The straw that broke the camel’s back isn’t just an expression now that this card game from AEG lets you load up your own dromedary. It’s possible to win by avoiding heavy loads or using that magical straw, so what will you do?
In The Box
The picture of simplicity, Straw is a pack of 65 cards that contains the entire game. All cards are beautifully illustrated with objects that can be stacked on top of the camel, a special card that shows the humped desert dweller’s weight limit of 50. You can imagine a girl or boy camel, depending on who’s sitting with you around the game table. A small booklet with instructions comes packed in, and gives you all the detail needed to understand how to get started. Some of our favorite card illustrations include Monkey, Aladdin’s Lamp, and Ancient Tablets. The Monkey card especially will be a source of amusement for younger players. You could rig up a fairly convincing deck for playing this game with poker cards, but the fact that each card’s art reinforces its number and the theme of stacking objects on the camel is a big part of what makes Straw special.
How It Plays
The average kindergarten-age child is counting to 100 these days, so a game about counting to 50 is primed for a pretty broad audience. The premise of Straw is that you and up to six players are attempting to load a camel with objects ranging from weightless flying carpets to bricks. Each object has a weight value shown by its number. Special cards like Reverse and Copy change the flow of play or let you use a previous move to your advantage. Card weights range from predictably heavy bricks to objects with negative numbers.
The all-powerful Straw card referred to in the game’s title is capable of instantly ending a round and blocking others from scoring, making it the most coveted find in the deck. Players without the Straw must find ways to dance close to 50 without breaking the camel’s back, because doing so without the Straw means losing a chance to score in that round. The counting and threshold mechanic reminded us a bit of Zeus on the Loose, but Straw is a bit more accessible by young gamers in the sense that more cards are counted by face value rather than special rules. Cards like Aladdin’s Lamp that let players choose their own number are just cool, and reinforce the game’s fantasy theme. You’ll be up and playing Straw in minutes but there are always plenty of twists and turns thanks to random cards and player choices.
Portable, quick, and smart–Straw shows that basic math combined with a strong theme and rich illustration can make for a great experience.
The heaviest stuff helps you score, but can also be used to force your opponents to break the camel’s back.