Hey folks, I’m back again with another game review. Today, I’m seeking the help of other players. See, I accidentally left my gates opened and all my tame critters escaped. It’s dusk now, and we need to use fireflies to lure them back. Careful, I’m only looking for the tame ones. There are wild ones that lurk around, but those are too savage to keep. Today, we’re playing Smile by Z-Man games. It’s a quick card game for 3-5 players that plays in 20 to 30 minutes. Let’s take a look.
This is a small box filler game. It comes with the rules, 50 creature cards, 35 yellow glass beads, and 5 blue glass beads. The creature cards have values ranging from -5 to 6. Some cards also have red, yellow, white, or blue in the top left corner. The glass beads represent fireflies used to lure in these creatures or tear drops when you run out of fireflies. Now that we know what’s in the box, let’s look at game play.
This game is played over 10 rounds. The number of cards varies based on how may players are playing. The goal of this game it to collect the highest points total at the end of the game. Each player starts with 6 fireflies. Conceal these in your hand so other players don’t know what you have each round. This adds a bluffing part to the game as other players may try and count bids for the best card. Next, place the blue tear drops and remaining fireflies next to the creature deck. After the deck is shuffled, then we’re ready to start the game.
The round is split between searching for the creatures and luring the creatures in. In the search phase, you simply flip over a number of cards equal to players from the deck. Then, you arrange these cards in numerical order starting with the lowest value going to highest. That’s the end of the search phase.
Now for the lure phase. You cannot claim a card that doesn’t have a firefly on it. Starting with the first player, you must either capture and pick up the first creature or place a firefly on the first creature and pass to the next player. If there’s a tie for the lowest creature card, then you choose what creature to lure, or place a firefly on top. Once a player captures a creature, they collect any fireflies on top and are done for the round. This helps you replenish your fireflies during the game. Try not to run out of fireflies. When it’s the last player in the round, they automatically captures the last critter without paying a firefly. They then start the next round.
There are a couple of other rules of the game that effect scoring. The first, if you ever collect two creatures that have the same color in the corner, immediately remove both creatures from the game. You no longer count these cards as your total. This adds a set collection aspect to the game. I say this because there’s times when you want your -5 card to not be counted in your total. If it’s a blue card, then you’ll want to try and collect a blue card to cancel it out. Then there’s the opposite. If you see an opponent with a 5 point card that’s yellow, you can try to force them to collect a same color card either by keep using your fireflies to skip capturing it or pick up a different creature before they can. There’s a little bit of Take That incorporated into this aspect of the game because of that. The other rule that effects scoring is when you run out of fireflies to lure with. Remember at set up, those blue tear drops? Well, don’t cry too much if you’re out of fireflies. Simply grab a blue tear drop and a firefly from next to the deck. You’re back in the game for luring! What about the tear drop? Well, you lose a point at the end of the game for every tear drop you have.
Once ten rounds are done, and all the creatures are corralled back up, you count your points. Starting with your cards, add them up. I like doing all my positives first and then my negatives. There’s no rules for what order you count them, so have at it. Next, you count your fire flies and tear drops. Each tear drop is a negative point, but you gain one point for every five fire flies. So 5 gets you a point, 10 gets you two points, but 9 only nets you one. The player with the highest points total is the champion critter getter.
What do I think of Smile? I want to start with the cards and art work. I’m a sucker for pretty looking games and good components. This game has them both. Each card has a nice critter on it and the cards have a nice linen finish to them. The glass beads are the type you find in beta fish bowls. Nothing wrong with that, they are nice a sturdy. I like the feel and weight of them in your hand while playing. It adds a nice functional feeling to the game. As for the game play, I was able to play this game with my 5 year old daughter. Sure, she needed some coaching on what to do, but she understood that the higher points cards were better than the low cards. I’ll keep playing this one with her as long as she lets me. It’s a fun little game that many people have compared to No Thanks. Now, I haven’t played No Thanks so I can’t comment on that. If you have played No Thanks and Smile, let me know how they compare. Overall, I really like this game and think it’s a nice filler. It’s easy to teach, fun to play, and has nice components and art. If you’re looking for a new card game with slight bluffing, take that, and set collection than I highly recommend this one.