WBG Score: 8.5
Player Count: 2-5
Published by: Big Potato Games
Designed by: Ed Naujokas
This is a free review copy. See our review policy here.
Big Potato Games make fun. Boxes and boxes of fun. They have not put their name to a dud yet. Everything they do that I have played has made me happy. Thankfully, there is no crushing exception here. Good Face Bad Face is one of those incredibly simple games that when played, you wish you had thought of yourself. I can teach this is a matter of moments, but it brings so much fun to the table every time I play it. Let's do that right now so you can see how simple and fun this is.
Depending on player count, remove a certain amount of cards from the game. In a two player game you should start with nine yellow 'good' faces and five red 'bad' faces. Shuffle these up then remove another two from the game. In a three player game you start with ten good and five bad. There are 14 good and six bad in a four player game and all 18 good faces and seven bad in a five player game. Shuffle the remaining cards and deal them out equally to each player. If you have done the above right, everyone should be left with five cards each. You are now ready to play.
How To Play
Choose a first player, they will now choose one to five cards from their hand to play face down. This is then passed to the player to their right. They can take the top card and add it into a face up row in front of them, or pass the deck unseen to the next player. If they take a yellow good face then great, well done them. They are one step closer to winning. You need to have four good faces face up in front of you to win a game. If they do take a good face, they can then choose to take another card if they wish, if there are any left. Or pass the remaining cards to the next player. It's one big game of chicken. Or bluff. Or make your kids cry. However you want to see it.
If a player takes a red face they must place that in front of them and sadly end their turn. If they already have red faces in their face up row, simply add this to them. If this is their third bad face then they must now pick them all up and add them to their hand, full of shame and obviously the knowledge that the rest of the group now know a vast majority of their hand is made up of red cards. And no one will touch their next stack!
If they had good faces when they added a bad face then all the good faces are returned to your hand to cheers of joy from all other players if they were on three yellows, and the bad face stays as a reminder for your failure! If you later add a good face when you have a bad face you can pick up one bad face and return it to your hand. If the stack comes back to the first player untouched, they must take at least the top card. Here's hoping to started with a yellow! Imagine every other player leaving that alone. And of course, they all get to see this as you flip it over and smugly place it in front of you. People start to form opinions about how other people are playing the game. And this is where the magic happens.
This may sound a little complicated but you will get used to it very quickly, and it is all clearly labelled in this handy dandy player guide. And I promise, it will makes complete sense after you play the game once or twice. The games only take a few minutes so you get there quickly. The best way to learn is to play.
Is It Fun?
Oh my! This game is so much much fun. It is so simple, but also, so incredibly layered. When you pass a stack of cards to the other players you can do so many things with this. Imagine in a four player game. Would you place three bad cards on top of one good hoping each player takes the top card? But what if they don't! How about placing just one bad and three good, hoping one brave player takes the plunge and then scares off the other players leaving the remaining bounty for you. But what if a player sees through your plans and takes all three yellow after seeing another player take the top red knowing that was the end of the bad cards. Opening up a potential clean path for them? Remember, there are only so many cards in a game. You always know a fair few from your own hand and what is face up in front of other players. There is only so many places you can hide in this game.
Could you maybe even just lay five yellow hoping only one player takes one card, leaving you with a game winning stack when it makes it back to you. Although, of course, all of this is very much dependant on what you have in your hand.
The game also comes with a mini expansion, a bonus set of cards that I wont spoil here. Inside the main box is an envelope that encourages you to wait until you have played the game a few times before you open it. Inside is more fun, but I will leave that for you to enjoy when you play. All I will say here is that it is a lovely touch and simply adds more variety to the game.
The only negative with this game is the cards need to be looked after, or maybe even sleeved. They scuff up quite easy and can get bent out of shape with minimal handling. See below. This is after ten games and you can see the scuffing is coming up. In a game where you need to make sure that no card can be identified when face down, this is quite important. I am not overly protective of my games so this is not about being precious. It's about gameplay. I often play with my children (ten and seven) and I have found in this game that I am often warning them a lot about not bending the cards as it will ruin the game. This is a massive shame and frustration for me. I feel the cards could have been made from a better stock so you don't need to worry about this. I hope this is addressed in any subsequent reprints.
I would recommend this game to anyone who enjoys bluffing games of any style. However, this game is so cheap, but also so fun, I think it is worth a punt for most groups. If you want a new family game to play after dinner, this is it. If you want a game you can enjoy with elderly relatives that offers a simple to teach and understand ruleset, this is it. If you want a fun game to enjoy with mates down the pub, this is it! Although don't spill anything on my cards, ok? I would say this game is as close to a 'must-have' as any game. In terms of the cost, weight, size, and learning curve when compared to the amount of fun you will have with it, this is potentially, pound-for-pound, one of the best games I have in my collection.