For the 12 Days of Xmas my true love gave to me…a brand new Calliope game!

Recommended Age:8+
Our Recommended Age:6+
Play Time:15 - 20 minutes
Contents:92 Cards, Instructions
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Calliope has once again put out a great family game that’s fun for adults and easy enough for kids to join without adjusting the game (also a lot of fun for kids too!). It’s like other trick-taking card games but has some interesting twists that make for an exciting game with a surprising amount of strategy.

The game plays with 3 – 5 players although if you pick up two copies it can support up to 8! Calliope recommends ages 8 and up although the Diva is able to do a great job at 6. She loves giving “presents” to the Gentleman and tends to think she is being sneaky hehe.

12 Days has very simple components – a small lift-top lid box with a card stock insert and room for two stacks of cards inside. The cards are standard coated playing-style cards, 12 of which represent each of the 12 days of Christmas and act as score markers during the game. The other 80 are the Gift Cards and are the cards used for taking tricks and giving presents.

The artwork for 12 Days is fantastic. It’s both perfect for the theme and very unique. All 12 days of the song The 12 Days of Christmas are represented as stained glass windows and look absolutely stunning while playing. More than once I’ve found myself distracted inspecting the artwork instead of actually focusing on playing the game.

Now, on to playing the game!


Winning 12 Days is pretty straightforward: after 12 rounds – one for each of the 12 days – whoever has the most points wins!


Setting up 12 Days is quick and simple. Arrange the 12 Holiday Cards in order from 1 to 12. Shuffle the Gift Cards and deal 12 out to each player. Place the remaining cards in the center of the table to use as a draw pile. Since everyone plays at the same time, you don’t need to worry about first player or anything like that.


12 Days is broken up into 12 rounds. The rounds all play the same but increase in point value as you go up through the days. Each round is broken up into three phases: Gift Giving, Playing a Card and Drawing a Card.

The Gift Giving phase is fairly simple: each player passes a card from their hand to the player on the left. Each player ends up still having 12 cards when the next phase begins. While it may seem obvious to just get rid of the worst card in your hand but the scoring at the end of the game means there’s more strategy than that. We’ll get to that in a bit.

The next phase is Playing a Card. Each player chooses a single card from their hand and places it face down on the table. When all the players have chosen a card the cards are revealed and you figure out who won the trick. Normally the lowest number wins the trick unless there’s a tie. When two or more players tie for the lowest number that number is ignored and you move on to the next lowest number. If all the players are tied in some way or another then no one wins that round and the next round gets both Holiday Cards.

The only other trick is if someone plays one of the 0 cards: Mr. and Mrs. Clause. If a player wins using a 0 instead of keeping that Holiday Card for themselves they instead have to give it to another player. Just like the other values though, the two 0 cards can cancel each other out.

Finally, time to Draw a Card… so that’s it, draw a card. If the draw pile is empty, shuffle the previously played cards and create a new one.


Once all 12 rounds are over it’s time to see who won. The first portion of scoring is easy – each Holiday Card is worth it’s number in points. So the 1st Holiday Card is worth one point and the 12th is worth twelve. The next part though is where a considerable amount of strategy during the Gift Giving phase comes into play.

The players then go through each value of the Gift Cards. Whoever has the most of a value remaining in their hand gets that many points. So if you have the most twelves left in your hand at the end of the game, you get an additional 12 points. If multiple players are tied for the most of a value all those players get the full value of points.

This can make for a fairly drastic swing at the end of the game as a player can win by only getting a few of the tricks at the end and saving up a lot of high value cards.

The small size, quick playtime and clear rules makes 12 Days a fantastic game to take around with you. Even in a Dr. Office or Restaurant you’ll probably have enough time and space to get in a game. Not to mention all the fun you’ll have giving those gifts.

Let’s see your holiday spirit! @MyGeeklings #12Days @CalliopeGames

“Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn’t come from a store.”
~ Dr. Seuss

Author: sandyz