This excellent card game was published by Waddingtons a few months ago with hardly a murmur. That it appears to be a modified design by Eamon Bloomfield of an older German game should have at least earned it a review in Sumo. Well, this is it.

The robust deck provided includes 77 cards of varying types including numbers (from zero to seven), wild cards, which immediately adjust the total to zero, 10 or 21, and action cards which switch the order of play, prompt a redeal, pick-up, etc. Players are dealt 10 cards and provided with a little gizmo which contains five mobile "Oscar"-styled men (the "lives" in the title). These are raised to an upright position and subsequently flattened if you are the silly sod whose card raises the current total above 21, or if another participant plays all of his cards.

Play proceeds clockwise until a card instructs otherwise. Normal procedure sees the total rise rapidly (by means of the number cards) until someone "bottles it" and plays a "zero", "10" or "21". Possession of a few zeros provides an advantage, but otherwise there is no little skill in deciding when to play the action cards. One can look particularly daft, for example, when after smugly laying a "21" card the play returns to you by means of a "Reverse Order" card. The hand continues until only one player is left with "lives".

5 Alive is attractively packaged and comes with a sturdy plastic box to house the components. I have but one question. Where's the credit, Eamon?

Mike Clifford

On to the review of Manhattan or back to the review of Guerilla.

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