Inka & Markus Brand





Finally you have reached your destination, a beautiful island in the Pacific where you are planning to enjoy your holidays. Sunbathing at the beach, drinking a Cocktail - it all would be perfect if not for that annoying other player who always wants to be first in enjoying these pleasures!

This new KOSMOS two-player cardgame leads the players onto a tropical island where they have to define their holiday activities by playing activity cards. In total, 14 kinds of activity cards exist in the game (showing everything belonging to a perfect holiday - swimming, sunbathing etc), each card featuring either a point value or a multiplicator which will be used for scoring victory points. At the beginning of the game, all activity cards are shuffled and separated into three decks of 10 cards each. The first card of each deck is revealed and placed openly next to the deck. Each of the players receives two of the remaining four activity cards as as starting hand, and furthermore each player is given a set of 15 trade counters which he may use to purchase activity cards. There are five kinds of trade counters like shells or coconuts, and a player has three counters of each kind.

During his turn, a player most often will resort to purchasing and placing activity cards. If he goes for this action, he first may purchase one of the revealed activity cards and then place one or more of the cards he has on his hand at the playing area on the table. To purchase a card, a player has to pay trade counters shown on the backside of the next face down card of each respective deck (this actually serves the purpose of keeping the front sides free of purchase symbols, and for having a different price for each card. To have a price for the last card in each deck, a special card is placed at the bottom of each deck which only shows a backside for purchase reasons).

As said, a player then may place any of the cards he now has on his hand (up to a maximum of five cards) into the open playing area. At the beginning of the game, this playing area is totally empty, but during the game more and more cards will be placed. After the first card have been placed, all additional cards must be placed next to an already placed card. However, as you might have guessed, certain rules have to be observed for the placement of cards. Thus, some of the cards show not only an activity but also one or two smaller images of other activties, and these cards may only be placed next to an already placed card showing one of these specific activities. Only if this precondition is met, such a card may be placed, and as a further restriction the players have to observe that the final playing area may not be bigger than a rectangle of 6 times 5 cards. Thus, it gets more and more difficult during the game to place a new card at a valid position.

As indicated, each card either gives a point value or a multiplicator. If a card has a point value, the player who successfully adds it to the playing area will receive this value as victory points. On the other hand, if the card shows a multiplicator, this card will have to be placed next to a specific activity card and if the player successfully can play the card he will receive victory points according to multiplying the value of the already placed card with the value of his newly added multiplier. This way, a multiplicator which actually could be placed next to two fitting cards may score twice!

Once all three open cards from the decks were purchased, one new card will be revealed from each deck so that the players get new purchase options. However, during the course of the game the players will slowly run out of trade counters, and thus, instead of purchasing and playing cards, a player also may take back all of his already used trade counters. Furthermore, a player even may refrain from acting at all if it suits his strategic planning, and if both players have passed in unison, the current deck of revealed acticity cards is discarded and replaced with newly drawn cards from each deck

The game ends after the turn in which the last activity card was purchased. Each card remaining on a player's hand now causes a deduction of 5 victory points, and the game will be won by the player with most victory points.

Already the presentation of the game in colours of blue, yellow and white is pleasant like a tropical breeze, and the gameplay itself pretty much continues this trend. Despite the basically strategic orientation of the game, it plays surprisingly light and fluent, without too much thinking time needed on side of either player. Only at the end of the game, when it gets more and more difficult to place cards, players will need more time to think about possible uses for each of their hand cards and whether it might be sensible to purchase yet another card.

A very nice feature of the game is the fact that a player may decide to refrain from playing a just purchased card and thus may play more than one card in a following turn, and this actually may lead to a major scoring which can considerably bolster a player's current score of victory points. However, keeping good cards to score such a "jackpot" usually is not too risky, since for a good part of the game there is a lot of space where cards can be put. Still, in the end of will get tight for both players, and here it pays off to try to plan ahead for a turn or two.

To sum it up, I consider Summer Time a nice addition to the KOSMOS-series of two-player games, and this not only because it kindles fond memories of my last holidays on Rhodes. The game very well continues the trend begun with other titles of the KOSMOS series like Lost Cities to offer light games which can be started or - after a longer break - re-learned very fast, and due to its interesting playing mechanism and unusual topic it will definitely remain part of my playing collection.

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2006 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany