A Review of Platypus: A Cooperative Party Game

Platypus is a cooperative word game meant for larger groups of 3-8 people: it’s a party game!

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I picked this up from GameNerdz during one of my online orders.  It came out probably about mid 2022.

Unboxing

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Um, this is a party word game. There’s not much to unbox here: there is a little board to put word cards on, and a bunch of word cards.

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There are some numbered cards which describe the 8 positions on the board.

Mostly, there are word cards. There are two types of word cards: adjective cards (see above) and noun cards (see below).

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If you are starting to get a Apples to Apples vibe from the game, don’t ignore that vibe! I really think this is striving to be the cooperative Apples to Apples in many ways.

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Overall, the game has a cute cartoony platypus vibe. The cards are easy to read and the orange blue color palette is very distinctive without being too annoying.

Solo Play

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Solo play? What are you talking about? This is a party game!”

Oh yes, Platypus definitely needs at least 3 people to play! But, I always try to play every game solo at first, so I can teach my friends how to play. This game does not follow Saunders’ Law: it doesn’t have any solo mode, and it really can’t have such a mode. Even with something like the Changing Perspectives idea, you can’t really play this solo! Too much of the hidden information can only be gleaned from contextual implications: you can’t really just look at the board to make pure logical deductions.

Without a lot of work, you really can’t play this solo. But that doesn’t mean you can’t set it up to teach it to yourself! That’s what I did!

Gameplay

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The players divide into two groups: Guides and Explorers: basically, the Explorers (1 or 2 people, depending on the number of players) are trying to guess which of the eight noun cards is “the Platypus” (the hidden word) and the Guides (which are everybody else) are trying to help the Explorers find “the Platypus” using only the adjective cards they have.

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For example, one Guide might have the 7 adjective cards above as clues. After the Guide shows an adjective, the Explorers will need to eliminate one or two Nouns on the board: you can see the board below where the Explorers have been able to whittle down the board to only 3 Nouns!! Which is the final answer? What noun is “the Platypus”?

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There is a little strategy in being a Guide because you are always discarding cards, and you only draw back up when you get below 4 cards. So, you may want to reserve some better adjectives to when the noun is almost chosen.

Again, it feels a little like cooperative Apples to Apples: Guides play adjective cards to help Explorers guess noun cards.

Discussion

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Apples to Apples is a very apt comparison to Platypus. In Apples to Apples, a single Judge (like the Explorer) tries to choose the best match for the noun from the adjectives he gets (from many Guides): it’s a very subjective silly assessment! But, in Apples to Apples, if you have crappy words, you can just say “these suck” and just throw out a crappy card to the judge: sometimes complaining about how bad your cards are was the funnest part of the game! Or you can go for the funniest implications with the crappy cards you have! In Apples to Apples, you can still have fun with crappy cards!

And that’s the problem with Platypus: you can’t have fun with crappy cards! You are too constrained! Platypus is fun as long as The Guides have relevant adjectives to use. I remember being shocked that Guides started with eight adjective cards (“Wow, that’s a lot!”), but then I saw why: frequently, Guides get adjectives that are not really apropos! And Guides don’t get to draw back up to eight adjectives: they have to shrink down to three adjectives before they can draw more! Basically, if you get crappy cards, you are stuck with crappy cards! And then Platypus is NOT fun! It’s frustrating!

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Compare this to Codenames or So Clover or Just One where the players gets to choose words as clues! Any word they want!! Even when players get to choose any word in the English language, sometimes those games are still hard! But at least you feel like you have agency and choice. Now imagine you only have 4-8 words and they all suck! No fun. In a word, it was … Frustrating.

 

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House Rules

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I think some House Rules could help fix this game up a little.

A very simple rule to help: allow the Guides to always draw back up to 8 adjectives after they play an adjective card!! That way, the Guides always have 8 adjective cards! I feel like the game was the least fun when I had fewer adjective cards.

An addition of a some reset tokens would be useful: a Guide could discard one of the reset tokens to draw a brand new hand of adjectives!! You could make an “egg” be the one-time reset token, and turning it over would be a cracked egg! It would fit with the theme of the game! I guess each player would have one “egg” token which would allow them a one-time “redraw all my adjectives”. Heck, even Mysterium allows up to 3 clue redraws for the ghost … why can’t Platypus?

Conclusion

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Platypus is an okay cooperative party game: it’s not bad, but it’s not good. I’d recommend any of the Top 10 Cooperative Party Games on this list before Platypus. It just doesn’t feel like players have enough choice or agency for this to be fun.

I can’t recommend Platypus as it stands, because there’s so many other great cooperative party games which are better! BUT, having said that, I think with just a few tweaks (using some House Rules like we described previously), Platypus can be a lot more fun! Give the game a try with our House Rules: you may love Platypus with those changes applied!

2 thoughts on “A Review of Platypus: A Cooperative Party Game

  1. I don’t know if you’ve reviewed it yet, but a similar game is Whozit. We like that a lot! You get choose a sentence about the person you’re trying to get the others to guess, like “Likes to go to parties”, and then put a quantifier on it (definitely not, maybe,…) It’s hilarious seeing the others discussing whether Darth Vader or the pope would be more interested in going to parties…

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