One of my favourite movies of all time is The Princess Bride, and one of the most memorable scenes from that movie, is the battle of wits. The Dread Pirate Roberts and Vizzini sit across from each other with two wine goblets in between them. One contains deadly poison, and the other, well (spoiler alert) also contains poison. The fun of the scene is watching Vizzini speculate over which cup signals certain death and why. When playing Raise Your Goblets, the deadly new party game from CMON and Horrible Games, you’ll find yourself asking the very same questions.
Designer Tim Page, is also a fan of The Princess Bride and speculated that on some level he must have garnered some of his influence from it. Raise Your Goblets originally was named Toast. It went up on Kickstarter, but failed to fund. After some tweaking with the rules and the introduction of individual character cards, it’s been released to pretty solid success.
The setting is a dinner party in the land of Otravia. Nobles have gathered together to select the next King, but there is a definite difference in opinion about who should ascend to the throne.
Each player has an opaque goblet in front of them with a coloured ring on its base and a supply of poison, antidote, and wine in the form of plastic gems behind their screen. They will also be dealt a target card, indicating who they really want to kill that round.
On a turn, players get two actions. They can pour wine, poison, or antidote into any goblet around the table, swap their goblet with someone else’s, rotate all the goblets, or peek into their own cup. If they have no wine left at the start of their turn, they can instead call a toast. This signifies the end of the round. Players get one more, single action, then everyone ‘drinks’. You flip your goblet over and see if you survived the course. Each antidote you have, eliminates a poison. If you still have poison left, unfortunately, you’re dead. The good news is, it’s still possible to earn some points.
Players get points for living through the course, killing their target (plus a bonus if they do both), and having the most wine. After three courses, whoever has earned the most points will be named the new king, until, y’know, the next dinner party.
Adding a layer of complexity, are the character cards. These allow players to bend the rules of the existing game, like Lady Hemlock, who can peek into any goblet, not just her own, or Handmaid Amanita, who has the ability to rotate goblets two spaces, instead of just one. Players can keep the same abilities over all three courses, but I find it much more fun to switch them up each round. It gives you a chance to try different strategies.
There are a few different variants that I haven’t had a chance to try yet, like taking the coloured rings off the goblets, so you really have to concentrate on what goes where (only recommended for masochists), and the team version, which allows up to 12 people play.
I have had a lot of success with Raise Your Goblets. It’s such a visceral, tactile experience, that even non-gamers will very quickly grasp what they’re trying to do. The rounds are fast and fun, and the different characters offer enough variety that each game feels fresh.
Definitely give Raise Your Goblets a shot! It’s the most fun you’ll have killing your friends.