Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Play Me (Cool Mini or Not)

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are two of Lewis Carroll's best known works. Walt Disney thought so highly of the books that he made an animated film out of it in 1951. Disney was not the first to adapt this book though, as it has been made into numerous films, comics, live performances, music, etc. One of the latest products to draw inspiration from Carroll is a game called Play Me from Cool Mini or NotPlay Me is a real-time, dice-rolling game for 2-6 players, ages 14+. It retails for $24.99 and takes approximately 10 minutes to play.

Setup
1. Give each player a double-sided character card, and have them place the card Wonder side up. (Note: The Wonder side is the positive side and is the more vibrantly colored side. The Madness side is the negative side and is a more washed out color.)
2. Give each player six dice in their character color.
3. Place the round token in the middle of the table with the White Rabbit side facing up. (Note: The reverse side shows the Jabberwocky.)
Game Play - The goal of the game is to make a straight (1 through 6) of all your dice. This is a real time game, so there are no turns. Everyone rolls their dice at the same time and may take one of the following actions per roll if possible:
1. Advance - Take one (and only one) die from your roll and place it in your row of dice. You must start with the number one and go in increasing order. You also cannot skip numbers and fill them in later.
2. Block - You may take one of your dice and block another player's row if it shows the next number in order. Example: If your opponent is up to three and you roll a four, you can place your die in their row to block them. (Note: You cannot block someone already blocked.)
3. Unblock - To clear a Block, you must roll the same number that you have being blocked. Both you and your opponent take their die back to re-roll.

The round ends when someone gets a straight. That person then flips their character card from Wonder side to Madness side. The first person to win two rounds wins. If everyone has flipped their cards to the Madness side (meaning everyone only wn one round), the White Rabbit is flipped over to the Jabberwocky and takes the square Jabberwocky card. The players flip their cards back to Wonder side and must now decide if they are going to battle the Jabberwocky as a team or solo. When the Jabberwocky wins a round, he picks a player to flip their card to Madness, and he wins when all other players have gone mad. The players win if they win a number of rounds equal to the number of players or an individual wins if they win two rounds.

Review
Real time games are hit or miss with people. Some people like them because they can make quick, accurate decisions and a real time gives them an advantage. Other people like to take their time and carefully follow a strategy. Luckily, you can play this game either way. Instead of everyone rapidly rolling, you could just have everyone roll at the same time, make a decision simultaneously, and then everyone re-roll. Doing it this way helps level the playing field along ages as well. Overall, I like the theme of this game and the simplicity of learning and playing the game. The game also provides a bit of asymmetry as everyone has different advantages and disadvantages to their character. This creates a different game play experience, especially if you rotate the characters around and test them all.

The game is portable, which I like, and the components are of good quality. The price is a little high, though, and it feels like it should only sell for $15, not $25.  Unfortunately, what I liked the least was the artwork. It was a little too dark for my taste. I get that they wanted to make this game appeal to a bit of an older audience and not make it feel like a child's toy, but I think they missed the boat. They could have made good artwork that would appeal to kids and adults without it being creepy, like this art is. I could seen teens and young adults liking this artwork though, so if you have teens in the household, give the game a whirl. They'll learn about literature, while playing a game!

This game was provided to me for free by Cool Mini or Not in exchange for an honest review.