I played Deja-vu at the local board game cafe. How very convenient!
The game: Deja-vu by Heinz Meister, published by Amigo (and several other publishers) in 2017.
Elevator pitch: A combination of a memory game and a reaction test: pick up the items you’ve seen twice in the cards, but make no mistakes!
What’s in the box? A huge pack of cards (not many cards, they’re just big) and bunch of cardboard objects. The illustrations are really nice, and the black borders of the items make them look really sharp and neat. Everything is well done.
What do you do in the game? The goal is to pick up as many items as possible. Cards are shuffled, three are removed unseen and then you start flipping cards one by one. Each card has one to three items, and each item appears on exactly two cards.
When you think you’ve seen an item appear twice, you can pick it up. It’s one point for you. There are no turns, so the fastest player takes the item. However, if a card is flipped and it shows an item you’ve picked, you’re out of the round. You keep your items, but score zero points.
In the end of the round, the three cards that were taken aside in the beginning are flipped face up. If you have any of those items, you’re busted. Count points for items for players who didn’t make mistakes, and play again. The player with the most points after three rounds wins the game.
Lucky or skillful? There’s no luck involved, it’s all memory and reaction speed. There’s input randomness to keep things fresh.
Abstract or thematic? There’s no theme. The items are a random assortment of household objects, all cleverly similar with at least one other item (clock looks like a compass; shovel looks like an axe; the hat is depicted in the stamp and so on).
Solitaire or interactive? There’s no interaction outside the race to grab the tiles.
Players: 2–6. I guess you can also play alone. I’ve played with five and it was ok, but I think the game is slightly better with fewer players.
Who can play? Age recommendation is 8+. It’s accurate, could even be lower. The rules are simple enough for almost anybody. However, to be enjoyable, the game requires players of approximately similar skill. Because of the heavy memory element, this isn’t quite as brutal as many reaction test games are, but still, in a family environment this may not work perfectly.
What’s to like: New twist on reaction tests and memory games; looks really nice.
What’s not to like: If you don’t like memory games or reaction tests, this game will not change your mind.
My verdict: I like most reaction test games and don’t mind memory games (but dislike memory elements in other games). Deja-vu sounded like a fun game and I wasn’t disappointed – it sure is a fun little game. The idea feels fresh and the components are excellent, so it’s really a pleasure to play.
It represents a divisive genre, and if you hate reaction tests or memory games, you’re not going to love Deja-vu. If you have a bunch of players, roughly on the same skill level, Deja-vu is a hoot. The way the memories of the items you’ve seen start to mix up after a couple of rounds is delightful and leads to surprising failures – all of which is a lot of fun.
On the scale of Enthusiastic, Suggest, Indifferent or Avoid, Deja-vu gets Suggest from me.