Guillotine: A Bloody Good Time

Guillotine Game

I find it only fitting that after returning from a nice vacation in France I review a game based on the gory French Revolution.  Nothing says fun like lobbing off the heads of tax collectors, wealthy priests, bad nuns, palace guards and a variety of evil nobles!  Vive la France!

How to Play

In the card game Guillotine, players represent rival guillotine operators vying to behead the most prestigious nobles, clergy, civic leaders and famous historic characters like Robespierre in order to earn points and gain popularity with the bloodthirsty crowd.  Marie Antoinette and King Louis will fetch you 5 points whereas the lowly Royal Cartographer and Piss Boy are only worth 1 point.

During three rounds, which represent three days of beheadings, a line of characters head to the guillotine.  At the end of every turn you will lob off the head of the first person in line, but the line isn’t set in stone.  You have action cards that cause chaos and milling about.  Each turn you have the option to play one of your action cards and hopefully it will move a more valuable noble to the front of the line for you to collect.  Maybe the Count trips, a lady in waiting faints and is sent to the back of the line or the Duke insist on going next because he’s royalty.   Throughout the three “days” the action cards help you accumulate points and avoid pitfalls like beheading an innocent victim or the Hero of the People, which will cost you valuable points.

My Thoughts

Guillotine provides a small lesson in French history and it also challenges you to spend some time planning out your future turns.  For example, if you manage to behead a whole slew of palace guards, their point value goes up.  And there are ways to end the day early, but you really have to pay attention to the points your opponents have racked up and it’s best to keep track of the nobles that didn’t get beheaded and instead ended up in the discard pile.  So it’s not a mindless game; it’s got some strategy mixed with a really funny topic.  (Not funny if you were there, but the drawings on the cards just crack me up!)

This game was invented by Paul Peterson and was released on Bastille Day in 1998  (*trivia question: do you know when Bastille Day is?) but it’s still pretty easy to find online or at small game stores – usually ones that focus on roll playing games since it’s manufactured by Wizards of the Coast which is probably best known for Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons. (*it’s July 14..a good day for baguettes, champagne and escargots!)

Guillotine Stats

~$12-$15 at Guillotine on Amazon and local game stores (call first)
2-5 Players
~15-30 Minutes (Depending on the number of players)
Ages 12 and up


Add yours
  1. Daniel Poole

    My family and I love this game. We used to play it all the time. Its not expensive, has fairly high replay value, and can be learned really fast. It’s a fun game for all ages but I must admit we don’t call it Guillotine, we have another name for it “piss boy” lol :-p

  2. Lee

    We always play Guillotine with newbies to “real” games. I also take it to school and play it with my elementary-age students (though I take out “Piss Boy” when I do – just don’t want to go down that aisle).

    Often times, when playing with my students they start asking questions about the French Revolution and I explain some of the political reasons why some cards are worth more points than others.

    It’s not an expensive game and it’s worth hours of fun…worth every penny.

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