App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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Gold and donkeys. The two always seem to go together. At least, they do in most spaghetti westerns. And just like those hyper-realistic depictions of life in the Old West (sarcasm), having a burro around can actually be quite beneficial.
Michael Schacht’s Gold! is certainly all about acquiring money, but it’s less about quantity and more about matching groups. Each card not only has a number assigned to it, but also a color. Snapping up all the highest value cards isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but those cards mean squat unless they’re part of a trio of matching colors. In other words three 8’s is worthless but a 4, 6, and 8 all in blue could mean the difference between a loss or a win. Each round consists of a group of cards pulled from the deck while the player and their AI opponent take turns drawing cards for themselves (the lowest number must be taken above all others) or exchanging their donkeys (can be swapped with any card on the table) for what they want. Any time three matching colors are acquired they’re moved off to the side and added to the player/AI score.
There’s a surprising amount of strategy to Gold once the game gets going. Players can see their opponent’s hand in full; giving them the opportunity to take a card in order to prevent them from completing a group. It’s also possible, through strategic use of mules, to effectively force an opponent to take something they may not want. When things really start to ramp up it can drown out the rest of the world until the last card is dealt.
The problem with Gold is a problem that’s typical of many Skotos Tech games. Which is to say that it’s singleplayer only. I know it must make me sound like a broken record, but this is a game that practically screams for multiplayer. Games are fast and fairly furious, and I wouldn’t imagine it would be too difficult to find people willing to spend ten minutes or so shuffling pretend coinage around. It’s perfect for multiplayer, but there’s no multiplayer to be found.
Of course, while I could dwell on the missed potentials that would be doing Gold a disservice. Even as a solo experience with nothing but an adjustable AI it’s still plenty entertaining and liable to eat up any amount of wait time. Plus it’s got donkeys, and if animated films about ogres have taught me anything it’s that donkeys are awesome.