko here in the states--published by Ravensburger. Let's take a look!
Kramer/Kiesling have created some of the best games ever: Torres, Java, Maharaja. So of COURSE I wanted to try a new game from them! Linko is for 2 to 5 players, ages 10 and up, and plays in about 15 minutes. It comes with 110 lynx-covered cards: eight sets of cards numbered 1-13, five Joker cards, and one Linko card.
You're trying to get rid of the cards in your hand.
Take out the Linko card, shuffle the rest, and deal each player 13 cards. Place the rest as a draw pile, and turn over the top six cards face-up to the right of the draw pile. The Linko card is used to keep track of whose turn it is, but we found that it was fiddly to keep passing it.
On a player's turn he or she plays a single card, or a group of cards with the same number. If the player has cards in front of him or her, the new cards go on top of the old ones. Then you check other peoples' stacks and see if you can grab cards. If the cards played by the current player match the number of cards on the top of another player's stack, and the number on the cards is higher, you have to "snatch" the cards.
So the active player decides if he wants the snatched cards or not.
- If he does want the cards, he picks them up, and the player who was taken from draws that many cards from the draw pile or draw row (and the row is only replenished once they're done drawing).
- If he doesn't want the cards, the player who was taken from either takes those snatched cards back into his hand, or discards them and draws the same number of cards.
Now the current player continues checking the stacks of other players, clockwise, to possibly snatch their cards, too. (A player can only be robbed once per turn, though.) Then his turn ends.
The Joker can be played as part of a meld, or by itself (as the highest value on the table).
As soon as someone has no cards left in hand, the game is over. (So no snatching once the last card is gone.) Cards in your stack are positive points, and cards left in hand are negative points. The person who went out first isn't necessarily the winner.
When my game group first played Linko, most of us thought it was a good little filler. I still think that. But the more I've played it, the more it's seemed to open up to me. I'm seeing more strategy and tricks. Like "bluffing" people into taking my card so I can grab that great one from the draw row. I'm not suggesting it's deep, but it's not shallow, either.
It says ages 10 and up, and that's probably correct. My 7-year-old can play, but he has a hard time playing this well.
Linko is newbie-friendly too. I've played it with nongamers, and the rules are easy enough to grasp, and the gameplay is fast enough, that they almost always ask to play again.
The game suggests a variant where each person gets to deal once, and you keep track of scores round to round--with the winner being the person with the highest score after all rounds. I definitely suggest this if you have the time.
The Final Verdict
Linko is a simple, but clever, card game that reveals layers as you play it more, and works for families, gamers, and nongamers. This fast, portable game will be coming to game night for quite a while.
Thanks for reading! Have you played Linko? What did you think? What's your favorite Kramer/Kiesling game? Let us know in the comments!