Secret Santa w/ Felicitas Ivey

Gaming Central8


This month’s a game is actually a seasonal one, Secret Santa. Secret Santa is a card game of ‘competitive gift giving’ for 4 to 8 players from Osprey Publishing. The theme of the game is based on the Twelve Days of Christmas, with the song’s rings, people and various birds. The number of cards in the deck are opposite of the number of things named in the song and they are referred to as ‘gifts’ in the rules. For example, there is only one drummer drumming from the twelfth verse and twelve partridges from the first verse. And along with those cards, are special cards, like Santa or elves or even a Christmas Fruitcake to make the game interesting. The artwork of the cards leans towards silly rather than pretty, and the rules are well written.

The play is fairly simple and straightforward, it’s a game where the player wants to be the first one to get rid of their cards.  The game mechanics are to match the number of the cards, as well as how many cards are laid out by the first player. For example, the first player lays out three French hens with a value of three (3). The next person must play the same number of cards, three, but must be a higher value card, like golden rings (5) or swans a swimming (7).  The players continue the round until no player can top the last round. The discards are collated, and a new round is started. This continues until all the cards are gone. The person who manages to get rid of all their cards first is the winner. If it’s a tie, then the player with the highest card is the winner. The first player out gets the number of points equal to the number of people in the game. The game goes on until everyone manages to get rid of their cards, and the points are totaled.

Do this for several times and then declare the winner.

The special cards, like elves or the Fruitcake, are cards which spice up game play. When those cards are played depends on the symbol on the card. The Fruitcake is the card which starts the game, the player with this card starts the game and also has to give another player one of his cards. Elves are cards are wild cards which you can use to match cards in your hand. For example, if you’re short one goose, the elf card will be counted as a goose card. There are a number of cards which are played between rounds, doing things like giving back cards to players (Christmas Tree), can make players change spots (Christmas Carol), and a couple of cards which can stop the round when played (Santa and a mouse).

You shuffle and deal all the cards out. Rounds are plays. When a player gets down to their last card, they must announce “Final Gift” or they can’t go out that round by being barred from play, to give the other players a chance to stop them. If they have more than one card, they don’t have to say this. Not making this announcement was the main reason a lot of the people I was playing with didn’t win the round.

Secret Santa can be a quick or a long game, depending on the players and somewhat silly game. It’s good for all ages,  even though the recommended age is nine and up. The game play is somewhat like UNO, with the trick cards and object of getting rid of all your cards. I haven’t played it as often as I’ve liked, but the holidays are coming up and this is good to pass the time at family gatherings.


Author Bio:

Felicitas is a frazzled help-desk tech at a university in Boston who wishes people wouldn’t argue with her when she’s troubleshooting what’s wrong with their computer. She lives with three cats who wish she would pay more attention to them, and not sit at a computer pounding on the keyboard. They get back at her by hogging most of the bed at night and demanding her attention during the rare times she watches TV or movies. She’s protected by her guardian stuffed Minotaur, Angenor, who was given to her by her husband, Mark. Angenor travels everywhere with her, because Felicitas’s family doesn’t think she should travel by her lonesome. They worry she gets distracted and lost too easily. Felicitas doesn’t think of it a getting lost, more like having an adventure with a frustrated GPS.
Felicitas knits and hoards yarn, firmly believing the one with the most yarn wins. She also is sitting on hordes of books, which still threaten to take over her house, even with e-books. Between writing and knitting, she brews beer, wine, mead, and flavored liqueurs. Felicitas also bakes, making cakes whenever she needs to work out an issue in her novels. Sometimes this leads to a lot of cakes. Her coworkers appreciate them, though, with the student workers buzzing about on a sugar high most of the time.
Felicitas writes urban fantasy, steampunk, and horror of a Lovecraftian nature, with monsters beyond space and time that think that humans are the tastiest things in the multiverse. Occasionally there’s a romance or two involved in her writing, with a happily-ever-after.
Facebook: Felicitas Ivey
Twitter: @felicitasivey


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