Preview: Lawyer Up

Lawyer Up is an upcoming two-player asymmetrical card game from Rock Manor Games where the prosecution and defense face off against each other in an effort to sway the jury and win the case!

To begin, one player takes on the role of the prosecution and the other takes on the role of defense and each secretly pick a strategy card for the game. Each game of Lawyer Up begins with the Discovery phase, where players draft vital evidence to support their case and bury evidence that might help their opponent. Next comes the trial phase, where all players call witnesses and play previously drafted argument, procedure and evidence cards. A player builds their argument by chaining together cards with the same “bias” symbols to earn influence. Attorneys then spend their influence to sway the biases of the jury to their side of the argument!

During “Discovery” players draft cards to use during the “Evidence” phase of the game.  Each player draws three cards from the deck and simultaneously chooses one card to add to their deck, one card to add to their opponent’s deck, and one card to add facedown to the “buried evidence” deck. Therefore, a player is not only constructing their deck, they also get to mess with their opponent’s deck!

During the “Trial” phase, the player who has the judge’s favor calls a witness to the stand. Then players begin taking turns performing a single action. Common actions include playing a card into your examination. To do so, chose a card in your hand that has at least one bias symbol that matches at least one bias symbol of your last card. If there are no cards in your examination, then match a bias symbol on the side of the witness facing you. Most of the cards have bias symbols on them. The symbols correspond to biases that witnesses or jurors may have along with the type of arguments and evidence you’re presenting in court. Each card will increase or decrease player’s “influence” (found on the upper left side of the cards).

Players can also play or activate a procedure card. These special cards can either be played into your examination area as a card with all of the bias symbols but no ability, or they can be played into your procedure area to use their special ability on a later turn.

 Players can also sidebar or pass. A sidebar allows you to flip the judge to be favorable to you and draw a card. If a player passes, they cannot play any more cards into their examination. However, a player may still object! Each player is given three objection tokens to use through the game. Once per witness, a player may object to any argument card played their opponent. After the objection, the opponent’s card is immediately negated and removed, and they must play another card.

After both players have passed, move onto “Resolving” the witness. Players count up their total “influence” and the player with the highest influence wins that witness! Players then resolve any victory or defeat effects found on the cards. Then the winning player spends their influence to sway the jury. Bias on jurors is typically swayed one space by spending influence equal to the juror’s skepticism value.

Lawyer Up ends once all witnesses have been called and resolved; players perform “Closing Statements.” Players count up their claimed witnesses that have a bias symbol matching what is on their strategy card. The player with the most influence will get to spend the difference between the winning and losing player one last time on the jury. After closing statements, the game ends. The prosecution wins if every juror is on his or her side. The defense wins if one or more jurors on their side!

Lawyer Up feels similar to trading cards games so if one isn’t familiar with that there will be a learning curve. However, once grasped Lawyer Up is thematic back and forth two-player card game.

Finally, the artwork and diversity of the cards should be highlighted. It’s clear that the artist made an effort to highlight all different types of people. I’ve never seen a Sikh person in a board game and to see a turbaned Sikh man on a card was very cool!

If you’re looking for a courtroom drama themed two-player card game, I would check out Lawyer Up!