Disclaimer: This preview is from a reviewer’s copy of the game that was provided by Button Shy to Open Seat Gaming, but opinions are our own based on several plays of the game.
Description: Handsome is an 18-card word game where the cards only have consonants and suits. Based on player count, cards are dealt to players and the table (and players sometimes discard to the table) such that each player ends up with 2 private cards and the table has 5 public cards that all players can use.
Adding whatever vowels are needed (y does not count as a vowel in this game, sorry y), players secretly make a word using their private cards and the public ones trying to make the longest word they can, but also keeping the suits in mind. Each consonant/card can only be used once per word.
Once everyone has a word, the words are revealed and points are scored as follows (with all ties being friendly and all tied players scoring):
- Longest word scores 1 point
- Most cards used in a word from each of the 3 suits scores 1 point (so 3 points available across the 3 suits)
- Ex: Marti’s word used 3 cards with the bow tie suit and Sarah’s used only 2 cards so Marti would score 1 point for the bow tie suit. Sarah’s word used 2 necklace suit cards but Marti’s didn’t use any so Sarah would score the necklace suit point. They both used 1 bolo card so they each score 1 point for the friendly tie.
Once a player reaches 9 points, the game ends and the player with the most points wins!
Review: As you’ve likely noticed, the OSG team really enjoys Button Shy games. Small, portable games that offer small footprints and great gameplay are at the core of the collection of games that Sarah and I have. All three of us really enjoy word games, and were really interested to see what TC, who has some really unique game designs, did with 18 cards.
The vintage art is really charming, and it’s reminiscent of the earlier parts of the 20th century. I never thought that a game with letters would have such nice art, but Bryan Fischer nailed it. The colors are pleasant, the typefaces are elegant, and it’s really easy to glance at a card and know both its suit and letter in an instant.
The gameplay is a ton of fun. It takes the “here make a word from these letters” game and kicks it up a notch with the unique set collection aspect. It’s not only about making the biggest or more complex word – it’s about strategically using the letters in each suit so that you can get a majority in at least one.
Every single point counts in this game. If you have a perfect round, you can get 4 points (so, as a result, the fewest rounds you can have in a game is 3). Friendly ties were the perfect way to deal with scoring, in my opinion. It rewards everyone for being smart with their words, without making the score feel irrelevant.
Also, Scott had a lovely idea about it – we’ll probably be throwing our copy of Handsome into our Just One box. You can use the two sided board really well – the front can be your score, the back is where you write your word, and then you only need to use 1 piece of paper to keep track of any words you’ve used that round.
In short, we really dig Handsome. This clever game is a star in the Button Shy lineup – its innovative combination of set collection and word-building is unique and fun. It will definitely have a home among our games that we bring to larger-group game nights.
Kickstarter info: Button Shy has brought Handsome to Kickstarter right now! The Print and Play is $3, the physical game + expansion content is $10 + $3 shipping, or you can get it with the solo game, Banned Books, for $20 + $4 shipping.
Marti – The Fluffy Meeple