Review – Velonimo
Animals, start your pedaling!
|Publisher||25th Century Games|
Hop on your bicycles and race up the mountain with the other animals in this trick-taking game for the whole family. Is this one worth a ride, or would you be better off steering clear?
The goal of Velinomo is to have the most points at the end of the game. Players will get points by beating other players in 5 separate heats (also hands). The number of points players receive is the sum of the heat number and how many players they beat. So if, in a 3-player game, you play all your cards before everyone else during the 3rd heat, you’ll get 2 x 3 = 6 points.
To begin, each player will receive 11 cards (each heat will begin so). The deck is composed of the numbers 1-7 in 7 different colors. If applicable, the current leader will receive the leader of the pack jersey (with its “striking peas and carrots pattern,” as the colorful rulebook says). The player currently in last place plays first. To play, you’ll place any number of cards from your hand onto the pile, with the goal of getting rid of your hand before the other players.
In order to play cards to the pile, the cards you play have to be greater than the last cards played by an opponent. The plays get 10 points per card, plus the points from the lowest-numbered card. The cards you play also have to be the same number or color. So if you played a blue 2 and a blue 4, you would be playing 22 points because 2 cards at 10 each and the lowest number was 2.
2Velonimo is a simple, fun, trick-taking card game, and as such, you must play the hand you are dealt. Sometimes they will be good hands you can win with, sometimes they will be bad hands you have to survive with, but what I like about Velonimo is that it plays over a series of 5 rounds, so the good and bad hands have a better chance of balancing out. There’s certainly strategy in when to play and when to pass, what combinations you should use, and how to make sure the current pack leader doesn’t win again! Another fun tweak designer Bruno Cathala made to the classic play-higher-cards-than-your-opponent formula is the leader of the pack card, which essentially functions like a wild card that can be added to any combination of cards (except for the speedy hares, who must be played by themselves and whose values range from 25-50).
The components are surprisingly excellent. The box has a really cool design that looks like a miniature version of Fantasy Flight Games’ Descent: Legends of the Dark, which feels like overkill for a simple card game like Velonimo, but that doesn’t change the fact that it looks great. The art on the cards is hilarious as animals of all kinds ride bicycles of all sorts up a mountain. The rulebook is easy to read and fun (I mentioned the leader of the pack jersey description).
Velonimo pleases with innovative and familiar gameplay and a surprisingly well-executed theme. Fans of trick-taking games will find a lot to like here, and it’s simple (and well-themed) enough to be fun for the whole family. While it doesn’t revolutionize the genre, it does execute it excellently and adds a fun theme that actually feels like it’s a part of the game.
25th Century Games kindly provided a review copy.
The Bottom Line
Velonimo pleases with its familiar yet still-fun gameplay and its surprisingly well-executed theme.