19 February 2022
When I was your age television was all books
This article originally appeared in issue 63 of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here.
The Princess Bride game, based on the film of the same name, comes to us with no shortage of good will. The film is a classic nonsense tale of daring-do, inconceivable plot twists, and forced mawwage. It’s full to the brim of jokes both in-world and meta, and has a kind of pantomime silliness to it – framed by the conceit of a grandfather telling his grandson a wild tale.
Games generally have a problem with not being able to contain a narrative in the way we’re used to in TV, film and literature. The best storytelling games are those who let you build your own. The Princess Bride however has the opportunity to jump between scenes in the film, and play them out instead – as the love for the source is all about nostalgia for the wonky tale. Which is what it does – nudging you towards remembering your favourite quotes from the film.
It plays out as a cardboard story book, each presenting a scene and a number of spaces to move around. Players can move any characters they like on their turn with two movement actions, then use the cards they have in their hands to some effect. Here, players are playing matching cards of the right suit to complete tasks – two love cards and a courage while Westley and Buttercup are in the same space might progress the story for example. Complete all of these in the chapter you’re on to the next. Assuming the plot deck doesn’t throw you off. Each turn you’ll also flip a plot card which will perform a chapter specific task – like moving Prince Humperdink along his path, or moving the Rodents of Unusual Size towards the nearest character. Sometimes they’ll also throw your characters about to different, unhelpful spots.
With this, it has a little bit of that simple loop of something like Horrified but further reduced. Whereas Horrified was a collect and drop-off kind of game, here there’s additional restrictions of certain characters needing to be in certain spots – often meaning once a task is complete, that character might not be of use any longer.
There’s a fine line between simple mechanics opening up a game’s flow state, and being a bit perfunctory. Shuffling pieces for little reason is something we have an aversion to – and sometimes it felt like we were doing that here. Equally, the game relies so much on your ability to draw that it’s frustrating to just be sitting there waiting to win or lose based on the next round of draws.
We think this would still frustrate younger players, even those hovering right on the 10+ age rating. On the other hand, there’s an interesting deck construction angle to the game where special cards can be played and added to the discard pile – which is shuffled back into the deck for the next chapter.
There’s some good stuff going on here, but it might underestimate the audience – and the depth of the content (90 minutes if you complete each chapter first time) doesn’t offer much for replay value.
CHRISTOPHER JOHN EGGETT
Extremely charming thanks to the source material – and the clear love for it in the production of the game, but hard to recommend if you’re not already a big fan. If you’ve got a younger revenge enthusiast at home, then maybe this is a nice nod to their own collection.
TRY THIS IF YOU LIKED Horrified…
The increasingly classic seeming Horrified offers a much more substantial but approachable version of the bag/deck building of this outing, with a Halloween aesthetic. All it’s missing is a credit to Andre the Giant.
Designer: Ryan Miller
Time: 90 minutes
What’s in the box?
- 7 Character miniatures
- Adventure book board
- 4 Reference cards
- 40 Story cards
- 30 Special cards
- 20 Plot cards
- 40 Counters
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