2007, 2-6 Players (Best with 4) – 30 min

No matter where you have grown up, we all have some fond memory of watching a parade. The procession of people marching to the beat of one or many drummers, costumed to match the occasion, accompanied by props to really drive the point home of what is being celebrated. You really felt a sense of pride and even at the youngest age, I wanted to be right there marching with the lucky few.

Oh those were the days…

Now imagine there was a game where the parade were the marchers were made up of people and creatures from one authors fever dream and boy, are the marchers easily disgruntled.

That’s how I remember it at least.

Parade is a fantastic card game with simple but agonizing decisions at every turn. The beauty of its design is only rivaled by the beauty of artwork itself. Everyone starts with five cards with five additional cards starting out the parade on the table, all out of a deck of six colored “suits” numbers 0 through 10. Each turn you are going to play a card to the end of the line and draw a card. When you play a card, based on the number and color of the card you played, you will then peel off cards from the parade and putting them into your marchers points purgatory in front of you, forever to be sweated over like a ticking time bomb. How does that work? I should move to another paragraph for this one…

When you place a card at the end of the line, take the number on that card you just played and count out the number of cards at the beginning of the line. These are protected and wish to stay on and want to continue marching.

Life is good

Everyone after that? They are ominously in “removal mode.” All those cards marked for death… I mean removal… are then checked for whether it is either the same color OR a number equal to or less than the number you just played. Confused? We were for the first several times we played and I’ll go ahead and say the manual is not worded very well. The image they use as an example doesn’t help either.

Here’s the kicker though; the object is to score the least amount of points. This goes against everything you have learned about gaming to date. Even worse if your style of game is the point salad game. This point salad is wilted and you want to return it but you can’t. You can however, eat so much that it becomes palpable. That’s because if you own a majority of any one suit at the end of the game, that ten-point time bomb card you were staring down is now a nearly harmless one-point party popper card.

Each person will play and draw until either the deck is finished or one player believes in diversity in parading and owns at least one card in each color. This makes each turn an agonizing exercise in risk-aversion. Then even if the choices your scheming grandma leave you with have you tied in knots, there is still one last way to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. You should be left with four cards after the game ends and you will take two of those cards to add to your pile and discard the rest. Do you hold onto your low value cards to keep your points low or do you keep two cards of a certain color in the hopes of grabbing a majority from your rival? That five-point purple cub your opponent thought they had is now a twenty-point grizzly bear.

Suck it grandma!

So all that makes for a thoughtful experience without being a brain burner. There are some understandable complaints which one could levy on this game. Each turn can really just devolve into a math equation as you go card by card in your hand to see which one gives you the most (least?) benefit. The decisions and strategy involved can definitely be deeper than that when you think about the game in a space greater than just your turn. The manual could be written better, especially to explain the core and most esoteric aspect of the game. Also, you can basically throw away the score pad unless you have some really math-challenged players. Finally, just like a real parade, you are going to need a long runway to be able to fit all the cards. Other than that, you can’t go wrong with a game that looks great on your shelf and easily be broken out for a deceptively deep experience in a thirty minute card game.

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