The Alexandrian

Ex-RPGNet Reviews – Pivot

December 15th, 2011

Tagline: One of four games in WOTC’s family card game line, Pivot has all the potential of becoming a classic card game.

Ultimately, Twitch was definitely the best of the games in this line. Pivot hasn’t gotten as much play through the years, but I did pull it out at a party recently and had a good time with it. I’d still recommend tracking down a copy as a quirky alternative to Uno.

Pivot - Wizards of the CoastWizards of the Coast has recently released a series of four games – Twitch, Pivot, Alpha Blitz, and Go Wild! — designed to enter the family marketplace alongside familiar games like Uno and Skip-Bo. After reading a review of Twitch I immediately went out and bought myself a copy of what sounded like a great, addictive game and was anything but disappointed (see my review of Twitch elsewhere on RPGNet).

On the strength of my extremely positive results with Twitch I went out and bought Pivot. After playing this game I would have to say that Twitch is the superior game, but Pivot is fantastic as well – as testament to that fact I’ve played it three nights in a row, and have plans to play it again this evening.

The concept, like Twitch’s, is incredibly simple: You have cards numbered from 1-80 along with a handful of Up cards, Down cards, and Pivot cards. Each player is dealt a hand of seven cards. The first player plays a card and the next player (going clockwise) must play a card higher than the one last played. Play continues in this manner until a Down card is played. When the Down card is played play now goes counterclockwise and each subsequent player must play a card lower than the one before him. This, of course, continues until an Up card is played. Pivot cards have the effect of reversing the direction of play no matter which way it is currently going (if you’re going up, a Pivot card will make you go down – if you’re going down the Pivot card will make you go up). If you can’t play you have to draw a card. If you play a card and no one else can play a card (play goes all the way around the circle and returns to you with no additional cards being played) you can play whatever card you want to. The goal is to get rid of all your cards.

That’s the game in a nutshell. In addition some of the number cards also act as specials – Extra Turn lets you take an extra turn before play goes onto the next player, Next Player Draw makes the next player draw a card before his turn, and Skip Next Player means (surprise, surprise) play skips the player after you. There’s also an optional scoring method if you want to play several games in a row to determine an outcome.

I have only one specific, quantifiable problem with this game. To understand this problem requires a bit of context: The Up card has a picture of a red arrow curving in a clockwise direction (which is the direction play continues when an Up card is in effect). The Down card, on the other hand, is a blue arrow pointing in a counterclockwise direction. The Pivot card has two arrows – one pointing clockwise and the other counterclockwise. So far so good, but for some unknown reason they chose (on the Pivot card) to color the clockwise arrow blue and the counterclockwise arrow red.

No one’s claiming that this isn’t a minor problem, but it confused us several times when we were first trying to get a hang of the game. (“What direction is play going?” “Let’s look at the arrow…” whoops…).

Here’s the final analysis: Twitch is ultra-addictive and a great game – if you haven’t bought it yet, I would say you should buy that one first. Pivot is a fairly addictive game, but also has strategy (which Twitch definitely doesn’t have).

Like Twitch, Pivot isn’t going to find a place on your shelf alongside Magic or the Dune CCG, but it is an admirable addition to your collection of games like Uno or Skip-Bo.

Style: 4
Substance: 4

Title: Pivot
Writers: Andre Francois with Jim Lin, Richard Garfield, Robert Gutschera, Paul Peterson, and Teeuwynn Woodruff
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Price: $6.95
Page Count: n/a
ISBN: 1-57530-597-6
Originally Published: 1998/06/23

For an explanation of where these reviews came from and why you can no longer find them at RPGNet, click here.

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