In all honesty, I was actually pretty sure I’d have fun with designer John J Coveyou and publisher Genius Games’ Linkage: A DNA Card Game. I love me some a-typical theming in my board games (as is probably obvious by now), and we really had a good time with his other sciency offerings, Peptide and ION. Constructing RNA/DNA chains is right up my decidedly bizarre alley, and this is a small box game, which is always a plus in my book.
So it was kinda disappointing to come away from the game with an overwhelming sense of “meh.”
Like all of Genius Games’ science-based offerings, Linkage is functionally quite easy to pick up and play, despite being about genetic manipulation on a molecular level. It’s a simple matter of playing RNA cards that match whatever DNA card is revealed at the beginning of a round (it’s simple color-matching, really). This won’t always be possible, however, as your hand may be decidedly lacking in whatever color you might need. That’s where other actions such as replacing incorrect cards with better ones or stealing cards from an opponent come into play.
Diana: That still didn’t make things very exciting.
Rob: Things weren’t any kind of exciting.
Diana: Ouch. But yeah.
I honestly thought I was going to like this game but there just isn’t much to it. The theme is certainly interesting, and it’s incredibly accessible. The problem is that, once accessed, there simply isn’t all that much to keep you engaged. You match cards, sometimes you play other cards to maybe match cards better, and if you’re feeling particularly cheeky, you can spend extra cards in your hand to take additional actions. Coveyou is usually pretty great at turning scientific processes into interesting games, but unfortunately, this one falls a bit flat.
None of this makes Linkage a bad game, but it doesn’t make it a particularly memorable one either. It’s filler that isn’t very filling. If you’re looking to get your science on in board game form, you’d be much better off with other Genius Games releases like Peptide or ION, both of which are solid.
(Thanks to Genius Games for giving us our copy of Linkage for review. Their generosity didn’t influence our opinions)