GTM #203 - The Blood of an Englishman
Reviewed by Rebecca Kaufeld

The story of Jack and the Beanstalk has been told a thousand times. From generation to generation, he rose from folklore to legend: as the courageous lad who bested the terrible giant (and rescued three very impressive items in the process), he became the hero of centuries of young, imaginative children everywhere.

The giant, however, went down in history as a towering, lumbering fool who was easily outwitted by Jack’s cleverness.

In Blood of an Englishman, the new two-player game from Renegade Game Studios, players have the opportunity to rewrite history as either Jack or the Giant. Each one must collect pieces of the puzzle to create the story again: will the victor be Jack, who successfully rearranges the beanstalks and escapes with the enchanted objects (the goose, gold, and harp) in the nick of time? Or will it be the Giant, whose mighty “FEE FI FO FUM” finally frightens Jack’s wits away, and continues to strike fear into the hearts of Englishmen to come?

Play begins with five beanstalks, each a combination of treasures, Giant cards, and numbered stalk pieces. The premise is simple: either Jack builds three of his own beanstalks, steals away with three treasures, and escapes, or the giant successfully rearranges his own FE-FI-FO-FUM cards and captures Jack for dinner (Yum!).

This may sound unbalanced — after all, it seems like Jack has to accomplish a lot more in order to win. However, Jack is a wee lad with a bag of tricks, and he can run and hide faster than the Giant can move. His actions are small, but effective: move a card from the front of one stalk to another, or pull a card from the back of a stalk to the front of the same stalk. Not only does this allow him to find the cards he needs, but shuffles the layout to frustrate the Giant’s plans.

Jack also has the ability to move cards from the main stalks to his own, personal beanstalks in numbered sequence, simulating the climb from earth to the castle in the sky. When he reaches the top of his current stalk, he can rescue one of the three treasures and carry it back home, getting one step closer to keeping his title as the hero of this story.

And, finally, as if all of that wasn’t enough, Jack has one more trick up his sleeve: the opening move. The Giantess’ Protection allows him to select any card and move it within the five beanstalks. It sounds like a simple move, but it has two strategic uses: it benefits Jack’s own game and grants easy access to a difficult card, or it can be used as a minor inconvenience to the Giant by burying a FEE-FI-FO-FUM card.

(After all, he did climb through the window and surprise the Giant. It only makes sense that he should have the first move.)

The Giant, on the other hand, is large and cumbersome… but powerful. Whereas Jack only moves one card at a time, the Giant can move two cards individually, or four cards as a group from one stalk to another. He also has the option of discarding cards, and can force Jack to move quickly, lest he lose the card he needs to succeed.

When all four FEE-FI-FO-FUM cards are arranged either horizontally or vertically over the front of four stalks or standing tall within one of them, the Giant has won; despite all of Jack’s struggles, the story will change forever!

Blood of an Englishman gives players the opportunity to rewrite history as an infamous fable turns upside down in a battle for the beanstalks: will Jack, the boy thief, prove his victory once again? Or will the Giant finally succeed, and replace Jack as the people’s hero?

Only you can decide. Good luck, and may the best player win!

Fast Facts:

  • Two players
  • Ages 10 & up
  • 30-minutes or less
When a whirlwind of whimsical words beckoned from worlds away, Rebecca knew she had to follow. She fell into a rabbit hole of metaphors and cliches, mixed with more similes than water drops in a storm. Somewhere along the way, she picked up a love of games that would use her words to create beautiful reviews, and that's where she is today.