Second Chance is a short, simple game with enough tactics to keep your brain engaged. The game, in my household, has gained the name ‘Draw your own Tetris.’ Like Tetris, its polyomino style (lots of squares) relies on a combination of strategic planning, spatial awareness, and luck of the draw where players compete to fill their 9x9 grid with the shapes drawn at random from the deck.
For when you just don’t have the energy for a full 2-hour, intense boardgame, Second Chance is the perfect solution. Being only 10 – 30 minutes long (or 45 if, like me, you get carried away by making fun designs) it doesn’t need huge amounts of concentration or a long attention span. It works for 1-6 players so you can play with friends and family. Or, just have some quiet time to yourself in the solo version.
Set Up and Play
In the box, you will find a pad of 9x9 grid sheets, 13 starting cards, 40 playing cards and 3 overview cards.
To begin, everyone gets a sheet of the grid paper and a random starting card. The 13 starting cards are the only cards with shapes that cover 8 squares and thus, are the biggest you can expect in the game. You can draw your first shape in any way you like. It just has to cover the centre square (which is helpfully marked with a dot).
After that, you reveal 2 cards from the playing deck each round. Everyone chooses one of the two shapes revealed to draw. After your starting card, you can draw shapes in any which way. It could be mirrored, rotated, adjacent or separate – whatever floats your boat. The only limitations being that it must fit in the grid and not overlap other shapes.
Your aim is to fill the grid as much as possible. Although it would be very satisfying to complete the 9x9 grid, it’s very rare that this happens! The likelihood of drawing the exact shape you want lessens with each round. If you find yourself unable to draw either shape revealed in a round, you get a second chance.
Wow, that’s like the name of the game?!
That’s right, the long awaited ‘Second Chance’. Your second chance allows you to reveal one more card, just for you, and if it fits you continue as normal. But, if your third card doesn’t fit, you can’t draw anymore shapes and must drop out.
If you are the first to drop out, you choose an empty spot to write the number 1 (to signify you’ve finished first) and that is your final grid. When everyone is unable to draw, you count the number of empty spaces and the person with the least wins. In the case of a tie, the player who finished first wins.
Why Should you Play Second Chance?
Second Chance has become quite the comfort game for me as its simple play style and pleasing aesthetics helps me relax and go with the flow of the game.
If you like drawing and colouring, creating patterns and designs, this game is right up your alley! Designed by Uwe Rosenberg, who’s well known for his worker placement games like Agricola and Caverna, we see another game mechanic that he likes to use: Polyomino placement. The basic, square shapes create a smooth image and helps create an aesthetically pleasing game.
Another benefit of this game is that is doesn’t require many pieces and therefore it makes it small, compact, and easy to fit into bags. This would be great for train journeys, to take on holiday, and is easy to store. Plus, its small size makes it affordable coming in at less than £15!
Second Chance also appeals to both the artistic and strategic minds. You can choose to spend your time considering where is the most effective placement of your piece or spend time colouring in and making your own little piece of art – or both!
Finally, its short play time means that is doesn’t take up much energy and concentration but can be replayed as many times as you want if you did want a longer game, just play again!
Are There any Downfalls?
Unfortunately, like any game, it does have some downfalls.
Despite being entirely about drawing, the game doesn’t contain any pencils or drawing implements. Although this means you can use any exciting colouring pencils you have at home, it limits the artistic element if you don’t own your own colouring pencils. Playing with normal pencils is just as fun, however, if your memory is as bad as mine, finding pencils to play with will probably take as long as the game.
The other main flaw is there can be an awful lot of waiting. I love spending time making sure my grid is looking colourful and bright, but my friends are less interested in that aspect. This means there can be quite the gap between rounds as I spend time colouring, but they are ready to play on.
Lastly, it does become repetitive, especially if you don’t enjoy the colouring and design aspect of it. Because of the simplicity they have kept to make it accessible and easy to learn, there aren’t any variants or expansions.
Yes. It’s good.
Second Chance has become one of my go-to games to play after work.
The simplistic design and play are appealing and enjoyable. It’s easy to learn, easy to teach and easy to play which makes it accessible to younger players. Yet, its elements of strategy make it engaging for those who are used to more complex games.
If you like geometric, colourful games, then definitely check it out!
If you like Second Chance, I recommend checking out Barënpark, which we have christened ‘Bear Tetris’ which fits under the polyomino placement style of games. You should also check out Azul as it similarly has a colourful aesthetic and is easy to pick up.