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Subject: Specific edition review: Hollywood Blockbuster rss

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Snowden Wyatt
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The short review:

Game: 8/10 - I LOVE this game!

New Design: 4/10 - While I have problems with the redesign, I can find a FEW good things about it.



The longer review:

Hollywood Blockbuster (redesign of Traumfabrik) is yet another Reiner Knizia auction game. This time the theme is based on the production of films.

The game is played in four rounds, each round consisting of several auctions for "components" of films (directors, actors, cinematography, sound and special effects). Each round also has two "parties" where each player gets their pick of components based on the number of actors they have attracted to their films. Each player starts with three films that need components to be completed. Each time a player completes a film, they draw a new film to work on, so they are always working on three films. Films come in three different categories (Adventure, Drama , and ????? - our group just generally goes by the colors that represent the categories).

Each completed film is given a ranking based on the "star power" of the film. Each component in the auctions is rated from zero to four stars (with one worth negative one star) and the basic film itself is also rated from two to four stars to begin with.

There are also several ways to score bonus points for completed films:
1. The first film completed in each of the three categories is immediately awarded bonus points.

2. At the end of each of the first three rounds, there is an award for the best film completed so far (a film can win this more than once)

3. At the end of the final round, there are awards for: Best film (again), Worst film, and Best Director (Highest total amount of stars on your director chips on your completed films).

4. You also get points for the "money" you have left over.

Speaking of money....

The spending and distribution of your money is probably the niftiest mechanic in this game. Each player starts with an equal amount of "contracts". This is the money in the game, each contract counts as "one money", there's no other denomination in the game. Each time a player wins an auction, they divide the contracts they paid for the lot equally amongst the other players. Any left over contracts are placed in the middle of the board to be included in the distribution of contracts from the next won auction. This makes for some interesting cash flow during the game.

So that's pretty much the game, I really like the way the money flows around in the game and I also really liked (note the past tense) the theme and artwork. Traumfabrik used real likenesses and names for the Actor and Director chips and real film names for the films. The films and people used were from the 1930's to the 1950's (or 1960's).


And there lay the problem......

When Hasbro (who published the Traumfabrik in Germany) attempted to bring the game over to the U.S., they ran into a little thing called US copyright law. Apparently there was no way in devil that the US studios or the individual stars and directors (or their estates) were going to allow their intellectual property to be used in a game published in the U.S. without compensation. Considering how much money would be involved in that compensation, Hasbro decided that they could not publish it here. (Even if they only used one studio's films, there are about 25-30 actors and directors used in the game, each of which would probably require some sort of individual cut.)

So, in stepped Uberplay who managed to get the game published in the U.S. under the new title Hollywood Blockbuster. Understanding that parody is protected under the U.S. constitution, they set out to redesign the game using parodies of stars, directors and film titles involved.

All in all, I don't find the parodies too unpalatable. Yes, some are pretty lame (OK, very, VERY lame), but others are actually sort of clever IMHO. It does appear that there is a bit of spite and venom in some of the parody names, I suspect that this came out of frustration with the barriers to getting this game published.

What is more objectionable is the graphics and colors used in the redesign. Subtle and muted are out and bright and brash are in. So you might want to bring your sunglasses!! cool cool

Also somewhat objectionable is the cardstock used for the film cards and the Actor/Director/etc chips in the game. It's definitely flimsier than that used in Traumfabrik. Perhaps this is another one manufactured in China?

The Bottom line:

If you like the game, but don't want to pay the premium to get it through ebay.de (or the $110 price tag to get it from the one U.S. ebay store that is selling it right now), then get this. It's the same game.

Some may even like the fact that the parodies reference more recent actors, directors and films. Not all people are classic film buffs.

Personally, I would love to get my hands on a reasonably priced copy of Traumfabrik, but since that doesn't appear possible right now, I'll gladly buy and play Hollywood Blockbuster. After all, $26.00 from Tanga was too good a deal to pass up...
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John Weber
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This has been one of the most played games in my collection, and I think a large measure of its popularity stems from the fact that it does have those real-life actors and directors -- I mean, I get really tingly when Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, or Deborah Kerr comes out of the box. The master designer himself, Reiner Knizia--put himself in the game -- question: anyone know if he is still there in the new version?

Anyway, I am hanging onto my delipaditated, dog-earred version of this classic game even with a couple of missing pieces (not the chits you need to make the movies, fortunately) as I can't see going for the new version and your 4.0 rating confirms my worst fears.
 
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Matthew M
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Reiner is not in Hollywood Blockbuster. The -1 guest star is now Keaneu "Breeze"

-MMM
 
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Trevor Murphy
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Octavian wrote:
Reiner is not in Hollywood Blockbuster. The -1 guest star is now Keaneu "Breeze"

-MMM


Ugh. That's bound to get funnier every time.
 
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Christopher Hill
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My two cents: I just received my copy of Hollywood Blockbuster. I was waiting on this release for months. I had played the original Traumfabrik and loved it. The fact that the game couldn't be published with actual Hollywood names and titles bothered me a bit, but then again these are some very vane people with very expensive lawyers. I mean, don't they already make enough money? Anyway, it didn't really matter to me as I loved the way the game plays. Hollywood Blockbuster is the same game as Traumfabrik although with sub-par production value. The chits are of a lesser grade cardboard and I seem to remember there being a wider choice of named directors in the original edition. Hollywood Blockbuster only has four named director chits (albeit parodied). These things combined with a printing error has made Hollywood Blockbuster not one of Uberplay's best production efforts. The game board itself was nicely done however and overall I am happy with my purchase. I may still purchase a copy of the original though, as it really is the better produced version.
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Paul Elliott
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Octavian wrote:
Reiner is not in Hollywood Blockbuster. The -1 guest star is now Keaneu "Breeze"


This may be the only inspired choice of actor/star rating. Heh.
 
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Traumfabrik focuses on the glamour of old Hollywood, whereas Hollywood Blockbuster is more about the glitz of modern Hollywood. The difference being that glamour implies a certain level of taste and sophistication. I have never had much respect for the Hollywood machine and feel the glamour is probably misplaced. Nevertheless, glamour and respect of the subject matter is incorporated into Traumfabrik and Hollywood fans apperently dig this.

In my opinion, the current atmosphere in Hollywood is especially dismal from an artistic standpoint and whatever glamour there used to be has long since been sacrificed for a quick buck. I think Hollywood Blockbuster captures this aspect of modern Hollywood well.

As far as caricatures are concerned, Hollywood caricature is as old as Hollywood itself and I find it hard to believe that film fans are so opposed to it, especially when the real names are NOT available for a U.S. printing of the game.

In my mind, the one thing that Traumfabrik has over Hollywood Blockbuster is that the names Traumfabrik uses have already made their mark in movie history and thus will never feel out-dated (or at least it's as out-dated as it will ever be). I suspect a few, and maybe many, of the names in Hollywood Blockbuster will have faded away in 10 to 20 years.

While I have yet to see Hollywood Blockbuster in the flesh, I am concerned about the need to wear sunglasses while playing. But, hey, it's Hollywood, right?
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Matthew M
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I've got Hollywood Blockbuster and think it's great. The colors don't bother me, I'm ambivalent about the parody names but it's easy enough to use the real ones. The printing error on the one film card isn't as annoying as the 6 and 9 being nearly indistiguishable (no line underneath) - and for the record that isn't terribly annoying.

Besides...who hasn't wanted to see what Indiana Jones would be like with Keaneu in it?

-MMM
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Joshua Ostrander
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Octavian wrote:
The printing error on the one film card isn't as annoying as the 6 and 9 being nearly indistiguishable (no line underneath) - and for the record that isn't terribly annoying.


I just got Hollywood Blockbuster and am looking forward to trying it out. What is the printing error? Is it a misspelled word?
 
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Matthew M
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jostrand wrote:
Octavian wrote:
The printing error on the one film card isn't as annoying as the 6 and 9 being nearly indistiguishable (no line underneath) - and for the record that isn't terribly annoying.


I just got Hollywood Blockbuster and am looking forward to trying it out. What is the printing error? Is it a misspelled word?


The last slot in "The Cybertricks" should be for a guest star actor - not a regular actor.

-MMM
 
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Rich S.
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I like the art. It's sorta Al Hirschfeld-esqe, and I love Al Hirschfeld.

The names are silly, but a) it's not hard to use the real names in play, like Matthew said, and b) my non-game-playing wife thought some of the names were funny, so there's a better chance of getting her to play. That's a good thing.
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Gabe Alvaro
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I've never seen the original Traumfabrik, but I played Hollywood Blockbuster for the first time this weeekend. I don't think HB would be as good if it had the real names and faces of current hollywood actors. It might even risk dating itself if it had used real names and faces. I can see the appeal of the original though. Sort of like making the dream movie that never was with legendary Hollywood/film icons who had cemented their status in film history.

HB succeeds though in taking the piss out of modern Hollywood. I think the caricatures are brilliant in this regard. I think this game could prove to be a really successful gateway game if you got it in front of the right people. Many of the non-gamers I know are very theme-oriented. Hollywood Blockbuster's theme flirts really close with the whole hollywood/paparazzi thing which is the grist of entertainment/celebrity magazines like the National Enquirer, The Star, In Touch, and Us Weekly which have some of the LARGEST circulation bases of any magazines on the planet.

If they followed this theme a little deeper, I could even imagine an expansion that perhaps opened up the "party" square more and further developed it with some seedy tabloid stuff. Possibly allowing for some "take that" mechanics that allowed players to maybe steal from other players in a vicious hollywood style ala LA Confidential or Chinatown (the movie, not the game). Hollywood, as these movies have shown, can be a very nasty place! The possibilities are really rich.
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Peter Franklin
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I had been wanting this game for a long time and waiting for the reprint. Honestly I was a bit turned off the first time I saw the picture of the characitures and parody names posted here.
When tanga offered this game I jumped on the chance, with a little apprehension about how the quality would be.
I never had played the original, so I have nothing to compare the experience to, but after my fist playing of the game the day I got it with my 2 daughters, I have to say I loved it. None of the artwork or parody names bothered me a single bit while playing the game. It was FUN! We all loved it and can't wait to play again. Including my daughters, who aren't always so excited about a lot of "dad's games".
Oh, and by the way, my younger daughter (age 10), kicked our butts. I am really horrible at auction games but I love them. I never seem to know how to value things.

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Gabe Alvaro
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ososnilknarf wrote:
It was FUN! We all loved it and can't wait to play again. Including my daughters, who aren't always so excited about a lot of "dad's games".

Nice. That's the gateway I'm talking about.
 
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generalpf wrote:
I couldn't tell from the photos that were submitted... does this edition come with little plastic stands for the awards? Thanks.



Yes, the awards and the "director" first player piece do have stands.
 
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Tim Myers
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Octavian wrote:
... The printing error on the one film card isn't as annoying as the 6 and 9 being nearly indistiguishable (no line underneath) - and for the record that isn't terribly annoying. ...

I was a little concerned about the "9" and "6" being hard to distinguish but noticed that the spoke of the film reel is always on the bottom of the number.

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generalpf wrote:
I couldn't tell from the photos that were submitted... does this edition come with little plastic stands for the awards? Thanks.

Yes. There are plastic bases.
 
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OK, here's my 2 cents...

I don't really have a problem at all with characatures, but if that's the route they were going to take, why not take actors from the entire history of US cinema, rather than just the recent players? I mean, some of these actors (and quite a few of the screenplays) are totally unknown to me. So, why not include Marilyn Manure and Meryl Street and Party Lohan all side-by-side?

For those who enjoy flavor (a.k.a. theme) in their games, the whole contract thing just doesn't make sense to me with modern actors. After all, they're pretty much all free agents and not restricted to a single studio, as they were in the DreamFactory days of Hollywood. So, moving to modern actors creates a dissociation between theme and components, for those who care.

To me, it doesn't matter. It's a great game. The biggest issue is the cheap components. Given that it was manufactured in China, they should have been able to up the cardstock without significantly increasing total weight (which could affect shipping cube/weight limitations). And the cost would have been truly minimal. I had to be extra careful in punching out the tokens to make sure I didn't rip a few.

My only other concern deals with a rules question, but I'll put that in its rightful forum place.
 
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Tim Myers
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kinga1965 wrote:
... Hollywood Blockbuster only has four named director chits (albeit parodied). ...

They are parodied, but when we have played we refer to the directors, actors/actresses and movies by their actual names sometimes. I can understand why they could not use actual names and the parodied names do not detract from the game, in my opinion.

I am also a bit bummed out that they only have 4 named directors and I am thinking of applying names to the other director chits to add a little more to the theme. Everybody gets a chuckle out of differnt actors and directors doing movies you might not expect them to do.


rayito2702 wrote:
Traumfabrik focuses on the glamour of old Hollywood, whereas Hollywood Blockbuster is more about the glitz of modern Hollywood. ...

I like the modern movies, actors and directors in Hollywood Blockbuster. The crowd that I play with can relate to the more recent names, then they can with the older classic ones.


blindspot wrote:
I think this game could prove to be a really successful gateway game if you got it in front of the right people. Many of the non-gamers I know are very theme-oriented. Hollywood Blockbuster's theme flirts really close with the whole hollywood/paparazzi thing...

I can also see this being a good gateway game because people are familiar with the theme, making movies. I think that I might be able to get my brothers and their wives to play this over the upcoming holidays, where they were reluctant to try other gateway games.
 
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Matthew Popielski
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Add me to the short list of people who really like the Uberplay version. Its glitzy, garish, a bit cheeky, borderline tasteless in its puns, and has pastel colors that almost ooze sunshine on the board. When I look at it it really reminds me of Hollywood. Traumfabrik's design, although more tasteful, artistic, and in many ways more beautiful, has an auster, subdue, serious tone that I think is a bit misplaced in a game about movie magic in Hollywood. The quality of the components is a bit inferior in Hollywood Blockbuster, but they are functional. I think the movie theme, along with the loud colors and goofy names help this game work better as as a gateway game to people who might be turned off by the more serious tone that a lot of the very good German games have. In my opinion, the over the top nature of the artwork helps to make the game more thematic, and more accessible to a casual gamer.
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JB Segal
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Reiner DOES appear in this edition of the game... look at the signature on the Contract chits...
 
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