Similo (A Review with Classroom Connections)


Similo is considered a cooperative deduction game where one player attempts to get his or her team to correctly identify the mystery card after eliminating all of the other cards based on clues. It was published by Horrible Guild Games in 2019 and is for two or more players ages seven plus. 

Similo proves that big fun can come in a small, if not the
best quality, package.

How It's Played

One player will act as the clue-giver. It will be her responsibility to guide the other players' thinking into eliminating all the cards that aren't the secret character. 

Who is the secret character? That's up to you. Sort of. The clue-giver will shuffle the thirty-card deck and and deal the first twelve cards in front of her. She will then take one card from the deck, take a peek, and commit it to memory before putting it back in the deck. Sounds like a second-rate card trick done by a hack magician, but it's more entertaining. After placing the card back with the other eleven cards, she will then shuffle thoroughly and place the cards face-up into three rows of four. Finally, she will take the top five cards from the remaining pile (the other eighteen cards that make up the game). These will be used as the clues.

This is an example of how the board would look right after the clue 
giver placed the first clue card. Who is the secret character? 
Well, we know he or she has something in common with 
Captain Hook, but what?!?! That's the fun!

The player will look at her hand of five cards and choose one that has something in common or different from the secret card. The similarities can range from being in the same story, being the same gender, having the same eye color, wearing a hat, etc. Or you can choose to go the opposite route and select a clue card that has something different from the secret card. However, as the clue-giver, you are not allowed to talk. You will let the other players know whether your card is alike or different from the secret card by how you place the clue card down. If it is placed vertically, like the other cards, that card has something in common with the secret card. If the clue-giver places the card horizontally, then the team should be looking for differences. Talking is permissible for the other players in order to decide which card(s) to flip over each round.

The clue-giver's hand of clue cards to choose from.

In the first round, players will have to choose one card to eliminate from the game. This is the tricky part. If the clue card is placed vertically, therefore having something similar to the secret card, the group will want to work out what the commonality might be and then look for a card that is different. If the clue card is placed to suggest having something different, then the team will look for a card that has something the same. 

Confused? Don't be. If the team is going to win, the secret card must be the last one remaining. So, if the cards are similar, the team should eliminate ones that appear different. If the clue card is different from the secret card, get rid of the characters that could be considered the same as the clue card. Easy peasy.

The team must now eliminate one card. As long as the secret character 
remains, the team will eliminate an extra card each round until there
are only two left. Don't get rid of the secret character!!!

If the secret card remains in the game after a single card has been eliminated, the team will move to round two. The clue-giver will draw another card in her hand and contemplate which card to give as a clue and whether the clue will be similar or different to the secret card.  But this time, the team will flip two cards instead of one. 

The clue-giver has said that the secret character has something
in common with Captain Hook. Is it his hat? Can't get rid of 
Aladdin, Pinocchio, or the Mad Hatter. Is it that he's a villain? 
Don't eliminate The Giant or the Big Bad Wolf. Is it the story
he's from? Peter Pan must remain! This group chose to flip 
over The Three Little Pigs, because they are animals and in
a group of three.

When players make it to round three, they will have to get rid of three cards. Round four requires the elimination of four cards. If the secret character manages to remain on the board after round four, the team will go into the fifth and final round.

There will only be two cards remaining in the fifth round. After the team banishes one of them, they will see whether they have achieved victory or suffered a miserable and embarrassing defeat. If the secret card stands alone on the table, the team has won. But they can't revel in their success too long. This is a quick game of ten minutes or less and deserves another game or two. 

My Thoughts

Similo is a fast-paced family game, perfect for playing while waiting for food at a restaurant or after dessert at home. You can even play it when you aren't eating! That's sarcasm. With how fast this game plays, it's almost always a perfect time to play. The box says for ages seven and older, but I've played it several times with my five year old with little coaching. The clue-giver might have to remind players of whether or not the clue card is similar or different from the secret card, but I don't think that helps with solving the puzzle, so it seems fair to me. The cards are fairly high quality and the artwork is fantastic. Personally, I sleeved my deck, but that was because I had the extras in that size. 

Who?!? Disney told me this man's name was Stromboli! 
Bunch of lying rats! At least the card is generous enough
to tell players from which story he belongs to.

This game of fables is not without a villain or two, however. Some of the characters are obscure (I'm looking at you, Mangiafuoco), so it's entirely possible for your team to not get the clue you're giving. The cards do have the story the character is from printed on the side, so it's not a fatal curse. The biggest failing this game has is in its packaging. Mine came in a simple cardboard box that is showing its age even though I've only had it five months or so. Not a deal breaker, but I do like it when the box maintains its looks. Let's face it, we all judge a book/game by its cover.

Sleeved, but they don't have to be. 
The cards fit even when they are sleeved, but barely.
While the cards are nice, the box leaves much to 
be desired.

Quick Points

           + Fun family game that will be enjoyed by even those with short attention spans.
           + The artwork is very well done.
           + Good with only two, but also with a large group.
           + Very affordable.
           - A couple obscure choices for characters.
           - Box leaves much to be desired.


Classroom Connection

This was a favorite card in my classroom. One student
in particular would always talk about how pretty she
was. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all.

This is one game that I have and will continue to use in my fourth grade classroom. I wanted to share with you what I've done.

Arrays- Multiplication can be difficult for some students to grasp, and while I am a firm believer that students should commit facts to memory, there are those that really struggle and need the help. Using arrays is an easy way to help them begin to think about how multiplication works (it's just repeated addition, after all). You can set up a game in its four-by-three grid and ask them how many cards are on the table. They might count them, but you can show them how to use it to multiply. You can then try larger arrays and even let students work together to build their own arrays and have a partner say how many cards are there using multiplication- this time and not counting. 

Compare and Contrast- This is the big one with this game. Students have to look carefully for how one card is similar and/or different from the others. It helps them build relationships with characters and shows them how two things can share many things in common or have even more diversities than they believed. You could give groups of students a few different cards and write down as many things in common as they can possibly think of and do the same thing with how they are different. It also helps students understand that compare means finding the similarities and contrast is finding what is different.

Critical Thinking- The fact that students will see that the clue card has something in common with the secret character, identify what it could be, and then have to look for a card that contrasts those possibilities, means that they have to think differently than how they are accustomed to. This type of thinking encourages problem solving.


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