Parade Banner

Alice and her friends in Wonderland are starting a parade. Huzzah!

Something so simple, so fun, so light and airy!

And as a game? A brain-burning killfest.

Well, maybe not a killfest per se—although that white rabbit gets on my nerves with his constant moaning about being chronologically challenged—but a lot of depth for 66 cards.

Third Edition

Designer: Naoki Homma

Publisher: Z-Man Games, 2013

Players: 2-6

Ages: 12+

Play time: 60 minutes

Mechanic(s): Hand Management, Set Collection

Weight: Light-Medium – “More challenging, but still simple”

MSRP: $19.99 ***

Back of the Line, Interloper!

The goal of Parade is to score the least number of points as determined by the numeric value of the cards a player collects.The game consists of a deck of cards in six colored suits, with cards numbered 0-10. Each player is dealt five cards, then six cards from the deck are set out one after another, forming a line. Each player must then play a card from his or her hand to the end of the line. Use the numeric value of the card played to count forward toward the front of the parade of cards, starting the count from the card immediately before the card played. Any card in the line that remains in front of the last card counted must be picked up if it matches either the color of the played card or its number. If the numeric value of the played card exceeds the number of cards before it in the parade, take none. Any matched cards are then set face up in front of the player.  The player draws another card from the deck and the next player plays.

The game ends when one player has collected face up cards in all six colors or the draw deck is exhausted. On reaching those conditions, each player is given one more turn. Each player then selects two cards in-hand to discard and plays the other two to the face-up sets.

The cards face up in front of the player are normally counted as points against, but the genius of this game comes from pushing one’s luck in a majority color. If a player has a majority of cards in one color, all the cards in that majority are reassigned a face value of 1. A player may have majority in more than one color as well. That push-your-luck element makes for some maddening gameplay.

Lovely to Behold, Devilish to Play

Parade, now in its third edition, contains the following:

  • A deck of 66 cards
  • An English rulebook
  • A French rulebook
  • A half dozen drink coasters touting the game (!)

Z-Man’s site claims the game includes a scorepad, but one was not included in this review copy, so YMMV. Truthfully, a scorepad seems extraneous.

But then so do the drink coasters, though Z-Man gets kudos for an unusual marketing ploy.

The cards contain revised artwork and are lovely to behold. Still, they have a problem that afflicts far too many board and card games: color choices. The cards are framed and numbered in orange, red, purple, blue, gray, yellow, and green. In less than perfect light, the purple and gray are far too similar, and in the game that I played with my family, EVERYONE had trouble telling them apart, not just the men. A warmer light only makes the problem worse. Stronger, whiter light will help, but still. This could have been alleviated not only by choosing a different shade of gray but by changing the shape of the colored frame to be unique to each suit. Why companies fail to account for this is one of the most perplexing issues in tabletop games, and for a revised version of this game to fail to account for this is a huge oversight. Don’t people playtest these things?

Wherein the Military Veteran Goes to His Intense Place

I played this game with family. My 24-year-old nephew, a Navy vet of the submarine corps, played this Alice in Wonderland-themed game as if he were in a cat-and-mouse battle with a Chinese sub in the Pacific. In fact, the amount of analysis paralysis from everyone was about as much as I’ve ever seen in any card game. It was as if the losers faced lynching.

But that’s the beauty of Parade—two minutes of rules explanation followed by a deep game. That evinces a most uncommon word in gaming: elegance. That it comes in a game as inexpensive as this one is even more rare.

Try What That Caterpillar Is Smokin’ and Free Your Mind, Man

Thoughts on aspects of the game:

Components: The linen-finished cards are good-looking but thinner than some playing cards. The pack of 66 Parade cards barely exceeded the thickness of a pack of standard casino-quality playing cards. Since the game is produced in Germany, which is the home of high quality game production, this is a tad disappointing. Then there’s that annoying color issue.

Theme: You hear about a theme being “pasted on”? Alice and her friends are swimming in adhesive. The theme could have been anything. That said, the artwork is still excellent.

Instructions: The tri-fold rulebook is on heavy, art-paper stock and is excellent, depicting exactly the confusing in-game play situation I envisioned that I could not find resolved in earlier edition rulebooks. This edition makes the solution clear. The artwork and text in the instructions are good-looking also. Detailed scoring examples are the finishing touch.

Gameplay: When we completed playing Parade, the rest of the family wanted to play again. That’s a win. As noted, the gameplay is elegant. And while deeper, more complex games exist, for what Parade is, it’s a fine representative of how much game one can wring out of a simple set of cards.

Value: Truthfully, you could play Parade with a set of more inexpensive Decktet cards from a print and play company, plus you could play other games with Decktet. But you also would lose some of the charm of the Parade illustrations and the visual simplicity. With gameplay as solid as it is, Parade is good value and will provide many hours of brain-scorching entertainment.

A Rabbit Hole You’ll Want to Fall Down

Simple, elegant gameplay in an inexpensive, nicely illustrated card game. This would make a good stocking stuffer for Christmas or a game you could give to a family member without worry. It’s deeper than many other card games, but easy to understand. Mastery, on the other hand, might take a while. Now go to the end of the line and enjoy the Parade!