Buzzworthiness: Similo

Today, I’m talking about a small little game called

image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Similo is a game by Martino Chiacchiera, Hjalmar Hach, and Pierluca Zizzi. It was published in 2019 by Horrible Guild, and there are currently five different versions – Fables, History, Myths, Animals, and Wild Animals. This review is focused on Fables because that’s what I have, but the History and Myths versions play the same, only with different cards. The game is officially for 2-8 players, but you could conceivably play with as many as you want.

To play, you first choose one player to be the cluegiver. That person shuffles the deck and draws a single card. This is the target card they are trying to get everyone else to guess. The cluegiver draws eleven more cards, then shuffles them together with the target. These twelve are laid out in a 3×4 grid of face up cards.

image by BGG user van00uber

The cluegiver draws a hand of five cards from those that are left. From these, the cluegiver chooses one card to be a clue – either the target card is like or unlike the card chosen. The other players must discuss and choose a single card from the array of 12 to eliminate from contention. So if I were to play the Genie and say that the target card is UNLIKE the Genie, you might want to eliminate Aladdin because he’s from the same story. Or the Sea Witch, because she’s a fellow magic user. Or the Wicked Witch because they have a similar skin complexion. You have to determine for yourselves what the cluegiver means because they are not allowed to give any other hints.

If the first elimination is successful, the cluegiver draws back up to five cards and plays a new clue. In the second round, the guessers must eliminate two cards. If you make it to the third round, the guessers must eliminate three cards. In the fourth round, four cards are eliminated. In the fifth round, there will only be two cards left. If you can guess which one is the target from a final clue, you win. If you ever eliminate the target card in any round, you lose.

image by BGG user MrOoko

Similo is a very compact game that I was interested in for a number of reasons. I really like the art on the cards, which is not necessarily the Disney image of the characters – Pinocchio, for example, is depicted as more of a wooden boy, and the Genie is definitely not the Robin Williams version. Again, my experience is only with Fables, but my looks at other sets confirms that the art style is consistent. It’s very portable, just a deck of cards that you can carry around.

Similo is not really a thematic game, as evidence by the fact that so many versions can exist with no rules changes (I don’t think). But each set has its own flair. I thought Fables would be a good one for our family because my daughter is familiar with all the stories, and my wife is a children’s librarian.

The game is very simple to play. It’s a lot like Mysterium in some ways, with a cluegiver trying to lead people to the right card by selecting the right clues. At the same time, it’s reminiscent of something like Guess Who as you’re trying to narrow down the attributes of different characters to find the right ones. And, even though you’re only playing with twelve cards in the field and a max of five clues given, there’s a lot of ways to overthink things, as in something like Codenames. Is the cluegiver distinguishing between male and female? Or is the color palette what they’re looking for? Possibly the alignment of the characters? Or being from the same story? Maybe it’s eye color! Who knows?

Playing the game as a group means that players have to be able to communicate well. The cluegiver has a lonely job as they try to determine the best card to get people to the right guess. But group think is dangerous, and if a possibility occurs to one player, they can convince the entire table to think that way. It can be really tough.

At the same time, I think this is a pretty perfect game for the Zoom era we’re living in right now. Because the cluegiver is the only one who has anything to do with the cards, they can just point the camera at the array and show everyone the clues. And if different people have their own sets, you can take turns being cluegiver. It’s a quick game – 10-15 minutes is the listed time on BGG, and that’s pretty accurate.

IS IT BUZZWORTHY? While Similo isn’t terribly deep or strategic, I think it’s a fantastic family-weight cooperative game that can engage everyone. My five-year-old was able to grasp the rules and even win with me in two-player games a couple of times. It’s fast, it’s portable enough to pull out in a restaurant, and it’s a fun challenge. I definitely recommend it.

That’s it for today. Stay safe out there, and thanks for reading!

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