PUSH Review
PUSH Review

PUSH Review

👈🏻 Back to Reviewed Games

Designed by Prospero Hall

Release Year: 2018 Complexity: Low

  👥  2-6 Players   ⏰  15-30 min   💸 ~$15   🔗  Buy

Overview

PUSH is a game of pushing your luck to try to collect the most colored point cards. On your turn, you reveal cards from the deck one at a time, adding them to one of three stacks, but no card of the same color or number can be placed in the same stack. You can stop at any time and select one pile to keep for yourself, but the remaining piles are then drafted by players going clockwise. However, if you choose to continue and draw a card that can’t be placed legally in any of the three stacks, then you bust, losing all cards of a randomly rolled color and still allowing the stacks to be drafted by your opponents.

On future turns, you also have the option to “bank” a color instead of pushing, sacrificing the opportunity for new cards for the safety of protecting point cards from being lost. Play continues until the deck is depleted, and point cards are then totaled to determine the winner.

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Game Feel

There are two different layers of push-your-luck in PUSH. The first is when you are drawing cards from the deck, trying to make one really good pile, while being careful to avoid busting. However, it isn’t just the risk of busting that makes you hesitant, but also the fact that adding additional point cards to more than one stack is only going to benefit your opponents, as they get to draft the stacks that you don’t pick. If you have one stack that is looking pretty good, do you risk giving your opponents good cards just to try to get a few extra points? The second layer of push-your-luck comes on future turns where you must decide if you will push for more cards, or just take a turn off to save all cards of a color. How many points are you willing to accumulate in a color and still leave them at risk of getting wiped out?

This risk is amplified by the special “die” card. It follows the same rules of only allowing one per stack while pushing, but it is actually a negative effect as it requires you to roll the die and lose all cards of that color — the same consequence as busting on your own turn. This means that, not only can you lose cards by busting on your own turn, but you could also be forced to roll when drafting stacks on another player’s turn. Conversely, you can try to build up stacks on your turn that give your opponents no choice but to roll the die.

Most of these decisions fall into the category of “go with your gut,” where players rarely fully process the odds, but rather make choices on the spot based on how they feel. Players won’t likely win if they don’t take risks to go after more point cards, but they also probably won’t win if they always take big risks. It is a light exercise in balancing risk and conservative play to put yourself in a position to win.

FAQ

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Player Counts - A lot of the fun of PUSH is the playful banter around the table, which is something that is more common with three or more players. Higher player counts mean that not every player can draft a stack each turn, but the inclusion of “reverse” cards helps remedy this as they reverse the drafting order when drawn, so any player has the potential of getting a stack on almost every turn.

Abstract vs. Thematic - With just colored cards and a name that is literally a callout of the primary mechanism, there is no theme to be found here.

Luck vs. Skill - Ultimately, the outcome of PUSH is overwhelmingly determined by luck. There are still fun decisions, but don’t expect your strategy to reliably lead to victory.

Multiplayer Solitaire vs. Highly Interactive - The game is fairly interactive in the group dynamic it creates and the way you build your three stacks directly affects other players, but most decisions to push your luck aren’t heavily influenced by other players.

Short Setup vs. Long Setup - The setup is about as trivial as possible, just shuffle the deck and start playing.

Easy to Teach vs. Hard to Teach - While the rules for building up the three stacks on your turn are a little more to understand than other super-light card games, it is still very easy to teach and for players to pick up as you go.

Low Setup Variability vs. High Setup Variability - The shuffling of the deck ensures every turn is unique, but the feel from game to game remains very similar despite this randomization.

Things to Like

✅  Solid Core Pushing Mechanism - Almost all of the interest in the game hinges on the core process for pushing your luck on each turn, and fortunately, the system works really well. Not only are you pushing to try to gain the most points yourself, but you also have the tension of wanting to avoid giving your opponents good cards. But maybe you don’t mind making two good stacks, just to give you options, especially if you don’t think the first opponent to draft is winning. The die roll cards add a great twist here as they give you a way to make stacks worse, and also introduce the risk of needing to put a die card on the stack you intend to take. The system also supports unlikely situations like a player drawing a near-perfect stack of different numbers and colors or having a really unlucky turn, busting with just four cards drawn. These edges of the luck spectrum help facilitate a fun energy around the table.

✅  Quick and Exciting Pace - Because decisions are largely made from the gut instead of a deep assessment of the probabilities, the game tends to move really quickly. Every few seconds a new card is drawn, players have the opportunity to gain cards, or someone needs to roll the die with all opponents cheering for a big stack of points to be lost. Unlike more strategic games, there is very little time waiting on other players to think about the current game state.

✅  Drafting Keeps Players Involved - In addition to the quick play, players are also invested outside of their own turn because there is the chance they will get to draft a leftover stack of cards. Just as the active player is excitedly wishing for the perfect cards to be drawn, all of the opponents are hoping for them to be forced into leaving some attractive options or having the draft order reversed to benefit them. All of this keeps everyone way more engaged than if a player’s turn only affected themselves.

✅  Special Cards Add Some Spice - There are only two special cards in the game, the die roll and the reverse, but it is just enough to add a little spice and interest to the core formula. The die card is crucial for introducing negative value to stacks and fills the important role of introducing risk on other players’ turns, making the option to bank cards to keep them safe an important consideration. The reverse card makes sure that players on either side of the active player are invested, and can also be funny as it switches back and forth and you may or may not want to draft depending on whether the remaining stacks will have positive or negative value.

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Things to Dislike

❌  Repeat Plays Feel Similar - PUSH is the kind of game that has an initial novelty factor, and then quickly settles into a “comfort food” experience where you have seen most of what the game has to offer. That core experience can continue to create the group dynamic as advertised, but don’t expect to be surprised by many new situations or strategies after you have played it a few times. And the game really is boiled down to that push-your-luck mechanism, so there isn’t much here if you don’t find that compelling.

❌  Banking Is Less Fun Than Pushing - The real risk of losing all cards of a color means that banking cards is usually important for a winning strategy. That said, the fact is that spending a turn to bank is just less fun than playing the little push-your-luck mini-game. The game usually moves quickly enough that it will be your turn again soon, but it is a downside common with push-your-luck games that sometimes choosing less fun is the right strategic decision.

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Our Ratings

Ryan (26 Plays) - 7 Daniel (7 Plays) - 7

🎬 Watch Extended Final Thoughts

Is It For You?

If you don’t enjoy pushing your luck or want a little more strategy, even in your accessible card games, then PUSH may not hit the mark. 👎

But if you want a simple card game that you can play with anyone, you want a light experience that encourages playful banter, and you want something that teaches quickly and plays well from 3 to 6 players, then PUSH is definitely worth a look. 👍

🛒  Check Out PUSH on Amazon