Hemlock Card Game Preview
Hemlock is a card game that has players seeking control over an unfolding conspiracy. As kings your very safety is a concern as rumors fill the walls of your life being threatened. Convince high figures to stand by your side before and take down anyone who stands in your way!
Hemlock is a card drafting and hand management card game for 2- 6 players. To setup the game shuffle and deal each player 6 cards. From the deck flip over one card as the trump card and deal out 2 cards face down in the center of the table. Every round consists of scoring more points than your opponents through high valued cards or card abilities. On your turn you will be playing one of your cards to attempt to get the most points by playing values higher than your opponents as well as matching a drawn trump card or the target card (which I will get to). Trump cards double the value of your card (does not stack).
There are two special characters in game that rotate through the players which are the conspirator and the target. The conspirator starts each round and has the ability to check the two face down cards (which act as end game scoring–i’ll get to this as well) instead of a normal action. The targets king also acts as a trump suit which can give players the advantage of scoring more points during their round. The winner of the round takes the two center face cards and distributes them. When a specific set of suits are collected, game ends and scores are taken.
What I think
Hemlock definitely incorporates a good balance of strategy and hand management. Each round gives players access to different approaches to winning a specific round. Assassins can end a round abruptly while the oracle allows conspirators to exchange their cards with the two face down cards in the center. Placing face down cards is the highlight of the round as it can be the game changer. I do think a lot of the face down placement is a little too much luck of the draw (unless your the conspirator).
I like how the artwork resembles the stained glass work you’d see in the 13th century. It showcases the importance of each king and the stature of each important role in the game.
All in all, this is a noteworthy card game for players looking for high strategy without needing to spend an hour or so playing. The quick turn over of card values give the game a nonlinear feeling. I do think some of the rounds feel weird with the randomness of the dealt center face down cards. The randomness for players who are not the conspirator can make a turn feel meaningless. But there are enough abilities to makeup for that.