Many decades ago ten exquisite Matryoshka were made. Each doll was a nest of seven, each more beautiful and delicate than the next. But over the years the matryoshka were separated, with individual pieces in collections across the globe. A group of antique dealers has slowly recollected the original Matryoshka, and now meet to reassemble the dolls. But their motives are not entirely altruistic – each dealer hopes to leave this meeting with the most valuable of all the dolls.

In Matryoshka players are attempting to create sets of cards by trading with each other. Players start with a hand of six of cards. Round one opens with each player laying two face up in front of them. Trading then commences with the active player offering a card and the other players submitting cards to trade secretly. Cards change hands, each player has an opportunity to offer a card, then everyone collects all their cards (including those face down in front of them.)

The next round begins by revealing 4 cards and trade resumes. Subsequent rounds will reveal 6, 8, and finally 13 cards to form their final tableau.. Scoring consists of rows and columns – numerical sequences and sets of different Matryoshka of the same value (with bonuses for sequences of more than 5 numbers). The collector with the most valuable set of Matryoshka wins!

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The theme and art are likely to catch your attention first. There’s no other game (to our knowledge) that relates to these captivating little nesting dolls. And in Matryoshka, each doll is brightly colored and full of detail. Tableau building is just as much for information as to build a grid of the pictures – you’ll feel like a real collector as you start to build sets.

And as bonus, Letiman Games has commissioned some drop dead GORGEOUS special art for the deluxe kickstarter edition from four dynamic artists, introducing more diversity to the dolls themselves.

Its deceptively simple. A two minute how to is as much as it takes to learn the rules, and this could easily be picked up by kids for a quick family game night game. Another point in its favor for family gamers – it can be vaguely co-operative based on the group. Maybe while gaming with the kids you want to have primarily positive trades, but with your Friday night game buddies it can be a little more mercenary, The game accommodates both well without rules changes.

The hidden/not so hidden information is the real twist, which supports a game more strategic then it seems at first. How much information do you give away and when? Build slowly or snap up high value cards early? Sets of dolls? Sets of numbers? Do you try to thwart someone’s set or focus single-mindedly on your own collections? The same info could be radically different the next round, so counting on things early could win the day or land you with a lot of lonely, single matryoshka at the end of the game.

Player count is 3-5 and its genuinely good at each of those counts. There’s enough variety in cards and most of the dolls will be seen by at least two people each game, so the mechanics help balance gameplay for three, four, or five players. Additionally, the game is almost entirely based on player interaction, so you’ll actually get to enjoy playing with your game group and not taking actions individually in silence.

Matryoshka can be player with 3-5, recommended for 8+, and plays in about 20 minutes. Matryoshka is currently available on Kickstarter and expected delivery is December 2019.

Matryosha was provided to us by Letiman Games and is currently on Kickstarter.