Recommend
7 
 Thumb up
 Hide
2 Posts

Thomas & Friends: Birthday Surprise Card Game» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Rich in Theme, but no Real Surprises Here rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Pat Wilz
United States
Bay St. Louis
MS
flag msg tools
It's a funny name
badge
I found this backstage, an over-sized hat, it's funny!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thomas & Friends: Birthday Surprise Card Game is yet another game in the Thomas and Friends series of games. One can only imagine how these games continue to be produced. No matter. Generally speaking, I don't like to purchase these series games, but my son's grandmother feels the need to buy him board games. Understanding as I am, I cannot fathom the need to own so many games. Every game in this series is themed the same with trains and such, but the mechanics are a bit different.

Interestingly enough, I enjoyed this better than other games in the series. No game can be as bad as Thomas' Great Race Game, which is a mindless exercise in set identification, and is highly unbalanced.

Charming as the theme of Thomas and his friends delivering presents for the birthday of the owner of the railway, Sir Toppam Hat, I am more interested in the game's mechanics. Here, the game delivers what appears to be a mixture of some of my favorites -- memory, racing, dice rolling, and a bit of hand management thrown in. Examination of the rules (fairly well written) shows two levels of play, basic and advanced. Each player takes a train, rolls a die, perhaps adding to the total move if a match from a set of face-down tiles is made, and tries to move around the board as fast as possible. Knowing where certain tiles were earlier on in the game helps in later rounds, but I'm not convinced that management of bonus tiles is critical to victory.

My son and I added a bit more interest to the game by each playing two engines. My son's strategy tended toward getting Thomas around the track first, but I think that this had more to do with the fact that Thomas is his favorite character in the series while his other character, Molly, is a minor character and, "Is a girl!" I, on the other hand, split my moves evenly between my two engines, James and Percy. I frequently took second and third with Molly coming in last place.

My son insisted that he won, while I felt that I had won since I was the first player to get both of his engines to finish. My son suggested that this meant that everyone won, but I pointed out to him that this was not a cooperative game. At this point, my son shrugged, asked, "Is it Christmas yet?" and began noticing that the slick surfaces on the bonus tiles made for a potential dexterity game as he began flinging tiles over the board.

While we did not fully develop Thomas & Friends Birthday Surprise into a dexterity game, we -- well, my son mainly -- did come up with our own variant called the 'Crash-o-ree' variant. Here, instead of the trains all going in the same direction and passing each other safely, the trains moved in opposite directions. A memory tile labeled '4' is pulled from the stack of tiles, meaning that on train moves four spaces, which is the number of spaces that the trains start from one another. Upon completing the move of four spaces, the player must yell, "CRASH!" and knock one train off the board with the train that just moved. While 'Crash-O-Ree' may not be for everyone, I highly recommend this variant.

While Thomas & Friends Birthday Surprise is unlikely to get any Golden Geekie nominations, I feel that it is the best game of this series that I have played so far. Those of you who claim to only enjoy games like Brass: Lancashire, London (first edition), and Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization will probably not like it, though you probably wouldn't be buying this game anyway, even if I were to give it a good review. You're all alike you Wallace snobs! However, when one considers the level of excitement that can be generated by the 'Crash-O-Ree' variant, then this becomes a decent filler, especially when played by experienced gamers like myself and my four year old son.

I give it 6/10, which means that I really do like it better than Notre Dame.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bear Gordon
United States
Charlotte
North Carolina
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
HA HA! Of course you lost. Thomas is the the main character. His name is on the freaking board game. You don't mess with success like that.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.