Sideshow Swap Game Review: A simple and brazen circus party game for all ages

Sideshow Swap Card Game

Intro

Sideshow Swap is a fun, easy-to-learn game of light deduction equally enjoyable for kids and adults alike. While gamers will enjoy it, the ability to teach the entire game in about three sentences makes it perfect for light-hearted party play with non-gamers.

Gameplay Overview

Pay a few Bux for a ticket to the show and use them to swap, steal, earn Bux, or impact yourself and other players in many ways. Keep track of as many upside-down performers as you can to try and end the game with the highest-valued circus performer for the win!

Quick Thoughts

I love a straightforward and fun party game that only takes a few minutes to learn and to play. Get a quick round in before dinner’s ready or pull it out at the family Christmas party. Easy-to-learn, fast-paced party games like this one which invoke great gaming moments (see below) are always going to be at the top of my list.

While the mechanics of Sideshow Swap are very simple, there is a hefty amount of behind-the-scenes strategy going on. You’ll want to engage your foresight and plan ahead, but not too much! Other players’ actions impact you so much that you’ll find long-term plans foiled more often than not. Be loose and flexible, roll with the punches, and you’ll do well.

I love great gaming moments, and Sideshow Swap has plenty of them! You’ll secretly cheer (only to yourself!) when your Stinky Pete performer gets unexpectedly swapped with the Ringmaster just as you’re about to play your last ticket to end the game. Or you’ll very outwardly groan as another player forces you to disclose your Conjoined Twins card to all players, most likely leading to your losing this high card very soon.

Take the time to read the descriptions of the performers in the rules! They are hilarious and well worth the read. Consider Olive, the high-diver: “Fearless every time she climbs the ladder, it’s not until she looks down that her vertigo kicks in. Between that, and the fact that she can’t swim, we’re left wondering why she was hired in the first place.” Isabella the fire breather and Zebulon the fortune teller are even better. =-)

Sideshow Swap Card Game

Tips & Tricks

  • While you do want to draw new tickets for their value, don’t go too crazy. If you have a very high performer and want to end the game by using all of your tickets, you’ll be stuck with too many tickets which will probably get your high performer card stolen before you have a chance to end it.
  • If you can remember cards well and implement a strategy at the same time, more power to you. If you need to focus on one like us normal human beings, just remember where the highest and next highest cards are and focus on your game plan.

Scoring & Wrap-up

Overall, as a light-weight party game, I give Sideshow Swap a high 8 out of 10 (“enjoy playing and would suggest it” on BGG’s scale) for the following reasons:

Promoters

  • It’s a quick, easy-to-learn, easy-to-play party game. What more could you want?
  • Its humor is witty and clever.
  • Gameplay mechanics are super simple with some nice, underlying strategy at play.
  • The artwork pulls you right into a 19th century circus atmosphere.
  • The light memory component is excellent.
  • The power of the ticket actions matches their cost very well.
  • “Bux” is just a cool name for the money tokens. =-)

Detractors

  • While still a lot of fun, the game doesn’t quite scale well for 7 or 8 players. Something seems to be a bit lost with that many people. I would say ideal is 4-6 players.

Overall, if you like light-weight party games, you will very much like Sideshow Swap. Again, it takes two seconds to learn, 10-15 minutes to play, and creates some really fun laughs, cheers, and groans.

Keep an eye out for the Kickstarter campaign starting Q1 2019!


Disclaimer: I received this game for free in exchange for my review, but believe me, I post authentic reviews every time and will be brazenly blunt if needs be.

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