Friday, 8 October 2010

Magical Athlete

The Game

The box cover.

In a nutshell: Pick 5 characters to compete in 5 roll-and-move races, and each character has a unique ability.

Slightly longer version: During the character chosing phase of the game, players take turns to add one character to the board, then decide whether to buy one of the characters on the board. Everyone starts with $8. When a character first appears on the board, he or she costs $4. As more characters get added, older characters get shifted and become cheaper. When the board is full, you must buy one of the characters, so that there is space for the next player to add another new character.

This side of the game board is used during the buy phase. Characters are added to the board from the left. As players decline to buy characters, more and more will accumulate, and they get pushed to the right, and their costs drop. The right most character costs $0.

After everyone has 5 characters, the races start. At the start of each race, players secretly choose a character and then reveal them at the same time. The race track has 30 spaces and no other features. You roll a die to move your character. The winner and 1st runner up gain 3VP and 1VP in the first race, 4VP and 2VP in the second and third race, and 5VP and 3VP in the last two races.

The core of the game is the unique abilities of the characters. Every single one of them is unique, and not all characters will be in play in a game (some are randomly removed at the start of the game). The Martial Artist skips over spaces occupied by other characters. The Siren draws other characters one step towards her. The Pirate kidnaps anyone by bringing him/her to the same space as him. The Merchant can change places with another character. Cupid moves 5 spaces whenever a male and a female are on the same space (but then the number of females is much less than males, so this power is wasted if a race only has males). Some characters can make others lose a turn, which can be very painful.

Four of the characters that I had bought. You get the character card, and a small cardboard strip which is the actual character during the race.

Close-up of the tiny characters. I like the artwork.

The Play

I spent $4 on the Merchant, but Ah Keong, who had the Assassin, killed my Merchant before the races started. Aarrgghh... I did get a different random character as compensation, so that I could still participate in all 5 races. Ah Keong's Cupid was very very powerful. There was one female character in that particular race and somehow, boy and girl kept meeting up. Cupid sped ahead and noone could come close.

The Cupid was far far ahead of the rest. The Siren was the only female character. The problem is she always draws everyone towards her. This makes it easier for a male character to land on the same space as her, thus giving the Cupid 5 steps.

This was a closer race.

My Necromancer. He can force another character to move backwards.

The Pirate was a lot of fun. In that race there was always someone who broke out from the pack, only to be summoned back by the Pirate.

I had the Martial Artist in the last game which could move very fast by skipping over occupied spaces. I was slowed down by another character (I forget the name) which could force you to lose a turn when you pass her. However near game end I managed to roll high and reach the goal. It was a lucky roll. I did poorly in the early game, but I won the last two races (5VP for each victory), and that gave me the win for the overall game.

The Thoughts

Very light game, but not completely mindless, because you do have to evaluate the value of the characters during the buying phase, and you have to decide which character to use for each race. Sometimes even during a race you need to decide whether to activate your power, and if so who to use it on.

A very simple game suitable for playing with children. Lots of luck naturally. Artwork is cute. 5 races feel slightly long, but I suspect 4 may feel too short.

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