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Subject: Magic Kingdom Full of Magical Goodness rss

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Spencer Romney
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Utah
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The other Saturday, I managed to convince my wife to play a game with me. It was quite the coup; she agreed that she would play any of the new games I got for Christmas. I eagerly scanned our options: Power Grid, Euphrat and Tigris, Through the Desert, Alhambra, Samurai, For Saleā€¦ But there was one game tucked down underneath the stack that really caught my eye: the Magic Kingdom game. Yep, that was the game for us!

Ah, the Magic Kingdom game, given to us by a discerning and thoughtful sister-in-law. After all, I love games, and my wife enjoys Disneyland, so surely the Magic Kingdom game would be the perfect melding of our two hobbies.

For the few people out there who haven't played the Magic Kingdom game, I'll give a description of its components and rules. The game comes with a colourful board depicting various attractions in the Magic Kingdom park. Several three dimensional cut outs represent various A-list rides such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, the main street train terminal, the Haunted Mansion, Mickey's house, and Cinderella's castle. Two attractive pewter statuettes of Mickey and Donald are included and placed at random locations on the board. Another deck of cards represent various park attractions, both from the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland. The great thing about this game is its inconsistency; by calling it the Magic Kingdom game but including rides from Disneyland, the makers of the game make sure you never know what to expect! The last components were little cardboard chits with silhouettes of families on them that represent the players' positions on the board.

To play the game, players draw five cards. These cards are the attractions that players must reach in order to win the game. Players progress around the park by rolling a die. If a player rolls a one or a two, he (or she) must follow the instructions of a randomly drawn event card. Sometimes the instructions are beneficial to the player; sometimes they are not. The only way to guard against these event cards is by playing autograph cards that are collected by landing on the Mickey or Donald statuettes.

After an initial reading of the rules I was confused, then excited. The game seemed so simple, but I knew that there must be something deeper there. After all, Disney would surely not lend its name to an inferior product. I gamely chose a chit bearing the silhouette of a single dad pushing a stroller and leading another child by the hand. My wife chose a happy couple with a mouse-ear bedecked child leading them. We drew the cards, rolled the dice and were off!

I immediately saw a problem with my hand: the monorail, the American experience, the Tiki hut?! How could I possibly win the game with such inferior rides, especially when my wife easily visited her first destination (the mighty Cinderella's castle) within the first two turns.

I tried to halt her progress by throwing every event card I could get my hands on her way, but I was having a hard time picking up on the strategy of how to obtain and best use event cards. She sailed up around Tomorrow Land and into Toon Town while I still wallowed in Fantasy Land. She credited her superior playing abilities. I blamed the fact that I was a single dad trying to keep track of two kids and she had one measly child between two strapping adults.

I thought for a moment I could hinder her by using a strategically drawn event card to trade my Shooting Range with her Thunder Mountain Railroad. Granted, she was still far ahead, but I was hoping the sudden shift in her fortunes would demoralize her. Instead, she sneered at attempts and quickly gained an event card which let her switch them back.

We were both rounding the bend around Fantasy Land, nearly neck and neck, when she got a lucky roll and surged ahead. Alas, she reached Aladdin's Flying Carpets, and the game was hers. The end game seemed a bit abrupt, so we both consulted the rule book. Sure enough, play ended upon one player reaching all five of his (or her) attractions. After a brief discussion, we concluded that this was the only flaw in an otherwise airtight design. After all, every family knows that the most harrowing and dangerous part of a Magic Kingdom (Disneyland? MagicLand?) trip is attempting to reach the exit dragging screaming and tired children with masses of humanity pressing in from every side. We decided then and there to instigate a house rule that in order to win a player must reach the exit after having reached all five attractions. Game on!

I got to the Tiki hut. She crossed the bridge. I got an event card that allowed me to roll again. We were even. She rolled a high number. I got an event card that sent her to first aid. She rolled a six and was only three spaces away from the exit! I rolled a three. She crossed the finish line and did a little victory dance. I grabbed the Mickey statuette and strangled it. How could he let this happen!?

After the anger of my initial loss wore off, I began to see the possibilities the game had. There was so much opportunity for clever play and backstabbing. There were so many choices to make but only a limited number of actions available in the game. I picked up the box and studied it. I thought for sure that when I looked this time I would see that it was Reiner Knizia's or Wolfgang Kramer's Magic Kingdom. Nope, the designer was un-credited. I was disappointed, but buoyed by the knowledge that whoever this mystery designer was, he would have great days ahead of him in the boardgame hobby.
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Andreas
Germany
Nagold
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Great session report - even a review. But are You sure all things Disney are good? Expensive yes no question. But for board games...
 
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