A fast-moving card game that uses simple War mechanics and blind trading to simulate a hockey season, for up to six players. Originally published in 1975, this game holds up well in a new printing and an iOS version to boot.
|Slapshot||Columbia Games||Card Game|
In The Box
Simple does it with minimal packaging that houses a deck of 54 cards divided between the three types of players you’ll have on your team. Blue Forwards are the most plentiful, followed by green Defensemen, and red Goalies. The number of available cards relates to the fact that your hand will always consist of three blue cards, two green and one red.
Along with the cards you’ll find a folding board that shows the eight games between the preseason and playoffs. Each player chooses one of six wooden markers included to mark progress through a full season, and of course you’ll find instructions packed in. The players’ names are hilarious. At one point we had a hand consisting of Slash Gordon, Snow Balls, Napoleon Bonapuck, Antoni Zamboni, Ice Capone, and King Netune. Younger players who don’t get all the references will still enjoy the cool illustration style of every card.
How It Plays
The game’s board is used for tracking progress, based on hockey matches won against other players. You may want to have some counters or a score sheet handy to keep track of these outcomes, since matches can be tied and go into Sudden Death. A match in Slapshot looks a lot like a game of War, but with some key differences. Players can arrange their hand of six cards any way they like before a match, based on their memory of an opponent’s cards and a guess as to the order in which they’ll likely be played. The winner of a match moves his marker up one space toward the playoffs, where the top two players compete for the best of seven matches.
Facing off in these matches is simple enough: Flip over cards in your hand one at a time, as your opponent does the same. The card with the higher number (out of a possible 10) scores a goal, under most circumstances. Goalies can generally block shots, and two cards with the same number don’t result in a goal. A handful of players are marked as “bruisers” and can put an opponent’s card out of circulation. This comes in handy when you have a player flaunting those high numbered cards in the 8-10 range.
Between matches, cards can be drafted from the game’s draw pile, or traded with other players. Trades are a gamble because they involve blindly grabbing another player’s card, then returning a card of the same color. Especially when you have a great goalie or defensemen, trades can actually be risky and hurt you. The key to winning in Slapshot is building a strong team and skillfully arranging cards before matches. We liked the advanced rules included in the manual, limiting drafts and trades, and setting up conditions where a large group of players are forced to play each person around the table before any repeats. The latter underscores the fact that Slapshot plays at its best with large groups, where matches have more variety and trades are less predictable.
We used poker chips for scoring matches, but any kind of token will do, as a nice addition to the game. The low scoring and numbering system on the cards makes Slapshot really accessible for younger players. If they can count to 10, they can join the game!
With just two players, Slapshot felt a bit like Rock-Paper-Scissors, since I knew which cards my opponent had and just needed to guess how they’d be used. I got really attached to some of my cards and hated losing them in trades!