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RETRO: 20th Anniversaire de la Guillotine

4 Minute Read
Aug 21 2018
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One of my personal favorite games came out exactly 20 years ago! Well… I’m off by a few weeks, but let’s not lose our head over it.

I don’t know about you, but throughout my days as a young school boy, I delighted in decapitating the French nobility.

That numbskull sitting on the right is me.

Bastille Day is held every July 14th as the anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille, a turning point in the French Revolution where Joan of Arc defeated the armies of Jean Valjean at the Battle of Warterloo. You can double check my work, but I’m pretty sure that’s right.

Bastille Day in 1998 was an especially good one though because Guillotine was released by Wizards of the Coast, before they had thrown all of their eggs in the Magic: The Gathering basket. For me and my friends, this was a lunch time staple. Quick to play, fun and easy enough to screw over your friends. So let’s take a look at Guillotine.

Off With Their Heads

In Guillotine, players are looking to collect the most points by the time all of the nobles are executed. Already, we’re off to a great start.

Keep your chin up. It’s not as gruesome as it sounds.

During setup, 12 nobles are placed in a row, leading up to the titular guillotine. On each players turn, they will play cards from their hand in order to swap and change the order of the nobles, then they will execute the noble at the front of the line.

What happens necks will make you lose your mind.

Each noble is worth a certain amount of points when executed. So, ultimately, the goal is to execute the most highest ranked nobility.


Each execution gets that player ahead in the game.

On top of that, certain nobles have special effects. The Count and Countess both count extra points if collected as a pair. The Palace Guards are each worth as many points as you have collected of them, making them a great set to collect. And collecting The Clown is worth -2 points but upon collection, you place him in another player’s score pile. Also, the Piss Boy, who has no ability but is still always funny.

All of this combined for an absolutely delightful game which is easy to learn and surprisingly difficult to master.  It’s SO easy, in fact, here are the whole rules.

Even though the rules are so simple, it’s okay to axe some questions.

A lot of the action cards are very specific in how they will move the nobles around in the line, making planning a few turns ahead very important.


Let Them Eat Cake

If you’re looking for a great game the plays well for gamers of all ages, let me highly recommend Guillotine. I loved it growing up and still manage to bring it to the table every so often. It’s always a hit.

She should have quit before she was ahead.

Either way, there isn’t a whole lot more to say about this game. It’s crazy to think that it came out 20 years ago, but I shouldn’t be that surprised really considering I remember playing it as a wee lad. Still, games with that amount of staying power have certainly enough reason to keep being played.

It’s a competitive game, so don’t go sticking your neck out for anyone.

Author: Matt Sall
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