Six Generations (Six Generations Publishing 2004 – Ted Soloview) has an interesting premise – replacing the traditional four suit deck with suits that are based on democracy, rather than monarchy. Instead of a few cards ruling over the rest (saith the advertisements), there is a much more democratic structure. The deck has seventy-two cards, half male and the other half female – each from a different generation, numbered from “6” (of which there are thirty-six) all the way down to the two “1” cards at the bottom of the family tree.
The cards have some outstanding artwork on them, showing people from different cultures (especially the highest in the family tree – the ones who came to America from many countries). Each card has a different name (which helps any background story, I guess), and the drawing style is very clean on a white background. You can also watch the progression throughout the ages, with the final two children looking like they were born in the nineties. The deck comes in a very small box, which barely holds the cards and small rules.
Now there are actually several rule sets for the game. The rules that come with the game itself are actually sparse and make for a fairly boring game. However, there are at least six other games available on the publishers website (www.sixgenerations.com). Most of these are rather bland games (poker with this deck, as revolutionary as it is – simply isn’t as good), but one game actually is fairly intriguing – The Heirs.
In this two-player game, players only use less than half of the deck, without using any “6” cards. The remaining thirty-two are shuffled and placed in a four by eight grid – all face down. One player controls the black suit (the men), and the other the red (the women). Some story about finding the heirs to an inheritance is included in the rules, but it has nothing to do with what is essentially an abstract game. One player goes first, and then play alternates between the two players.
On a player’s turn, they may do one of three things. First, they may turn up any face down card on the table. Secondly, they may move a card of their suit on the table, if it meets certain restrictions.
- There must be another card in the same row or column, with no other cards in between.
- This card must be of a higher or equal value (in this game, the “1” cards are the most powerful).
The moving card then takes the place of the other card, removing it from the game.
Players can also make a third move, which allows them to reveal a card and move it automatically – if it is their suit and can make a legal capture. The game continues until one player cannot make a move, at which point they lose.
This seems like a fairly simple game, which is true, because it is – but I found it to be a refreshing little filler. At first glance, the “1” cards are all powerful, and a player who has theirs revealed early seems to have a great advantage. However, a clever player can maneuver the cards so that their opponent’s higher cards have no legal moves to make. There is still a great deal of luck involved in the game, of course; but a better player will win more often than not. I really enjoy that the game is short and simple, and easy to teach and play. It has elements of the classic game Stratego, without all of the “perfect” setups that accompany that strategy game.
Does The Heirs rules set make it worth owning Six Generations? I think that it just might be. Six Generations’ cards are neat, could possibly be educational, and certainly are a novelty item in the world based on suits. The Heirs is a rules set that takes this interesting deck and makes a decent, short game out of it.
Many people are enthralled that Six Generations is a “breakthrough” and a revolution in card game design. I’m a bit more skeptical – I’d like to see some more solid games, rather than redesigns of classic card games. However, the Heirs works well; and if more games like that come down the pike, perhaps Six Generations could see some more popularity.