Though deckbuilding games have been around for a few years now, we haven’t seen many experienced eurogame designers dive into the category. Martin Wallace’s A Few Acres of Snow (2011) was a notable exception — and unsurprisingly one of the most distinct deckbuilder designs. Thus, I was very pleased to see Copycat (2012), by experienced euro designer Friedemann Friese.
Copycat is uniquely a game that combines worker placement mechanics and deckbuilder mechanics. After players have auctioned for initiative, they place workers on certain choice office spaces. Only afterward do they have the opportunity to purchase new cards and earn victory points.
The game works because its two parts are very symmetrical — a topic I’m going to return to shortly. The powers of the worker placement spaces and the powers of deckbuilt cards have a lot of overlap: either one can give a player money to spend, or let him draw cards, or earn him victory points. The worker placement spaces provide the unique ability to give players “buys” — which are required to actually make purchases — while the cards have several (slightly) more esoteric powers, and also offer the unique ability to give players more workers to place.
The entire goal of the game is to earn victory points. These show up whenever players place workers in victory point spaces, play victory point cards, or use worker placement spaces that were unpopular in recent rounds. At the end of the game, players may also get the opportunity to turn their last hand’s worth of money into victory points — though this can sometimes be blocked by other players.
No matter what sort of deck a player made, it’s the person who earned the most points over the course of the game who wins.