Game Overview: In GemPacked Cards, your objective is to mix and match color combinations of Pip tokens which will allow you to purchase like colored combination Gemino Squares which score you victory points. You can then upgrade two color combination Gemino Squares to purchase the more valuable Gemino Diamonds. If you are lucky enough to obtain certain combinations of Pips, Germino Squares, and Germino Diamonds, they can be exchanged for the even more valuable Rocket Cards. Knowing how to combine colors to create new color is essential in working your way towards having the most victory points.
Box Contents: The box includes 100 tokens, 110 cards, and the instruction manual. The box does a great job in holding the tokens with two separate spots for them. There are two place holders for the cards as well. However, the height for the card holders seems just a little short as the last few cards don't fit in there and when you open up the box the next time, those top cards are now loose within the box.
Clarity of Rules: The instruction manual is a 10 pages long and full color throughout, which is important since the game is based upon obtaining colors and combining colors. It does a well enough job in explaining the rules. The only area of confusion we had, even with reading the manual, is how the wild Pip tokens and wild Cards can be exchanged out.
Game Play: Initially you need to set up the table by determining how many rocket cards are to be placed onto the table. These are the highest scoring cards which can only be obtained by different combinations of Pip tokens, Germino Squares, and Germino Diamonds. You also place down Sun cards, Red Dwarf Cards, and Nova Cards. Finally you lay face up a certain number of the game cards. The number of cards for each of these is dependent upon the number of players. As you move around the table, the players draw two Pip tokens. If they can't purchase anything, they are allowed to draw a 3rd Pip token as their final action. If they have the required number of tokens they can purchase a Germino Square card. Keep in mind that these are all based upon the color of the Germino Squares. For example, if a Green Germino Square card was in play that you wanted to purchase with your Pip Tokens then you would need to turn in either two green Pip Tokens or one green Pip Token along with a single blue and yellow Pip Token. When a Germino Square is purchased, it is replaced with a new card. As play continues, and you have obtained multiple Germino Square cards, you can turn those in to upgrade to a Germino Diamond card. The same color combinations come into play here. For example, if you wished to get the Purple Germino Diamond card then you would need to turn in two previously purchased purple Germino Square cards or one purple Germino Square card along with a single red and blue Germino Square card. There are also wild Pips that can be used to purchase wild cards. During your turn you also have the ability to sell the different Germino Squares for the Pip tokens that are used to create that color. Action cards come into play as you draw from the pile that may force you to discard cards that are in play or may allow each player to draw a different number of Pip tokens. Play continues until all Pip tokens have been taken, then the remaining players get one final turn. At the conclusion of this final round, players add up their victory points to determine who the winner is.
Replay Ability: This is a quick and easy game to play/learn. Because of the randomness of the Pip Tokens that you draw and the cards that are played, there is a lot of replay ability there.
Appropriate Audience: The recommended 6+ age is perfect for this game and the art and game play will be popular with all kids.
What We Liked/Didn't Like: Despite multiple rocket cards being in play each game, after multiple plays we have only had these taken twice. At times it seems the game finishes a little too quickly when the Pip tokens run out. This is especially true after multiple action cards are drawn that require each player to take 1, 2, or 3 additional Pip tokens. In a four player game the instructions tell you to use 30 tokens. We have found that moving this up to the five player rule of all 50 tokens plays better in preventing the game from ending too quickly. At times, players sit on too many of the wild Pip tokens, with nothing to do since they can only be used to purchase the wild squares when they come up. If someone (Dad) struggles with combining color combinations to create new colors, they may leave victory points on the table even though there is a nicely presented page in the manual and player assistance cards. Overall, it is a game that I am sure that will be picked multiple times going forward to be played. It caters to both the little kids and the big kids and will provide plenty of family fun.
Add-ons/Other Releases: n/a