At Gen Con in 2009, there was one retailer who had a few copies of this game for the low price of $5. It looked liked it had high production values (which it does), and I recognized the designer's name (Reiner Knizia). This was enough to make take the $5 chance, but let's be honest. I have a weakness for cheap games. Given the size of the box, I would have bought any thing that looked remotely interesting for $5. So was this game a good find or is stuff usually on sale for a reason?
Despite being tied to a movie licence, this game is really an abstract tile laying game. The game is played over three acts. Each act has its own board and its own set of tiles. The tiles are anywhere from +5 all the way down to -6. On a player's turn they may do one of two things. They may draw a tile and play a tile to an open spot on the board. The second thing they may do is place a pawn. These pawns will score the player points and have multipliers of x1, x2, x3, or x4. At the end of an act players get back any x1 pawns used, but the others can only score once.
Once a board has been filled with tiles and pawns, the act ends and the pawns are scored. The pawns score based on the value of the tiles that in the row AND column the pawn occupies. For example if I place a x2 pawn in a space, and in the row their were the following tiles: +1, +3, -2, +1. That pawn would score six points by adding up the value of the tiles and then applying the pawn's multiplier. I would also score the pawns column, which let's say is +3, -1, opponent pawn, +4. In this example this pawn would score 12 points for the column, meaning the pawn scored 18 points total. After scoring this pawn would be removed from the game.
The first board is a simple 5x5 grid, but the act II and act III board are very uniquely shaped. There are also some special powers, such as tiles that allow other tiles be removed, tiles that increase the multipliers of pawns, and tiles that can replace other tiles. At the conclusion of the third act whoever has the most points wins.
The Game We Played
The first act went very well for my wife she scored several points with all of her placed pawns, and one of my x2 pawns actually gave me negative points. However, Act II did not go so well for her. I was able to place my big x4 pawn in a space that had a +5 in both its row and column. My wife tried to play negative points, but I kept getting tiles that allowed me to remove her negative point tiles. This made the row my big guy was in very high scoring. My wife tried to jump into this with her x4 pawn. I played a tile that allowed me to scoot her x4 pawn over one tile out of the valuable column. On my next turn I dropped a -6 in the column with her big multiplier. At the end of the round she lost several points with her x4 pawn, while mine scored over 60 points. This really ended the game. It did not help that the third act also went much better for me than it did for her. This may be one of the most one sided games of anything that we have played in a while. I won with a final score of 334 to 198.
My Rating: 2 (Do Not Care For)
My Thoughts: The game is fine I guess. I find playing it kind of bland. I tend to like theme in games. I am not opposed to mechanics over theme, but the theme should at least be part of the game. Agricola for example, is not an accurate simulation of farming, but it at least feels like a game about farming. This game could have been made with the exact same rules, and had ANY theme. If this was a My Little Ponies game, it would have played the same (just different art work). I find the way the game plays OK, but the absence of a real theme makes this a game that I will easily pass up to play something more fun.
Her Rating: 2 (Do Not Care For)
Her Thoughts: I want to like this game more than I do. I feel like this is a game I should like, but every time I play it I get frustrated and do not have much fun.
Combined Rating: 4
I can see how this game can have people who like it. It is a fairly light game that is all about picking the right opportunity to make the best move. However, I find the overall play to be boring and my wife finds it frustrating. That means there is little reason to keep this one.