What?! Another light card game review from Andy? What a shocker, right? What can I say, I’ve got a type. Thin, cheap, and easy to understand…just how I like my card games. I’ve reviewed Tucano, No Thanks, 2Can, PUSH, and L.L.A.M.A., and my love for this type of game is as yet undiminished. I promise I’m also playing longer and heavier games!
So, what is it about this newest entry, GAP from Arcane Wonders, that has my attention? I was hoping you’d ask.
As mentioned, GAP is a light card game, part card shedding, part set collection. Its most notable feature is the bright foil-covered numbers and symbols on the box exterior and the cards. It looks like a Mardis Gras float exploded in an aluminum foil factory. But don’t let that fool you…GAP isn’t just the new shiny, there’s some strategy inside that box.
In GAP you’re trying to earn the most points by collecting suits of cards. At the end of each round, you earn 1 point for each card in the suit with the most cards. But you subtract the number of cards in the suit with the fewest cards. So 5 yellow cards and 1 blue card will net you 4 points. Follow so far?
But if you have 2 or more suits tied for the most, then you combine them. However, that rule also applies to the suits with the fewest number of cards. If you have 3 cards each in yellow, red, and green suits, and 1 card in the pink and blue suits, then your total score would be 9 minus 2, or 7 points.
But how do you get cards? Don’t blink or you’ll miss it. On your turn, you select a card from your hand and play it in front of you.
If the number on the card is an exact match for one or more of the cards in the middle, you take all of them.
If there are no exact matches, but there are cards 1 higher or 1 lower than your card you must take exactly 1 of each. If there’s only 1 higher or 1 lower, then you take just the one.
There are no exact matches, and there are no cards within 1 number of your card, then you put your played card into the middle, which means that it becomes eligible for another player to take.
Stack any collected cards in front of you by suit, then replenish the face-up draw pile back to 4 (if you are able).
And that’s the game. There’s some fiddling about with the number of cards, based on player count, but given that there are only 50 total cards in the deck (0-9 in each of 5 colors), there’s not much you can take away. At the beginning of the game, you will have selected a target score (suggestions include 15 or 30) based on how long you want to play. The first player to reach that score is the winner.
GAP Final Thoughts
Oh yeah, baby! GAP is firmly in my wheelhouse. The rules are easy to teach and it plays quickly. It also has surprising depth without being “thinky”—just a bit of mental gymnastics in order to maximize your score. The cleverer among you have already started mapping out in your head how to get the most points. “I just need 3 cards from all 5 suits, and I’ll get 15 points in a single turn”. But that relies on getting the right cards dealt to you, as well as having the right cards dealt to the center.
In an early game of GAP, one player observed that “you’re getting nearly every one of the cards you were dealt.” That means you need to look out to the center draw pile and hope you get the right combination of colors and numbers to flesh out your score.
GAP is a game like UNO, in which you don’t really have to pay attention to the table until it gets to your turn. This means that it’s perfect for a relaxing end to the evening or as a starter to a longer game night. Add to the fact that it plays up to 6 people and it’s a game I’d recommend to anyone. This is definitely a GAP you want to mind.