With Karma, from Set Enterprises, you get a deck of cards numbered 1-16 three times—plus 12 special “Karma” cards. The goal is to get rid of all your cards by dropping on to the discard pile a card that’s equal-to or greater than the card placed by the last player. If you can’t play up, as it were, the whole discard pile becomes yours.
It’s a basic style of gameplay that you’ve probably experienced before. What Karma adds to that, though, includes:
All together, this makes for a serviceable light, social card game if that’s what you’re looking for. Play is rapid. Decisions are easy. The game has a take-that element. And the relative fortunes of players can reverse quickly.
Personally, however I don’t particularly enjoy Karma. Whether it usually goes that way or not, Karma feels like a game that could last forever. The fewer cards you have in your hand, the more likely it will be that you’ll have to take the discard pile. Even when you get down to your last three table cards, those are the face-down ones, which you have to play without looking. If the one you play is a lower number than the last played card, there you are starting over with a full hand. When I played, I actually found myself intentionally saving up and laying down triples just to move the game along.
Another thing that bothers me a little about Karma is the way the game defines winners and losers. According to the rules, you keep playing until all but one person has gotten rid of all their cards. All those people are winners. The one player left with cards is the loser. It’s not a big deal for a group of adults. However, it seems to me not an especially nice way to end a social card game by declaring one lone loser.
A complimentary copy of Karma was provided by Set Enterprises for review.