A light game that you can play between games and it won’t spoil your appetite.
Elevenses is a game for 2 to 4 guests. It takes up to 30 minutes, but often less. It is a fine blend of strategy, risk and a dash of luck.
As you might expect from any game I’ve chosen, it is beautifully illustrated with willowy 1920s ladies, scrumptious biscuits and a dashing servant.
Each round the players vie for sugar cubes. To earn sugar cubes you must have the highest value of cards (indicated by teaspoons in the top right of the card) on display in your spread when someone declares ‘Elevenses!’.
The Clever Bits
Low value cards feature an action which benefits you when you place it face up in your spread. One of my favourites is Sugar – when you play this, it enables you to look at all your face down cards at any time while it remains face up in your spread.
However, high value cards carry an element of risk. On playing Cakes, for instance, you must show an opponent your hand and they can choose a card to take from you. This means high value cards must be played tactically. The variety of actions you can take is an excellent feature of the game.
Instead of playing a card face up, you can swap cards from your kitchen to your spread face down in arrange actions (up to 2 per turn). This allows you to save cards till later in the game. As long as you can remember where you placed them. Obviously, I mean what kind of fool would forget where they had hidden their Elevenses card? *ahem*
The Elevenses card can only be played once you have 4 cards face up in your spread and it can not be swapped or exchanged. An important part of the game is watching your opponents closely and deducing when they have Elevenses in their hand and when they plan to play it.
A starting server card allows you to keep track of who dealt and played first each round. Essential if, like me you have enough on remembering whose go it is, never mind remembering who dealt!
Before you say it, I only forget whose go it is BECAUSE I’m concentrating. I’m not just instagramming pretty pictures or choosing which biscuit I would eat. Mmmmm…. bourbons…. anyway…
I also like the fact it comes with a card that summarises each card’s action and shows a plan of your spread. (Are you noticing a theme here?)
Me explaining in a suitably posh voice!
Feeling confident? Invite Prue Devine over- she has exacting standards when it comes to morning tea.
Once you have mastered the basic game (even I – with my slender grip on reality/ memory – have managed this) you can play with the expansion pack. It comes with the game so you don’t need to shell out any extra shillings.
The expansion comprises 6 characters, each worth two spoons. To earn the spoons you must ensure your spread contains their specified cards which will entice your character to stay to tea.
Miss Carrington promises to entertain your guests with town gossip as long as you are able to furnish her with sandwiches (crustless, naturally) milk, cups and saucers before someone serves Elevenses.
The expansion adds a good layer of complexity to the game. As well as making sure you keep an eye on other people’s spoons, you also need to track which cards are visible in their spread and consider what they may have in their kitchen. This lends the tea card extra power as when you play it, you can flip an opponent’s card face down.
A final touch which I really appreciated was the use of ‘she’ in the rule book and on the cards. OK so it would be perfect if all rule book writers used the neutral ‘they’ or the more grammatically accurate s/he. But they don’t. And, of course, retro games which I have a large collection of all assume players are male. How could women possibly have time to game when they are doing vital household chores. It was so refreshing to open a rule book where the writer had considered me: a woman, a gamer, an equal.
Completely absolutely finally
I couldn’t resist pimping up my Elevenses, so if you play with Cards or Die you’ll find Elevenses looks like this… tea on the terrace? Charming.