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– by Fox Troilo

 

Gorus Maximus by Inside Up Games
Price:
~$20
Players:
1-8
Playtime:
20-45 minutes
Perfect for:
Groups that enjoy strategic trick-taking card games

Gorus Maximus is a card game whereby players earn favor by acquiring points through trick-taking.  The number of suits (or schools), varies by the number of players, as does which values are played with. For example, in a 1 to 3-person game, each player gets 10 cards (using the 0, then 4 through 12) and three schools are used. In an 8-player game, all five schools are used with all the cards in each suit (0 through 16). It is important to note that like a standard deck of cards, there is only one of each number/suit combination (i.e. only one red 8, one blue 0, etc.).

To begin Gorus Maximus, the deck is shuffled and cards are dealt equally to players. The first player plays a card, which sets the initiating school (i.e. the card led), and the preferred school or the trump suit. One card is played by each player, where a card from initiating school/color must be played if possible, with one important exception—a player can challenge by playing a card from another school if its value matches the value of the card immediately preceding it. This instantly changes the preferred school (trump suit) and it remains this way until another challenge occurs. After all, cards are played and won, players see how many points they’ve accumulated, and the person with the most points wins crowd favor. When an individual acquires three crowd favor, they win.

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What works in Gorus Maximus is the engaging gameplay and the components. To be successful, players must be thoughtful and vigilant, deciding carefully when to take risks to win tricks, especially since cards have both positive and negative values. Furthermore, the “0” cards are worth 5 points to the person who collects it, but only if its color matches the preferred school at the very end of the round.  The interplay is fast and often funny as rounds go by quickly and it’s incredibly amusing to see who gets stuck with accidentally winning cards that have negative values.

If you are planning to invest in a copy of Gorus Maximus, absolutely go for the premium edition which has some very notable upgrades. Most importantly are the cards which have a resistant resin coating, making them perfect to play at a restaurant, bar, or even the beach. The premium edition also comes with: a nice to-go box to make portability even easier; a metal sword to keep track of the preferred school; and heavy chips that indicate crowd favor. The last two of these perks aren’t all that necessary, but they are certainly nice.

For people and players that are skittish about violent imagery, Gorus Maximus may not be for you. The artwork is objectively gorgeous, but the cards do display cartoonish gory scenes of gladiators and animals ripping into each other. Again, the imagery is clearly meant to be more silly than offensive or disturbing, but people should be aware of the cards’ graphic nature.

Gorus Maximus may indeed one of the best pub games out there. It’s very easy to learn, highly engaging, has great replay value, and the premium edition is incredibly durable. The only final thing to note is that the game is definitely best in a larger group, rather than solo or duel play.

Recommended if you like: Pinochle, Hearts

Final Grade: A

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Fox serves as an entertainment journalist in the Washington, D.C. When not covering cinematic news for LRM, he critiques films as a member of the Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association. Fox also has a Ph.D. in Higher Education and Strategy from Indiana University Bloomington.