Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Year Made: 1998
Platforms: Tabletop - Card Game; also on web browser
Content Areas: Social Studies
Suggested Age Level: Middle School, High School
Play Length: 30 minutes
Number of Players: 2-5
Difficulty Rating: Easy
Guillotine is a card game based on the French Revolution where the goal is to collect as many heads as possible during each execution day. Players take turns bumping characters up in line toward the guillotine or pulling them back so they can earn more points on higher-ranking officials and avoid penalties on executing martyrs. At the end of three days, the player with the most points wins!
The only awkward challenge to Guillotine comes in physically moving the cards around the line. At times, the line reverses or cards move back five spaces or forward four. When there are twelve cards all lined up and suddenly they all have to move, it’s slightly inconvenient to move them around. There is a version of Guillotine online that can be played as well, but only against a computer opponent. Even with the hassle of moving the physical cards, it is well worth it to play against multiple in-person opponents.
The game features several notable figures in the French Revolution including King Louis, Marie Antoinette, and Robespierre, making Guillotine and its historical context a great choice for a social studies class. It provides several great starting points for discussion, such as “How was the church involved in the Revolution?” when they see that religious leaders are also on the chopping block. The inclusion of specific historic figures can also be the starting point for researching who they were in history. Players could even add cards featuring other notable figures to the game, allowing them to become creators as well as players.
Guillotine is a fun, quick game that is right at home in a social studies class during the French Revolution. When players start the game, it won’t be long until you hear your students exclaiming, “Off with their heads!”
Educational Rating: 7/8
(Classroom Tech Friendly, Motivation, Concrete Learning, Additional Skills, Feedback, Difficulty, Accessibility, Extension)
Overall Rating: 7/8
(Immersion, Environment, Storyline, Replayability, Entertainment, Gameplay, Originality, User Control)