Elevenses is card game where players attempt to create the best spread for their morning tea. It works with two to four players ages 10 and up and plays in about 30 minutes.

The game is designed by David Harding with art by T.J. Lubrano. It’s published by Grail Games and retails for $15.

How it works:

Each player has a deck of 11 cards with backs of his own color. Players place eight of their cards face down in front of them in two rows. This forms their “spread.” They keep three cards in their hand to form a “kitchen.”

Each card has a number, and to be played, it must be put in the correct position. On their turn, players can either play a card from their hand to the proper position in the spread, exchanging it for the face-down card; or they may rearrange two cards, moving a card from their hand to any position in the spread but leaving it face down.

Each card that is played face up requires an action, which can range from being able to look at all the cards in your spread to passing cards to the players.

Half the cards have two spoons, which represent points, and half have one. There are two special cards, and to end a round a player must play the “Elevenses” card. The player with the most points wins a sugar cube or two (depending on the number of players), as do any players who played their No. 1 card.

The game ends when one player has five sugar cubes. That person is the winner.

Why you might buy Elevenses:

Lubrano’s artwork is lovely, and it makes the game not just fun to play, but fun to play with.

The movement of cards from player to player and the memory elements of the game offer surprising challenges from a game that is, at its heart, quite simple.

Players having different card backs means you can better tell what someone might have played where, which adds to the intrigue of the game.

There is a lot of push and pull in Elevenses. It might, for example, be to your benefit to end a round even if you don’t have the most points. And playing a card with more spoons will put you at greater risk of losing a card you want to keep.

The game plays especially well with four players, but it’s solid with two and three, as well.

Why you might not buy Elevenses:

If you’re expecting a game that makes you feel like you’re actually creating a morning tea, this won’t do it. The theme is nice, but it could have been anything.

If you don’t like games where you’ll be stealing — and stolen from — this may frustrate you. Thwarting other players is a key to this game.

If you hate memory games, Elevenses won’t be for you.

There is an included expansion where specific people will come to your tea if you have the right items in your spread. There are only six, which means you can get the same card in the same game, and since they only give two points, it doesn’t  feel like much is added to the game.

My conclusions:

This is a perfect family game. It’s fun. There’s lots of back and forth. It’s easy to learn but not so easy to play well.

The theme, though not terribly important to the game, is unique and makes for a very pretty game, which isn’t easy to find.

Elevenses will keep me coming back for the surprises and the fun.

Full disclosure: I received a review copy of Elevenses from Grail Games. I was not required to write a positive review. These are my honest opinions.