CV Pocket (BGG Link) is a new small box card game designed by Filip Miłuński with art by Piotr Socha and published by Granna, and distributed by Passport Game Studios in the US. CV Pocket condenses a player’s whole life down to a fifteen minute drafting and set collection game for two to four players. Who can make the best life for them self? Let’s find out!
In CV Pocket you take turns drafting cards from a tableau of fifteen cards. As you take a card those above it drop to fill in the gap and when the display gets down to four cards it is refilled.
On your turn you may either take one card or pass. You may only take a card from the row dictated by transportation type on the previous card that you drafted.
The goal of CV Pocket is to collect various symbols which all score points in different ways at the end of the game. When all players consecutively pass, the game is over. Different types of symbols score points in various ways, for example the player with the most happiness scores two points per symbol while the player with the least bad luck scores two points for each of those symbols. Points are added up on the included score sheet and the one who has the most points has had the best life (and is consequently the winner).
CV Pocket comes in a sturdy box with a vac-formed insert that holds all of the components very well. The cards are a somewhat thin card stock, but shuffle well and they have a high quality linen finish. Also included are a score sheet pad and a small pencil.
The artwork has a New Yorker magazine vibe and is somewhat humorous in nature,
depicting all of the various aspects of life that the cards lay out. It is the same style as the full CV board game.
The insert conveys the how the game is played with well-written rules that have great illustrative examples.
I’ll start my review by stating that I have not played the original CV. In preparation for this review I did watch an overview of CV since it is inevitable that the “pocket” version of a game be compared to the original.
CV Pocket is a light fast card drafting game that implements a restriction on which cards can be drafted. In and of itself, table drafting for set collection isn’t incredibly innovative, but placing a restriction on the draft, especially one based on a previous collected card is a great way to introduce some decision making and some player interaction into the mix. In most games like this the players really only focus on their own tableau and which card they will take next, but placing the restriction on choice of draft pick means that a player can actually impact another player in more than one way. For example, if there are two 2-card columns and one 3-card column, I might choose to take a card from the 3-card column because my opponent has a “3” meaning he would only be able to draft from the third row. If I take a card from that column, it becomes a 2-card column and now my opponent will be forced to pass the turn back to me. I enjoy the tension that the game provides in giving that restriction to your next pick and the player interaction that breeds. I would say that in the first couple of games that likely won’t be a consideration, but as the players become more familiar with the cards and have more time to look at their opponent’s tableau, it will definitely come into play.
From my viewpoint the only negative is that the people I played the game weren’t clamoring to play it again. “It was fine, but I wouldn’t ask to play it” is something that I heard from more than one person. Additionally, the theme is really just pasted onto a relatively generic set collection game. At least one player mentioned that they literally only saw symbols and numbers and didn’t register card names or artwork at all. This isn’t a bad thing so long as you are fine with an abstract game with a pasted-on theme, which I generally am.
Comparison to CV
I did watch a review of CV to make sure that I could speak to how this pocket version compares, and though I haven’t played the regular CV game, I think Pocket CV is a fairly faithful representation of the full game that has you collecting symbols to earn points. Instead of the scoring system being variable like in the full game, CV Pocket has a static scoring approach which works just fine for a small-scale, fast-playing game like this. CV Pocket is faithful to the original in art concept as well, as they used the same artist for both.
Personally, I have quite a few games that fall into the light/fast category and CV doesn’t really scratch any itches that I have at the moment. That said, I do like the game and I think that if you like CV, then you will likely enjoy CV Pocket as a way to get a similar experience in a much shorter game experience that takes much less time to set up. In general if you like set collection in a small-box filler game, then you could do a whole lot worse than having CV Pocket on your shelf.