Skip to main content

Board Game Review: Cabaret

Know Chance Games is a publisher with just two games in their catalog as of this writing – an atrocious card game called Stealing Mona Lisa that I covered in my review here and Cabaret!, a trick taking card game that turns trick taking card games upside down with the twist that you may not follow suit.

20181117_225126Cabaret! is a lovely game. I thought I might do better at it then I do when playing other trick taking card games since it behaves contrary to what experienced trick takers are used to, but I still couldn’t pull off a win. There is something about the logical thought patterns required to succeed at these types of games that runs counter to my thought patterns. Still, I enjoyed the game play. It’s relaxing and a bit thinky all at once. My 13 year old daughter proved to be the best at the game over the course of our plays with her, her father, and I. She really enjoyed it also and picked up strategy quickly.

The artwork is well illustrated with a vintage feel and emphasizes the storyline and theme of the game wherein players are competing talent agents looking to book performers for upcoming shows. The cards represent performers and each suit represents a different type of performer. At the start of the game, each agent (i.e. player) selects a suit of performers (i.e. cards). Each round, all agents contribute a performer to the current show (i.e.trick). Each show must have unique performers (suits) to keep the audience’s interest and therefore you cannot lay down more than one type of performer per show (hence the cannot follow suit rule).



The agent who provided the most valuable performer (i.e. the highest valued card) to the show wins the right to control the show (take the trick). For scoring the trick, the agent counts the star power of *his* performer (so, only his suit can score points for him in the trick). White stars give 1 point each, black stars (only present on the 2 highest numbered cards, the 11, and the 12) score a penalty point (-1) each. Finally, there are mime cards distributed to all players at the start of the game to be used when you have no other valid cards to play. The mime cards can be scored by the winning agent just as if they were one of his suits.

After three full hands are played, the agent with the most points wins the game.

The components for Cabaret! consist entirely of the playing cards, and should hold up to repeated use, although frequent players may wish to sleeve the cards.

Win Condition: have the highest point total after three hands are played

Inputs: [star value of each card in a player’s suit they were able to win in tricks aggregated over the number of tricks won] + [quantity of mime cards won in each trick x 2 (star value of mime cards) aggregated over the number of tricks won]

Strategy Tip: Sluff off your negative value cards to other agents and strive to win shows that contain high value cards of your suit (to give you max points) and high value cards of other suits (to deprive your opponents of max points). Easier said than done!

Cabaret! is a clever card game that plays well with both adults and teens. I especially appreciate the strong theming worked into the game, a difficult feat for trick taking card games. The prohibition against following suit will take experienced trick takers by surprise and perhaps throw them off their game, giving newer players a bit of an advantage (I suspect this was in part why my daughter was able to beat my husband who is a veteran at trick taking games). Cabaret! would make a lovely stocking stuffer, if you’re lucky enough to find a copy available for sale.


Publisher: Know Chance Games
Players: 2-6 (We played with 3)
Actual Playing Time (vs the guideline on the box): About 30 minutes
Game type: card game



Jenni’s rating scale:
OUI: I would play this game again; this game is ok. I probably would not buy this game myself but I would play it with those who own it and if someone gave it to me I would keep it.
OUI OUI: I would play this game again; this game is good. I would buy this game.
NON: I would not play this game again. I would return this game or give it away if it was given to me.


Popular posts from this blog

Board Game Review: Brass Birmingham

Here’s a story of a lovely lady (spoiler: it’s me) and her pride and how it has led to the discovery of the single greatest board game I have ever played. It’s probably also a good primer for other reviewers on increasing your reach.At GenCon this year, I was perusing the wares of the various booths and my eyes caught a glimpse of two beautiful game boxes. Each had crisp metallic lettering with an old world feel and artwork that radiated European class. I made my way to the booth and waited patiently to speak to to the team manning it as there were many buyers lined up to purchase the games. I didn’t know anything about the games (Brass Birmingham and Brass Lancashire), or the publisher – Roxley Game Laboratory – but I knew I wanted to review one or both of the games. Almost every board game love story I star in in can be summed up this way: I am seduced by the artwork or theme and then I stay for the right mechanics. When the lead rep spoke with me, he gently rejected my request. He …

Board Game Review: Brass Lancashire

A few months ago, I fell in love with Brass Birmingham (you can read that review HERE). I fell hard. It was an all time top 10 best games ever kind of love and so when Roxley Game Laboratory offered to send me Brass Lancashire to play and share my thoughts, I was a bit hesitant.  Is there even a chance I could enjoy it as much as Birmingham? Lancashire was the original game designed by Martin Wallace, and while it’s been updated for the most recent release, I was concerned it might prove to be an older, tired version that couldn’t compete with Birmingham.

My concerns were unfounded. Brass Lancashire is fantastic. Playing Lancashire after playing Birmingham is a bit like dating someone and then dating their sibling. Sure, there’s a resemblance, but the kissing feels different.
The artwork for Brass Lancashire is beautiful, radiating a classic style evocative of the theme (industrial era production). The artists have shown great attention to detail such as the raised gold lettering on …

Board Game Review: Machi Koro Legacy

Machi Koro  was one of the first games my husband Chris and I played together. It was released in 2012 and when we started gaming together in 2013, it was still a popular game on reviewer blogs and videos as we sought guidance in what to play and what to buy. Once Machi Koro  was in our collection, I spent every game trying my best to outthink Chris and acquire the best combination of establishment types to ensure victory. As we were enticed by other new games coming out and were drawn deeper into heavy Euros, we left Machi Koro on the shelf more frequently, with an occasional wistful comment about how we should play again.At GenCon earlier this year, Machi Koro Legacy  was the talk of the town. Designed by Rob Daviau, JR Honeycutt, and Masao Suganuma (Masao is the original designer of Machi Koro), it promised to breathe new life into Machi Koro through a campaign style series of ten games, revealing new aspects of gameplay in each session at the table. We love legacy games, so we wer…