Small box card games are awesome. Whether you are playing Sea Salt & Paper, Scout, Tucano or St Patrick there are hundreds of hours of fun squeezed into these titchy boxes. Velonimo is from legendary designer Bruno Cathala so I went into this card shedding game with high hopes, especially after loving Sea Salt & Paper so much. So does this animal bike racing game get first place and the famed special jersey or does it crash a few feet just before the finish line in a tangled mess of bike and animal? Read on to find out.
I Feel The Need, The Need For Maths
Velonimo is played over 5 rounds in which players are trying to play all of their cards (known as shedding) as quickly as possible. Each round points are awarded according to how many players you beat and which round you are in. So, in a 4 player game if you ‘shed’ all of your cards first in the first round you would score 1 point for each of the other players still playing (3 points). The points increase each round so that by the fifth (last) round each player you beat is worth 5 points.
To ‘shed’ your cards you must be able to beat the current amount of points on the table. If you play a single card it is just worth its value. If you play 2 or more of the same number or same colour of cards it is worth 10 points per card plus the lowest value in the set you played. There are also special Hare cards which are of a very high value but can only be played on their own. The number 1 cards (leaders) are special cards which allow you to steal from other players, for each leader card played you take a card from an opponent and then give back to them the same amount of cards from your hand (including the cards you just stole if they are no good for your plans).
When you play your cards you call your number and if the other players cannot (or chose not to) beat your number you move the played cards to the discard area and start again by playing more cards from your hand. The trick of the game is to know when to go big and play your best combination and when to hold back and build towards a grand finale (in the hope someone else doesn’t beat you to it).
Once all but 1 player has ‘shed’ their cards points are calculated and the player with the current highest points is given the special Peas & Carrots Jersey. This is a special card that adds 10 points to any played card / combination of cards (except the hare cards). It cannot be stolen by a player with leaders cards.
The player with the lowest points becomes the start player for the next round and you continue like this until the conclusion of the fifth round when the player with the most points wins.
The Scout Problem
If Velonimo existed in a world without Scout it would be an easy recommendation, but we do live in a world with Scout and it is such a good game that plays very similarly to Velonimo but is more exciting with higher player interaction and more twists and turns than you can shake a stick at.
Velonimo does start to catch up with Scout when you play at 2 players only as additional rules are added, the number 2 cards now make you pick up new cards and when your opponent can’t beat your play you can add a new card to your hand or give it to your opponent. It is a shame further rules were not added as the game started to feel like it was heading in the right direction.
The artwork is colourful and fun with great animal drawings on every card. The rules are very easy to follow and you can teach the game in just a few minutes. The game length is only 15 minutes and this doesn’t increase by much when you hit the higher player counts.
More seasoned gamers may want to look elsewhere but if you are in the market for a very light card game to play with younger or less experienced gamers then Velonimo might be a good match for you.