Hogger Logger is a fast paced card game for 2-5 players, in which players attempt to win rounds by correctly guessing whether cards will be higher or lower while trying to thwart the efforts of their opponents to do the same.
I was provided with a prototype copy of Hogger Logger and therefore did not judge the game based on the appearance of the components in any way.
To begin the game, and a round within a game, separate the Numbers Deck and the Action Deck. Randomly determine the initial guesser in the first round as in all future rounds the first guesser will be the winner of the previous round. Then follow these steps at the beginning of each round:
- Deal four face down cards from the Numbers Deck and arrange them onto the table in a straight line.
- Place one face up card from the Numbers Deck directly above the line. This card is referred to as the “current card.”
- Deal each player three cards from the Numbers Deck. These cards make up each player’s hand.
At this point, the guesser picks a face down card, declares whether he thinks it is higher or lower than the “current” card, and reveals the face down card to see if he was correct. If the guess was correct, the player chooses another face down card and repeats the process. If the guess was correct, and it was the last card in the middle, the player is the winner of this round. However, if the guesser is wrong at any point, the player on his left becomes the new guesser and performs the same steps until guessing wrong or winning the round. Regardless of whether the guess was correct or not, the revealed card becomes the new “current” card.
The trick is, after the guesser declares higher or lower, but prior to revealing a face down card, all other players may play number cards from their hands on the “current” card and thus alter the guesser’s chances of making a correct choice. Players may also play action cards should they have any. Should a player play and 8, the mighty Pork Chopper himself, or play a card with the same number as the current card, he may take an action card from the top of the deck. There is no turn order for these plays and the action is only limited by players exhausting their hands or deciding they do not wish to play any further cards. At this point the guesser may now give his final answer, reveal the card, and resolve the outcome accordingly. If the guess is correct and it is the last face down card the player has won the round. If that brings the player’s total rounds won up to the predetermined number to win the game, he is declared the victor. If the player is wrong, and it is the last card, the card still becomes the new “current” card and a new card is placed face down in the middle of the table with the guessing moving to the player left of the previous guesser.
When a round ends, if it is not the last of the game, place all cards dealt into two discard piles: one for the Action Cards and one for the Number Cards. When there are no more cards to deal, shuffle the discard piles. Repeat the set up steps for a new round, with the round’s winner being the first guesser.
I played Hogger Logger as a two player and a four player game. The two player session was with my wife and the four player with her and the kids, Katie (15) and Jarrett (14). As we suspected it would be, the four player game was significantly better than the two player, but it still left us underwhelmed. Given that Hogger Logger is designed to be a highly social game for casual players, I thought it best to bring in the kids and see what they would think, as they are more geared toward this sort of game. Katie liked it the most, but neither of them really got into it. Jarrett particularly disliked it, due to the chaotic nature of the turns. He commented during one stint as the guesser, while we all furiously played cards, for us to, “Let me know when you are done taking my turn for me.”
Following the game, I settled on my personal rating for Hogger Logger, a 4.0 out of 10, but asked everyone else at the table for theirs before saying anything. Heather went with a 5.5, Katie 5.75, and Jarrett a 3.0. Sadly, Hogger Logger, was simply not a hit at our table. I believe the leading issue for our group was the high level of chance and the chaotic game play. I understand the idea behind the lack of a turn order is to create a high-energy and social atmosphere, but at least in our experience, it just felt sloppy. The guesser may play cards, but for the most part his turn consists of watching as the other players stick it to him while he simply waits to make a guess on whatever is finally determined to be the “current” card. This can cause the guesser to feel somewhat disengaged from the action and that is not a good thing to have happen in a social game.
As for strategy, it is limited to a combination of reflexes (trying to quickly play a duplicate card to draw action cards), card counting, and saving your cards to control the outcome of the last face down card. This allows you to try to drive the guessing to yourself for the last card by sabotaging the other players. Given that only the guess of consequence is the last one, it is important to save your tricks for it. However, this is only effective if you were lucky enough to have cards that can alter the outcome. Unfortunately, it does not take long for everyone to figure this out, and thus render the early guesses in a round irrelevant. This results in a bit of action on the next to last card and a wild flurry on the very last.
While we did not love Hogger Logger, there were some positives to the game, and it is only fair to mention those as well. It is very easy to teach, taking less than five minutes to explain the game. Although hardcore gamers will likely not be fans of Hogger Logger, I could imagine very young gamers playing with parents and enjoying the kinetic nature of the game. The box says ages 10+, but I think any child that is able to read would be more than capable of playing Hogger Logger. It could also be used as a bit of a teaching tool for young players, helping them to learn the concept of greater than/less than. To the right group, Hogger Logger may offer a social and casual gaming experience, but ours was not that group.
I am not surprised to discover that Hogger Logger is not my cup of tea. I, without a doubt, fall into that more hardcore type of gamer and fully admit that I am probably not their target audience. However, I was somewhat surprised at the reactions of my wife and kids. Heather is more of a mid-core gamer, and I would consider both kids to light/casual gamers and it did not resonate with them to any greater extent either. I feel this should be the most disconcerting news for the Hogger Logger team, as Heather and the kids are exactly the kind of people to whom they are trying to appeal. Unfortunately, I cannot recommend Hogger Logger to any but the most casual of gaming groups, and even then would advise caution.
Let it be known to all readers and government officials alike, that Life in Games received a free copy of this game for the purpose of providing an objective review. No further compensation of any sort changed hands between myself and the publisher.
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