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A Fool's Fortune and PiÑata offer card-game fun

A Fool's Fortune and Piñata are two new card games from Rio Grande Games that are both recommended for ages 13 and up and play in about 45 minutes.

A Fool's Fortune

In A Fool's Fortune, two to three players compete to complete card sets before their opponents. A variation on the traditional card game rummy, A Fool's Fortune takes players to a mythic fantasy realm of magic and mirth. Game play is divided into three acts, in which cards become more powerful and allow for more options.

Though cards become more powerful over the acts, the goal in each act is essentially the same. Players win each act by closing sets and recruiting characters. The game's 77 cards are divided into realms (color) and resources (symbols). When players can align all five of each realm or symbol, the set is closed. Players must also recruit a set number of characters each act, which costs more cards to recruit.

A Fool's Fortune is a relatively simple card game that nevertheless manages to be fun and engaging. Players must expertly handle their cards and make tough decisions about how to play which card and where to play it. Since each player is limited to the number of cards in his hand, this can lead to some really intense play. A card used to pay for a character may later be useful for closing a set.

The character powers are where this game really shines, however. Character abilities allow players to gain certain advantages or play dirty tricks on their opponents. Fans of rummy will enjoy this unique and inventive twist, and newcomers will delight at the game play, fun theme and great artwork.


Piñata sees two players competing to gain the most candies, which allow them to claim medals. Four numbered mats with either an up or a down arrow are laid out between the players. Colored wooden candy markers are then placed on the mats in the amount listed. After drawing eight cards, each player takes turns laying his cards on his side of the mat.

The cards have point values and the number of cards played is limited before each mat to the number on it. A mat is completed when each side has the number of cards equal to the mat number before it. Then the cards on each side are added together. If the mat has a down arrow, a player will want his cards to have the lowest combined number; if it has an up arrow, the player will want his side to have the highest combined number. Once a side is full a player may place cards on the other side, essentially playing a dirty trick on the opponent.

Once a mat is completed the winner claims the candies and flips the mat over to its other side, changing its arrow direction. If a player has enough colored candies, they may be traded in for colored medal cards. The first player to gain three medal cards wins the game.

Piñata is a very simple yet enjoyable game that keeps players on their toes as they determine the best way to play cards. While a player is too often at the mercy of the cards he is dealt, he will nevertheless be forced to make important decisions about which mat he should place his cards on, which ones he should wait for, and which ones he must give up. Players confident in their hands will no doubt place cards on their opponent's side of the mat at every opportunity, ensuring their win.

As stated above, Piñata is a game that many gamers may find too simple for its length. Though the game is recommended for ages 13 and up, one gets the sense it is really intended for a younger audience. With its fun, simple mechanics and quirky artwork, this game would be more than acceptable for players as young as 8, who will no doubt appreciate it more than older players.

Cody K. Carlson holds a master's degree in history from the University of Utah and currently teaches at SLCC. Cody has also appeared on many local stages including Hale Center Theater and Off Broadway Theater. Email: