Jorge Zhang

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Pope or Nope Review

I recently had the chance to review another game from my Rulebook Preview series, which you can find here. After writing the preview, I really wanted to try out the game to see if it would work in the way that I thought it would. Special thanks to the creators for sending me a copy so that I could write this review! Anyway, let’s check this game out!

Gameplay

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Who will do the greatest deed?

In Pope or Nope, you are trying to gain favor with the pope by doing good deeds. Each player starts with 5 cards in hand. The players then simultaneously play 1 deed from their hand (if they have one). Players will then take turns trying to sabotage each-other’s deeds or redeeming their own deed. The first player to complete 5 deeds wins! In practice, getting 5 deeds is quite difficult and relies on some careful timing and strategy.

The best illustration of this is probably to talk about how the game actually played out. In our first game I only needed 1 point to win, and I had a rank 2 deed that I could redeem with the rank 3 deed in my hand. However, I knew that someone else probably had a rank 3 cancel. So, in order to bait it out I decided to use Reduco to reduce my friend’s rank 4 deed to a rank 3 deed. Lo and behold, their deed was canceled, which allowed me to redeem my rank 2 deed and win the game.

In the second game, we were all tied on 4 points, and so the last round was an extremely tense game of everyone trying their best to get even 1 point. “Can anybody stop Jack from winning the game?,” I asked my friends. They each nodded no, so I went ahead and used my cards to cancel Jack’s deeds. But they hadn’t been entirely truthful: in fact, Chenshu had kept a “Nope!” until the very last second, using it to win the game!

Components and Artwork

The cards were a bit on the thin side considering the amount of times you need to shuffle the deck, (probably several times for a 4 player game) but otherwise were of high quality. What really stood out was the graphic design and artwork of the cards. Several of my friends commented that they thought the artwork was excellent, and I have to agree. There was definitely a lot of attention to small details. One example would be the Cancello symbol that was added onto cards that could be canceled. This small addition was very nice, as it meant that the players did not have to remember that certain cards could not be cancelled with Cancello.

Overall

Pope or Nope has extremely heavy player interaction akin to something like Munchkin, but plays significantly faster. While luck was definitely an element, there was a lot of bluffing and hidden strategy to explore. It is also very difficult for there to be a runaway leader due to the fact that players can gang up on one player. We even found that cards, such as “Draw 2,” tended to be not as powerful as we once thought as it is so important to start off the game with a Deed in play. That leads me to one of the minor issues I encountered, which was that it could be frustrating to not start off with any Deeds. I noticed that when several players could not play Deeds, there was often times too high a percentage of cancels going around, which resulted in no players gaining any points.

Our group really loved this game. I personally enjoyed it a lot, and found that Pope or Nope made for a very simple and easy game to bring out to the table. I would recommend the game to those looking for a fast-paced game with a lot of player interaction.

Would you want to be the Pope? Let me know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!

© 2020 Jorge Zhang