I am a man-child of the 90’s and an enthusiastic collector of tiny toy soldier-monsters. To me, Cool Mini Or Not will always mean a website full of beautifully painted Marines of the Space variety and assorted pieces of metal-awesomeness. So, when I gleefully unwrapped the brown box containing my copy of Raise Your Goblets and spotted the CMON icon on the side, I was intrigued.
In the many years since I last perused their collection of crowd-sourced time-sinks, the CMON team have branched out. No longer satisfied simply showing you that other people have superior skills / more free time than you, they have started producing their own board games. And not just any board games, but massive boxes of gorgeous miniatures oozing with style and swagger. Part of me expected a bucketful of tiny plastic aristocrats to fall out of Raise Your Goblets but no, the sculpting is limited to 6 identical plastic drinking vessels. The scarcity of individualised pieces is key to Raise Your Goblets as keeping note of which cup your dastardly foe just dumped a fistful of… somethings in is pretty much the entire game.
I is poisoning your cups with my poisons, lolz
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here, aren’t we?
Raise Your Goblets is a 2-12 player game created by Tim Page. It sadly failed to get Kickstarted in 2016 (under the name “Toast”) but was then picked up by the CMON team who spotted a diamond in the mountain of variable quality Kickstarters of that year. With 4-6 players, you play a banqueting noble attempting to poison one of the other nobles while another player seeks to spoil your drink with cyanide. At 7-12 players, everyone gets a wine taster who may or may not be incentivised to allow their master to sup a poisoned chalice. With less than 4, it becomes more akin to Russian Roulette.
It’s rare for a game to handle such a variable player count but by offering three different modes of play all utilising the same the core mechanics I have to appreciate Mr Page’s cleverness. I accidentally played the main version with 3 players and it still kind of worked, in a “doesn’t really work but is fun enough that we don’t mind” kind of way.
Crafted by artisanal masters?
Creepy yet strangely attractive… the artwork, not me
Raise Your Goblets is a lovely bit of kit with 6 plastic goblets, coloured plastic rings to help identify said goblets, a stack of well printed cards for the various characters, targets & loyalty statuses for the different game modes along with the satisfyingly chunky poison/wine/antidote gems. These gems are small enough to palm quietly into your targets drinking vessel, while also being obvious enough when peeking into your cup. The player screens that hide your remaining stash of deadly/curative/alcoholic supplies also have clear pictograms on the reverse to remind you of your available actions.
We’re going “post-language” here, people. Genuine love for the hieroglyphic crib-sheet
Inside the Raise Your Goblets box, all this plastic and card loveliness is encased in the most useful box insert since Lords Of Waterdeep. Every component is secure and fits beautifully in this perfect plastic cradle.
But is it actually any good?
I’m not generally a fan of memory games due to being easily distracted and living in a world of infinite wonder and beauty. For me to enjoy Raise Your Goblets is unexpected… and I do. Sometimes.
And we’re going to….
You see, my aged brain fails to retain useful facts like anniversaries, the names of new neighbours / offspring and which cup I’ve just dumped a pile of poison tokens into. Any other memory game would leave me cold, shaking my fists at my own poor recall. This isn’t the case with Raise Your Goblets as the moment you’ve lost track of which cup you’ve filled with murder, your role switches to “dispenser of chaos”. Of course this isn’t an actual rule in the game, but great enjoyment can be had by hurling tokens with abandon and swapping goblets around like you know what you’re doing. Inevitably you end up swigging a dozen poison tokens but the game plays quickly and a loss is soon forgotten.
Die. We’re all dead except winey mcwineface Red who scored all the wine AND lived to enjoy the hangover
I was initially drawn to Raise Your Goblets as my expanding hordette (or “family” as some might call them) thoroughly enjoys games such as Cash ‘N Guns and One Night Ultimate *Insert-Creature-Name-Here* so the mix of duplicity and murder seemed like a good fit. What particularly attracted me was that your target noble is randomly dealt, face up so each player knows who is slaying who. If you’ve ever had to adjudicate a Cash ‘N Guns argument over “he’s targeted me 4 turns in a row now, it’s bullying”, this simple rule will be very welcome and possible save a call to Childline.
Black = poison, red = wine, white = antidote, this cup = more than a touch of heartburn
So, is that a yes?
Raise Your Goblets is a simple game to learn (rules available here) but one that is more fun to play casually than to play well. With Raise Your Goblets, the most joy can be extracted by replacing your 3D Chess mindset with a Kerplunk strategy. Just fully engage with the inherent chaos. Once you realise that you’re in the Sicilian scene from The Princess Bride but with up to 12 Vizzini’s, the futility of strategic play becomes apparent, particularly as Raise Your Goblets is a memory game and I’m decrepit. As a memory game, some players will basically loathe it regardless of components / game-experience / artwork / bribery but if you ensure your games are chaotic and joyous, you’ll bring them round.
You chose… poorly
Hmmm, tricky. All game experiences are variably based on the players at the table, but Raise Your Goblets is more affected by this than any other game I’ve played. With a good natured, nay rambunctious crowd it becomes a joy. In the base game mode of Raise Your Goblets, you theoretically only need to track two cups. A toxic one for your foe and a tasty one for you. But in reality you need to remember which goblets other players are fooling around with and I don’t seem to have an eye for this. I’m thinking 7/10, maybe with a plus 1 if you’re looking for a party game, ideally for sociopaths.
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The failed genetic combination betwixt a wooden cube and a rage infected monkey, Sane must seek out the perfect board, card or digital distraction to control the raging spirit that dwells within him. Or beat Pandemic in heroic mode, whatever.
His most regular games group consists almost exclusively of his spawn; The Cherub, The Heir, The Destroyer, The Bounce and his shiny pink mascot, The Star. These diminutive devils delight in Dad's disastrous duels, dicing with death as they defiantly defeat him... doo-doo, doooo. Meh