Not long ago I had the chance to sit down and play another indie game, Movie Deal, by Blanket Games.
Contains: 1 box with 3 decks composing 106 total cards and the rules on a folded piece of paper.
Each player takes on the role of an emerging movie star attempting to build their clout by acting in bigger and better movies than the others gathered around the table. The game composes 3 decks; Box Office, Acting and Films.
Each player is dealt 5 acting cards; which are kept in their hand, hidden from the other players, until played
Five movie cards are drawn and placed in the center of the table
The player left of the dealer plays and action card from their hand onto a movie of their choice. Play then continues in clockwise order until all movies are released; lather, rinse repeat.
Movies are released when their requirements are met. Each movie card has a genre, star rating and reputation/fame requirements; such as 5 star action movie with 2 fame and 2 reputation.
As players play their action cards they will be adding star value as well as fame and/or reputation.
Action cards have a star rating and either reputation, fame or talent (talent counts as fame, reputation or either).
Player’s must complete a movies star value as well as the sub requirements without exceeding the star value.
As a player plays their cards on a movie they mark their card so they may later recall which cards were played by which players.
When a movie is released a Box Office card is drawn and laid on the movie stack.
When all movies are released players tally their scores and begin a new round; the players’ scores are equal to the star rating on the movies they contributed to plus/minus any Box Office modifiers.
Play continues until there are fewer than five films left in the film deck; at which point the player with the highest score wins
The Good, The Bad and the Rubric.
The good: it is a semi-cooperative game; I enjoy coopetitive games. It has some theme; I love theme. It seems to have variance so that no two games should play the same; I like replay value.
The Bad: You require tokens and a scoring mechanism; neither of which come packaged with the game. The box office can make or break you; and you don’t know what it is until after the movie has been completed; bad luck can cost you the game.
Visuals 0-2 (1): The visuals were ok; not amazing but not terrible. The rules, however, were left wanting. We had to make a few assumptions, the body text wasn’t the best choice of fonts, and there could have been more amusing iconography differentiating fame, reputation and, and talent
Skill/Luck 0-1 (.5): there was a level of skill; in one play through I had a very low star hand; and thus I managed to play on every movie, making it nearly impossible to lose to those who had a middle of the line hand while I only had to fear those with high star hands who could potentially finish a movie by themselves. However, there were times I or others would complete a movie single handedly and… and then lose it all on the box office. The box office is really what ruined it for me in this regard; it had too much power and was an unrestrained and an entirely unpredictable factor.
Pacing 0-2 (1): The game started slow then picked up in pace then slowed drastically. Some players would analyze all their options; as in every possible action card on every available movie. They would then predict the chance of others in playing on various movies so as to reduce the number of players capable of playing on the movies they played on. One player in particular spent a great deal of time debating internally on where to play a specific card to only than have the movie he played that card on end up getting 0 stars due to the box office.
Theme/Immersion 0-2 (1): There was great potential; but I didn’t feel like an actor fighting to be in a successful movie; rather I felt more like a studio executive. I think there is potential here; with some minor modifications. Make the players studio executives delegating resources. Add some fun back story by replacing acting cards with actors. So rather than a 2 star, 1 fame card you have Lilly Flanaghan; a newer actress (2 star) with a small following (1 fame); this would dress the game up a little and add a bit more fun.
Mechanics 0-1 (.5) The mechanics were understandable, I enjoyed the coopetitiveness but I would have liked to see more skill and less luck.
Fun 0-2 (1): The game wasn’t bad; very middle of the road. Like many games of this fashion it could have ended a bit sooner; the last few rounds were played because there were cards left in the deck not because players wanted the game to continue.
All in all the game received 5/10 stars, a solid average, a middle of the road, mid summer action flick. Nothing special. You won’t have a large dose of gamer’s remorse after playing it but you may hear one or two players vocalize they wish you had played something else or at the very least a desire to now play something else.
Now would I recommend the game? Let’s be honest 5 isn’t amazing but it is still playable. If a friend busted the game out and said lets play a round I wouldn’t say no but if a friend sat it and a few other games before me; it probably wouldn’t be my choice.