Thanks to Grand Gamers Guild for providing a review copy of this game.
Do you ever feel like you have déja vu? Anyway, here’s
The Groundhog Gambit is the sixth game in the Holiday Hijinks series from designer Jonathan Chaffer and publisher Grand Gamers Guild. The Holiday Hijinks games are all 18-card escape room style games themed after different holidays. This one, obviously, is Groundhog Day based, and joins The Kringle Caper, The Independence Incident, The Pumpkin Problem, The Cupid Crisis, and The Birthday Burglary.
If you’re new to the Holiday Hijinks series, each game is played out on 18 cards. They’re numbered on the back, and you’re not supposed to look at the fronts until prompted. The game is run by a web-based app (found at holidayhijinks.com). You hit start, then you draw the cards you’re told. In addition to giving you a place to enter your answers, you also get a game history where you can see everything you’ve done to that point, some story, and some extra information you may need to solve the puzzles in the game. You just make your way through the puzzles until you’ve finished the game, then check your score to see how you did (with a best possible score of five groundhogs).
As always, it’s important that I not spoil anything about the experience, so I’ll be talking in some broad, general terms from here on out. The first thing to say is that The Groundhog Gambit is easily the longest game in the series – the box says 2 hours. I finished in an hour and a half personally, but I was probably a little quick on the hint button a couple of times. There is a point in the middle of the game where the app tells you that you have completed Part I, and can take a break, which is nice.
Cards all have numbers on the back for reference as you’re drawing, and they’re not consecutive. This lends its to the non-linear nature of this game.
The game is also a 3/3 difficulty level, the third in the series to have that level (the others are The Independence Incident and The Cupid Crisis). I did find a lot of the puzzles pretty easy, with a few head scratchers that took me a while. There were two puzzles in particular (and without giving anything away, I’ll just say they were related) that I could not figure out AT ALL. I ended up having to instruct the app to tell me the answers for both, and despite looking at all hints, I still don’t know the logic behind how those answers were found.
The Groundhog Gambit uses a mechanism introduced in The Birthday Burglary, where there are numbers on the card that pull up clues and additional tasks on the map. This is much like a point-and-click adventure style game, or a digital escape room. This is helpful in expanding the game a bit beyond its eighteen cards, and makes it possible to use cards for different things.
Having played all six HH games now, I feel like The Groundhog Gambit may be the most clever in terms of how it is laid out. Puzzles evolve as you go, and while it may seem really difficult to get two hours of content from eighteen cards, this game succeeds quite well.
IS IT BUZZWORTHY? It’s hard to talk about this one without feeling like I’m spoiling things. Nevertheless, The Groundhog Gambit is a great addition to the Holiday Hikinks lineup. It’s definitely a challenge, but it’s very clever and fun. To get it, plus any other HH game, head over to the GGG Store.
Now, according to the website, there are more adventures on the way in this Holiday Hijinx series. So, time to speculate on what titles we could be seeing in the future. Maybe the New Year’s Nuisance? The Easter Enigma? The Mother Mystery? The Father Fiasco? The Labor Day Larceny? The Turkey Tussle? The Hannukah Hangup? The Talk Like A Pirate Day Arrrrrson? (I know, that last one probably isn’t alliterative enough)
Whatever does come, all the games are a lot of fun, and I recommend them. Thanks again to Grand Gamers Guild for the review copy, and thanks to you for reading!