Cockroach Poker Review


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Posted by Charlie on May 6, 2016

Trying to sell a game to your group with "Poker" in the title can be a difficult task. Luckily it gets a bit easier when you explain that this German import originally released in 2004 goes by the name of Kakerlaken (or Cockroach) Poker, which typically puts a smile on even the dourest of faces.

This cute bug game has nothing at all to do with Poker proper. It's reverse set collection where you want to pawn off cards on opponents. A player loses as soon as they get four of the same type of bug in front of them or their hand runs out. Strangely enough, everyone else at the table wins in this instance and shares in their victory, thumbing their nose at the poor sucker left with a collection of insects.

Cockroach Poker succeeds because it captures the heart of bluffing directly and without fat. On your turn you pass a card to another player face-down and declare what bug is pictured from eight possible choices, with the big caveat being that you can lie. The receiver then either accepts the card and addresses your claim, or they look at it and then pass it to another player. Passing kicks the process off again and the new passer is in no way beholden to the previous claim.

When you accept the card you boldly state whether you believe the opponent who tossed the bug your way is lying or telling the truth. If you guess correctly the passer keeps it face up in front of them, if you're wrong you take it to your tableau.

That's it. With two pages of rules we have this absolutely beautiful and elegant game of passing a card to someone else and lying through your teeth. Or telling the truth. Whatever you fancy. This is absolutely a best in class bluffing title right alongside the venerable Skull. It brings laughs, head-to-head bouts of wit, and even a degree of strategy. The tension can be quite fierce as you look at a card given to you in preparation to pass it to another player, and you need to quickly decide how you’re going to play it. Pretending to hem and haw over your decision or throwing a feint by fumbling over your words purposely is enormously satisfying. A metagame can certainly develop as you try to manipulate your adversaries and throw off their BS meters. The pest control companies make a killing off these nasty little buggers because nobody wants them in their house. That shouldn’t stop you from pulling this deck of cards out and having an absolute blast. Wink, harass, and live it up. Just don't get caught with your pants down.