Here I sit with humble pie, a glad but grumpy reviewer. When I was given Partners to review at last years UK Games Expo, I was reluctant to accept. I wrote it off as another attempt at recreating Frustration or Ludo. The main difference is that it’s team based and uses cards instead of dice.
What is it?
Simply put, Partners is Frustration but with a few important changes. Instead of a simple roll and move, you get a deck of cards with custom moves. Instead of individually racing round, you work in teams of two to get all of your pieces into your respective end zones. You still knock people back to the start if you land on them but the frustrating “roll a 6 to get on the board” has been replaced with heart cards.
Going into Partners we only had two bits of information. One, that the rulebook says it has caused hundreds of divorces, disinheritment, and anger management referrals; two, that it’s incredibly popular in Denmark.
So, it got dropped to the bottom of the review pile and we dreaded the day it would come up. But y’know what? It actually wasn’t all that bad. It was quite enjoyable. We ended up in a rowdy shouting match when our aspirant magician seemingly fumbled the one card we needed to win onto the floor but thankfully we had been dealt another. Laughs were had. Eventually.
The tactical additions of Partners makes the game run much more smoothly and makes being sent back somehow less annoying. My theory is that it feels less targeted if its team vs team than free-for-all which removes the resentment.
Judge ye not, lest ye yeself be judged. Partners is actually good, it’s easy to understand (though we did have to Google the rulebook as the one we got was in Danish) and straightforward. Some of its mechanics might feel a little harsh, like having to skip 4 whole turns if you don’t get any heart cards and have all your pieces still in the start zone. But to take something as loathsome as Ludo and make it an engaging and enjoyable experience, well that deserves a medal.
You can find Partners over at their website: https://www.partnersboardgame.com/