Disclaimer: This preview is from a reviewer’s copy of the game that was provided by North Star Games to Open Seat Gaming, but opinions are our own based on several plays of the game in several contexts.
Game: Most Wanted
Publisher: North Star Games
Designer: Dominic Crapuchettes, Ken Gruhl, Quentin Weir
Artists: Andy Barry, Ben Goldman, Naomi Stanton-Gullak
Main Game Mechanisms: Hand Management, Press Your Luck, Bluffing
Number of Players: 2-8
Game Time: 15 –35 minutes
Looking for a rootin’ tootin’ howlin’ good time? Look no further than Most Wanted, coming out from North Star Games at Gen Con!
Most Wanted is a fast-paced card game that takes some of the best things about poker and distills it into a wonderful gaming experience that makes you feel like you are in a saloon in the Old West. The deck of cards isn’t your normal poker deck – instead, it is a modified pinochle deck (eight of each card from six to Ace in each of the four suits).
Like standard poker, everyone is dealt five cards. Everyone picks their character and starts to work their way up the Most Wanted poster game board. The way that you climb the board is through the six actions available to you:
- Honest Labor – Turn in any number of cards that have matching colors/ suits to the discard pile and gain $2 for each card
- Church – Discard any number of cards and redraw your hand up to seven cards.
- Duel – Challenge any other player with your best one or two card hand.
Robberies (which anyone can join in on).
- Pony Express – Use your best two cards to win the robbery and move up the board two (later three) places. Any other players may join.
- Stagecoach – Use your best three cards to best everyone else, moving up the board three (later four) spaces.
- Train – Play your four best cards and if you win, you move up four (later five) spots.
If you lose any robbery, you either have to pay the appropriate amount of bail or move backward on the board based on what your bail is. Once you have gone through the deck once, you flip the Pony Express over and the number of spots you move when you win a Pony Express robbery increases. Next time through, the Stagecoach flips, and then the Train turns over on the third time through.
Unlike poker, you are only paying attention to Four of a Kind, Three of a Kind, Two Pairs, one pair, and high card. Unless you happen to have a hand full of sixes versus a hand full of Aces. This scenario is called the “Double-Crosser,” and the sixes (which have six-shooter art) win.
The first person to get to the top of the Wanted Poster track (13 points) is the Most Wanted, and they’ve won the game!
Marti: Most Wanted caught my attention the first time we tried it with Bruce of North Star Games at Origins, and it has kept my attention ever since. There is not a single instance where I haven’t wanted to bring this game out with friends and family, and I will keep playing the ever living daylights out of this game.
First, if you know me, you know I love King of Tokyo. I love the intensity and the tactical nature of the game, constantly beating up on your friends and getting really excited when it comes down to a single dice roll. This game takes that idea and brings it to poker – there are definitely moments where you’ll cheer, or go “aw man!” or where you’ll get excited even for the people who ended up beating you.
I also love poker. I used to play Hold ‘Em a lot in college, during late nights where I worked at the front desk in my dorm and I needed something entertaining to help me stay awake until 3 AM. So, a bunch of my friends and I would play Hold ‘Em for hours on end. This game brings me back 12 years to those college days and gets me excited about the bluffing and whatnot that is involved in the game of poker.
The gameplay is solid. It’s simple enough to teach anyone – even those unfamiliar with Poker – and engaging enough that you’re going to want to pay attention to every single turn. One of my biggest problems with many large group games is that everyone isn’t necessarily involved – but, with the addition of the robberies that anyone can join in on, you’re paying attention to every single turn that your opponents are taking.
If 2018 ended right now, I would call Most Wanted my best game of 2018, period. The game is simple, yet innovative; intense, yet fun; and smart, yet simple. The word “elegant” is spot on for this game, and I’d be hard-pressed to find a game that presses so many buttons and that is just as universally enjoyed by anyone and everyone that has tried it with us.
Scott: Most Wanted was billed to us as doing for poker what King of Tokyo did for Yahtzee, and honestly that’s the best description you can have. It takes a fairly simple mechanic, adds a well done theme to it, and makes a game that is thoroughly enjoyable to play with a bit of take that but in a lighthearted way.
You can try to set up your hand, but other people might run heists that you either want in on or want to try and block, so sometimes you don’t have as much setup time as you want, and it’s actually really thinky. There are also [redacted] that allow for a lot of replayability right out of the box as well. I really enjoy this game and look forward to trying it with larger groups!
Sarah: This game is a barrel of fun. Lots of laughs and tense moments when you reveal your hand. It is an excellent party game. We taught this game to my teenage cousins, who had very minimal knowledge of poker, and within a couple of rounds, they had the gameplay down.
The deck of cards is great. They used a quality card stock and finish. The art and detail on each of the cards is marvelous, detailed, humorous, and inclusive. The art on the card backs is reminiscent of the Dude’s rug from the movie The Big Lebowski. The overall aesthetics of Most Wanted are fabulous and all the cartoon-like illustrations are top notch. If you want a game that feels like King of Tokyo that doesn’t have player elimination, Most Wanted is definitely for you!
Try, Buy, Deny: If you’re someone that enjoys poker, or you like King of Tokyo but aren’t super fond of that player elimination, or if you want a game that plays amazingly from 2 to 8 players, then you’ve found a game that is right for you. You want to be sure that you preorder it, because this game is going to be hot!
Additional Information: Most Wanted is now available for pre-order at an MSRP of $34.99. You can pre-order it here. It will be for sale at Gen-Con and will be available at FLGS’s as of October 1st of this year.
The Meeples of OSG