Specs: 2-6 Players · 20-30 Minutes · Ages 12+
Mechanics: Drafting, Hand Management & Set Collection
There is quite a bit of complexity in this bubble gum sized package of mini-cards. Players progress through multiple phases of gameplay that require various strategies. First, players draft the mini-cards that display gym-class students and their varying skills. Then, they take turns placing those students into different Events. Players hope to achieve the most points by placing students into the Events that they’re best at.
GYM has a fun theme; it’s all about picking teams of Kids as competing gym-class Coaches. Each Kid has a couple of Events that they specifically excel at displayed on their cards, except for the Brat cards. The Brats have very little skill at any particular Event, but come along with abilities to make up for that. Brats allow players to alter which Events will occur after the drafting phase. It’s challenging to perfect your hand of selected students because only four of the six total Events will come into play afterward, and there are few Brats available. When drafting a Brat, players move the Events they prefer forward along a track. The four Events that are farthest along the track at the end of the drafting phase are the Events that come into play during the following phase.
Once all the Kids have been drafted, and the four Events are determined, those Events are then laid out between each team. Players need to be wise with their hand management placing Kids one at a time, turn by turn, on any given Event. The Events hold powerful actions that trigger once a Kid is placed there, allowing opponents to manipulate their Kids’ positioning, or even yours. The Events range from replacing Kids to putting them back in a player’s hand, as well as swapping sides, and much more. To lock your teams into place, preventing the opponent from manipulating with them, you can use the Brat cards. Once a Brat is added to an Event, those Kids are locked-in and cannot be altered. After all of the students have been placed, players count up their respective points on each card and determine the winner based on who has the most points in total. Fulfilling these Events utilizes set collection because players are required to complete these sets to finish the game. The player with the best collected-sets, earning the most points, wins.
GYM is an enjoyable game that’s simple to grasp and holds a lot of depth. It’s easy to float through and have fun. But, players could spend quite a bit of time determining which Kids to draft, which Events to pursue, and which order to place their Kids into Events, taking advantage of abilities and optimizing their total point value. Even though the game describes itself as allowing up to 6 players, it’s highly advised that you play with only 2; it’s a dueling game. To play with multiple people on teams would only feel like too many cooks in the kitchen. GYM is a game you can easily carry anywhere, bust out in a limited space, and have a good time playing.