#171 – Twins

Box

Base price: $25.
3 – 6 players.
Play time: ~30 minutes.
BGG Link
Buy directly!
Logged plays: 4

More Oink Games for the Oink Games pile. I’m kind of excited about getting through all of these and seeing which games are my favorites. Next up, we’ve got Twins, the always-relatable game of spending time as a mobster trying to win a gang war by sending out your strongest two henchmen. Will you be able to come out on top?

Contents

Setup

So the first thing to do is to give everyone money:

Money

Every player gets 12 money. Your money is public for the entire game, in case that was a question.

Next up, shuffle and deal everyone 8 cards:

Cards

Once you’ve done that, you’re … pretty much ready to start. One thing you gotta love about a lot of the Oink Games; there’s not much to setup.

Setup

Gameplay

Gameplay 2

The game of Twins is played over multiple “games”, which are four-round sequences. Each round has two parts: first, everyone plays two cards. Second, everyone evaluates the cards against the round’s condition and gains or loses money.

Cards are evaluated as follows, from highest to lowest:

  • Twins: Twins are two cards with the same value and the same “characteristic” (white or black outline on the card / character’s suit). Ties are broken by value (10 is highest, 1 is lowest).
  • Pairs: Pairs are two cards with the same value and different “characteristic” (white or black outline on the card / character’s suit). Ties are broken by value (10 is highest, 1 is lowest).
  • Colors: Colors are two cards with different values and the same background color (yellow, purple, blue, grey, green, pink). Ties are broken by the sum of the card values (19 is highest, 3 is lowest).
  • Singles: Singles are two random cards with basically nothing in common. Ties are broken by the sum of the card values (19 is highest, 3 is lowest).

So let’s walk through each part:

  • Before Round 1: At the start of each “game”, each player in turn order may spend 1 coin to draw an extra card, or 3 coins to draw 2 extra cards.
  • Round 1: Once every player plays, the following players must pay 2 coins to the center:
    • 3 players: The player who played the lowest pair.
    • 4 players: The two players who played the lowest pairs.
    • 5 – 6 players: The three players who played the lowest pairs.
    • If there is a tie, all tied players pay into the center. Ties are mean!
  • Round 2: Once every player plays, the following players gain 3 coins from the center:
    • 3 players: The player who played the highest pair.
    • 4 players: The player who played the highest pair.
    • 5 – 6 players: The two players who played the lowest pairs.
    • If there is a tie, nobody gets anything. If there isn’t enough money left, somehow, just split it equally. Or give the strongest overall player more; your call.
  • Round 3: Once every player plays, the following players must pay 1 coin to the center and cannot play in Round 4:
    • 3 players: The player who played the lowest pair.
    • 4 players: The player who played the lowest pair.
    • 5 – 6 players: The two players who played the lowest pairs.
    • If there is a tie, all tied players pay into the center and are out for the next round. Ties are even meaner!
  • Round 4: Once every player plays, the player who played the highest pair takes the entire pot! If there’s a tie, leave the pot as-is for the next round.

Once that’s all done, discard the remaining cards, shuffle them, and re-deal 8 to every player. The “start” player is now the player to the left of the previous start player.

Gameplay 3

An example “game”. I’d say “game” 3, judging by the plays.

If at any point a player pays more money than they have available (other than buying mobsters), that player is disqualified. When that happens, whatever “game” you’re playing is the final game. Finish those four rounds, and whichever player has the most money wins!

If you’re looking for quick variants, either play with less (or more, I guess???) starting money to shorten the game (or lengthen it). If you really want, you can also give players uneven starting amounts to either compensate for experienced players or make things a bit more interesting.

Player Count Differences

I think I enjoy this game most at high player counts. The risk you run is that at higher player counts, more money ends up in the pot, which means Round 4 is more valuable. That said, people tend to play more aggressively because of that, so the game tends to go faster, which is strange. I’ve found 3 – 4 player games tend to take longer for me than 5 – 6 player games, so I vastly prefer the latter.

Strategy

  • It’s not always worth trying to salvage a bad hand. Think of it this way. If you spend no money and lose every hand, you lose 3 money and then you’re out. If you spend 3 money and still lose every hand, now you’re out 6 money and still out! That’s even worse.
  • At high player counts, if you don’t have Twin 10s, you might as well not even bother trying to win Round 4. Usually at least one player has them when you’re playing with 5 or 6 people. If people aren’t sure, though, you might be able to win Round 2…
  • Sometimes it’s better to win Round 2 than try to win Round 4. If the pot’s already kind of small, draining 3 coins from it might mean that it’s not actually that worthwhile for someone to take it all, especially if very few people buy cards / lose Round 1.
  • Don’t lose sight of the goal. Even if you have Twin 10s, if you lose Round 3 you don’t get to play Round 4, so don’t waste your second-best hand in Round 2 if you expect to win Round 4.
  • Beware the straight. One of the worst hands you can have is 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8. That’s a real bummer because the best you’ll have is Colors, and nobody wins Round 4 on Colors.
  • If you’re strapped for cash, just try to hang on. Maybe if you get lucky in one “game” you can win Round 2 and use that money to start making your way back into the game. This means that your best two hands should be played in Rounds 1 and 3 so that you don’t lose any more money than you’ve already lost.

Pros, Mehs, and Cons

Pros

  • Very colorful. It’s bright and fun. Even the box has a bright purple color that’s super eye-catching.
  • Easy to transport. As are all Oink games, yes, but I still appreciate them, since I travel a bunch.
  • It’s interesting. The strategy is non-obvious and requires a lot of luck, but it’s kind of neat to try and play through the multiple games while weathering the tradeoffs of making certain decisions.
  • The scoring is super simple. Makes the rounds go by much more quickly, which I appreciate.

Mehs

  • Bad hands feel surprisingly common. It’s a bummer, but at least you can usually end up with two good hands if you get lucky on card draws.
  • It can take a while for new players to wrap their heads around the game. Honestly, I think this is the most confusing Oink game. Maybe moreso than even Maskmen.
  • Calling the black or white part of the card “characteristic” is a bit difficult to parse for new players. This means you’ll occasionally have players thinking that that is what determines color for Colors, which is never fun for them.

Cons

  • Calling the multi-round sequences “games” makes the game annoying to explain. A game is multiple games is multiple rounds is … annoying. I tend to use “Match” to describe multiple “games” of Twins, now, just in case someone decides they want to read the rules.
  • Sometimes people can linger for … a while. I’ve seen people get multiple lucky hands and just stay in the game for an inordinate amount of time. They can’t normally win, but they can make sure the game doesn’t end. That’s usually not good.

Overall: 7.25 / 10

In Progress

Overall, Twins is super weird, but I kind of like it! I definitely prefer it at higher player counts since it’s a bit more predictable (since you know almost all the cards are out) and it has consistently run faster each time I’ve played it at higher player counts, but I wouldn’t necessarily count it out at lower player counts, yet. I’ll just need to play it more. Either way, if you’re looking for another Oink game to try, Twins is certainly an interesting experience, so check it out!

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