Name: Pick the Lock
Type: Card Game
Publisher: Portal Dragon
No of Players: 2-4
Price: £8.50 on Kickstarter
(4.0 / 5)
This week I was sent a print and play copy of Pick the Lock, a game by Portal Dragon that is currently live on Kickstarter until 07/12/15. Pick the Lock is a simple and quick game that mixes luck and skill to determine which player is able to acquire the most treasure and therefore win the game.
My copy was just a print and play so I can’t comment as to the production values of the game, however the cards and box have both received an upgrade through unlocked stretch goals as part of the Kickstarter. The art is simple with the Players and Communal cards being different colours for each player and just displaying numbers with some light decoration around the outside. The Treasure cards are clean and bold with strong images of the various treasures, including crowns, gemstones and more.
In the 52 set I got-
- 4 x player decks (4 x 7 cards numbered 3 through 9)
- 1 x communal deck (9 cards number 1 through 9)
- 1 x Treasure deck (12 x treasure cards)
- 3 x Rules Cards
I know things have moved on a little since the print and play was produced and the rules have been trimmed down and refined. All references in this review are to the print and play I was using to just bear in mind that the player and combination decks have different numbers of cards in the final version. In the final Kickstarter set you’ll get-
- 4 x player decks (4 x 5 cards numbered 4 through 8)
- 1 x Combination Deck (8 cards numbered 1 through 8)
- 1 x Treasure Deck (21 cards)
- 7 x rules cards
You don’t need anything else to pay the game, no tokens, no dice, nothing, which I like as many smaller games often require a dice or a few coins or beads as tokens but Pick the Lock is entirely self-contained.
In terms of rules, these are fairly simple. Each player takes a player deck and a number of treasures are placed in the middle of the table, which acts as the vault. The exact number or treasures varies based on the number of players but, in a 3 player game, it’s 5.
Players then take it in turn to try to steal treasure from either the vault or, if they have treasure, another player. Stealing is simple, you pick a treasure and then place one of your cards, numbered 3-9, in front of you and the player to your right choses 3 cards from the combination deck (numbered 1-9), none higher than the card you played. You then guess a number and if guess one of the numbers on the 3 combination cards then you have guess the combination correctly and stolen the treasure and you place the treasure card in front of you and discard your own number card (so you can only use each number once).
If you want to steal from another player the same process is followed except that they only pick one card from the combination deck and the individual treasure abilities may come into play (I’ll talk about those shortly). The game ends when all players have run out of cards in their own decks, which is 7 turns each. At the end of the game the player with the most treasure wins and, in the event of a tie the two players go into sudden death just using the number 3 from their own deck (I assume this will be 4 in the final version).
Treasure cards each have an ability which the thief can use when trying to steal from another player. Some are mandatory and increase the number on the card the thief plays (so you play a 3 but it may count as a 4 for purposes of picking cards from the combination deck). Others benefit the thief by allowing a second try at stealing or restricting the combination cards to just odd or even numbers, narrowing down the potential choices. Treasure cards add an interesting dynamic to the game because they make it a little more tactical and allow you to devise a strategy for what you plan on stealing and with what cards.
Pick the Lock is a cheap game, it’s $13 (£8.50ish) to back and that includes postage to the UK and it’s already funded. It’s almost impossible to get any game for that price, Love Letter, my other go to simple game, is around £6-£8 and so that makes Pick the Lock remarkably good value for money. Not only that but it’s quick to play, I played it with 2 groups of people, teaching the rules both times and the games still only took around 15 minutes, which makes it perfect for a game to pull out while waiting for folk to arrive on games nights.
Pick the Lock might not be to everyone’s tastes, while it has some tactical aspects regarding the different treasure abilities it’s still fundamentally down to luck much of the time and so people who prefer skill based games probably aren’t going to like it. That said, I consider myself a pretty hardcore gamer and I played it with other hardcore gamers and with people who only really dabble and everyone enjoyed playing it. They found it simple, fun and light, which is exactly the kind of game it is and unashamedly so. Personally I also think it’d make a great intro game for children, especially if you don’t use the treasure abilities, as it would help them learn numbers and number values in a fun way and then treasure abilities could be slowly introduced later, as they become more confident with the mechanics.
It’s nice and cheap to back Pick the Lock anywhere in the world and if you want to throw down some more money they have some truly beautiful looking handmade wooden deck boxes at higher pledge levels. I was sent the Print and Play for Pick the Lock for free so I could review it but I’ve backed it with my own money because I think it’s excellent value for money. It’s simple and fun and I like the fact that I’m helping a small company make a game and try to make a living doing something they love.