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KA-CHING!

Reviewed by Herb Levy

(Gamewright, 2 players, ages 10 and up, about 15 minutes; $9.95)

 

The game of Nim has been around for a long time despite the fact that there really isn’t much game there. In essence, Nim is a game of “perfect information” where rows of objects are available and players alternate taking (generally) 1, 2 or 3 of those objects until one player has no objects left to remove! But the real challenge of Nim for many game designers is simply this: What can be done to make this game more challenging and worthwhile? We’ve seen Sid Sackson’s variation with Buried Treasure (Fall 1999 GA REPORT) actually a reworking of one of his earlier designs: High Spirits with Calvin and the Colonel, dating back to 1962! This time around, Klaus Palesch and Horst-Rainer Rösner offer their design spin with Ka-Ching!kaching

Ka-Ching! consists of two decks of cards: a 35 card stock deck and 29 money card deck with 2 wild cards thrown in for good measure. In its original European release, the game was known as Combit. Ka-Ching! is the same game with new graphics.

Both card decks are separated. The stock cards come in five different colors – purple, yellow, red, green and blue – with values ranging from 2 through 6. These are shuffled and randomly distributed into five columns of seven cards each. Each player receives $20 in money cards as starting capital. (Money is kept hidden.) Remaining money cards form the bank. Finally, each player is given one Wild Card. In Ka-Ching!, players vie to generate the most money by skillfully choosing and then cashing in stock cards.

On a turn, a player has a choice. He may buy one of the unobstructed (e.g. bottom cards) from any of the columns, paying its face value (2, 3, 4, 5, 6) from his cash OR he may sell TWO cards of the same color to generate income. Face values of the two cards of the same color sold are multiplied so that, for example, selling a red 2 and a red 4 (which would have cost you 6) will reward you with 8 after a sale. This continues until only two columns have any cards left. At that point, EACH player gets one last chance to sell two stock cards for a final burst of cash. And this is where those Wild Cards come in.

Each Wild Card has a value of 2 and may be used in lieu of ANY colored card when selling. So, should you have a red 4 and no other red card in your holdings, a Wild Card will double that value and reward you with another 8 to add to your cash stash. Wild Cards are for one use only so, while a Wild Card may be used at any time, it is to your advantage, if you are able, to save yours for the end when you may be stuck with a solo 6 or a lonely 5, both without a mate and both worthless UNLESS a Wild Card can be used.

The card quality, as you’d expect from Gamewright, is first class, the colors used easy to distinguish and the numbers easily read. The only nit to pick is that the amount of money cards is a little restrictive. Smart playing can lead to a shortage of cards for funds. (You may have to break out that old Monopoly game and borrow a few bucks from the bank to ease the shortage.)

Ka-Ching! is light and fluffy and because of that, serves well as a “warm up” before a night of “serious” gaming or just the right stuff to hit the table when you want to “decompress” from a brain-burner of a game. Even better, it is certainly an ideal way for kids and adults to spend some quality time. – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Herb Levy


 

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