author Carey Grayson
publisher Sunriver Games
released 2006
players 2-4
playing time 20 minutes

24/7 - The Game

reviewed by Moritz Eggert

Jack Bauer grinned as he gripped the man who called himself Carey Grayson in his deadly armlock. "So you hid the code in a game about me, have you? What is this evil plan of yours, and why do you want to release the deadly Elvis virus in a wedding chapel in Reno and kill millions of innocent Elvis impersonators?".

"No, all is a misunderstanding" screamed Grayson, "it's just a game, just a game, you see...".

Jack Bauer pulled the steely-cold gun from his holster and pressed it to the cheek of the trembling man.

"I know you're an evil terrorist in fact. Calling anything "24" the game is a clear violation of copyright laws. This is why I might torture you to get information about your world domination plans. In fact I might start with it this very moment."

"No, the name is 24-7, you know like 24 hours in a day, 7 days a week. It's just a title! You see, my wife, she's not a geek gamer, but she enjoys gaming. I just wanted to create a game that I can play with her, and that can be enjoyed by gamers and non-gamers alike, that is simple to explain, and doesn't take hours to..."

"Stop! Why don't you shut-up and show me what the heck you're talking about!".

"It's in the bag" said Carey.

Bauer pulled out the hefty box with a clock tower. Hell, it didn't even have a picture of him on the cover. That was clearly a case of bad merchandising.

He noted that the box had a nice weight to it. There was a clinking noise inside. When he opened it, carefully of course, because he feared a deadly trap might explode into his face, Bauer quizzically looked at the contents.

"What, no cheap cardboard counters? No armies with SS-Runes, no map of the world? What is this, an un-American game? What are these white domino like tiles for?"

"These are the white number tiles that are the basis of the game. You see we took great care to produce them so that they would look and feel especially nice. We even included little wooden holding boards like in Scrabble that you can place them in, one for each of the up to 4 players!".

"And why are they numbered from 1-10? And why does the board have a 7x7 grid? Is this some secret code or something?"

"There are 40 tiles in total, one for each number. At the beginning of the game one tile is randomly selected and placed in the middle, also 3 more tiles are removed, so that one never really is sure if a certain tile will appear."

"You talk like a commie traitor, why would anybody want to hide that information?"

"You see, it makes the game more exciting. It is a simple but effective rule that works great. We added it very late in the design process."

"What does one do with the number tiles?"

"Each player places one when it's his or her turn. You either place them orthogonally or diagonally to already placed tiles. And you try to score by creating certain combos."

"Huh, I knew it - a combo to take over the world!"

"Not exactly - it's all in good fun. Gamers are peaceful people, you know? The most coveted combo is to get a diagonal or orthogonal row of numbers that adds up to exactly 24."

"I knew it! Your secret plan!"

"...but there are also other combinations." continued Grayson, unperturbed.

"7 for example. Or a run of three, or 4, or 5. Or a set of 3 or 4. It's a little like in Poker or that other great game by Sunriver Games, "Havoc - The Hundred Year's War". A wonderful game, you should try that out some time..."

"Silent! What is this pad for? To jot down the locations of our nuclear power plants?"

"No, it is to keep track of each player's score. The different combos that I mentioned give points, we call them minutes, from 20 to 60, like 60 minutes per hour."

"Bah, Humbug! Everybody knows that an hour has only 42 minutes in which something happens, the rest is commercials and toilet breaks, although never for me strangely enough....What are these hourglass symbols for?"

"They double the score, a little like in Scrabble. When you place a scoring tile there you simply get twice the score of what you scored. Even better, when you manage to create a 24 and a 7 scoring in one go you get a 60 point special bonus. That is a true killer move."

"Hah, now I know where you lied - with all these tiles it is easily possible to go beyond 24 as a sum, you were trying to deceive me!"

"This is where the beautiful red gem stones come in. When a 24 scoring took place these stones are placed at both ends of the scoring row, therefore blocking the spaces for future tile play. This can even be done tactically to hinder other players scoring in advance!"

Bauer fell silent. He knew this guy took him for an idiot. He removed the safety of his gun with a loud click. "Okay, and now to your plan of world domination. Talk. Just talk. I count to 10. 1....2.....3......4....."

Grayson suddenly smiled unexpectedly.

Rules: bilingual (German and English), can be explained in 2 minutes
Game material: impeccably good
Game length: 20 minutes, and you want to play again immediately

"Not World Domination. We just wanted to create a great game for everybody. Light, but not dumb. Short, but involving. Mathematical, but so that even a small kid will get it and nobody feels excluded. A good closer game for a gaming evening. And I think we managed to do just that. We have achieved our goal. To make something that it is worthwhile spending one's time with.

Speaking of which... I don't think you achieved that goal, my friend. Begone!"

And with this Grayson snipped his fingers and Jack Bauer disappeared in thin air, like a bad dream.

And then I woke up.

"24-7 The Game" is a great light game of number tile scoring, a bit reminiscent of but much better than Zatre (which plays much slower). Sunriver Games has again managed to produce a winner!

Very recommended - for all kinds of gaming groups.

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