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HOLLYWOOD CARD GAME

Reviewed by Herb Levy

(Fantasy Flight Games, 3 or 4 players, ages 8 and up, 15-20 minutes; $6.95)

 

More than just a geographic location, Hollywood has become synonymous with movies. And movies have international appeal which may account for two European game designers, Bruno Faidutti and Michael Schacht, teaming up to create a clever offering aptly titled The Hollywood Card Game.hollywoodcard

This card game consists of a deck of 12 Star Cards (depicting actors and directors) and a 44 card Movie Deck consisting of 39 Film Cards and 5 Blockbuster Cards. Each player takes markers (three in a four player game, four in a three player game) as well as 2 Studio Cards (in his matching color).

Three Star Cards are dealt, face down, along with 11 cards from the Movie Deck. These 14 cards are now shuffled together and placed in a tableau of two lines of 4 cards and two lines of 3. Now that we know which cards are available in this round, players take turns claiming them.

To claim a card, a player will place one of his markers on the BOTTOM card of any of the four lines. The next player may place a marker on any bottom card of any of the lines too. But a marker newly placed on a bottom card already occupied by a marker (even if it’s the player’s own marker), forces the “old” marker UP the line to the next card. If other markers follow and are placed on the bottom card, previously placed markers continue to get bumped up. Once a line is filled (i.e. all cards in the line have a marker on them), no further play on that line is possible. Players have another option too. They may play one of their Studio Cards.

Studio Cards give a player some flexibility. One card allows a player to have a double turn and place TWO markers in one turn. The other card allows a player to SKIP his turn, giving him a chance to hold back and see what others are doing. You have to be careful in using them, though. Each Studio Card may only be used ONCE each game!hollywood2

Once all 12 tokens are played, the round is over and cards are claimed IN ORDER!

Starting from the top card in the first line, players collect cards with their markers on them. However, cards must be assigned to their roles BEFORE the next card is claimed. This is important due to the different card types.

Film Cards show icons indicating film genre. Your first card of a genre creates a new film project. Any other matching card you collect gets added to your project. Star Cards commit you to making and completing a film IMMEDIATELY. Star Cards are grouped with any run of Film Cards you have (from 1 card on) and are placed aside for later scoring along with any Blockbuster cards collected on the way. (Don’t have any Film Cards when you collect a Star? Tough luck. The Star Card gets discarded!) With all cards collected, a new tableau of 14 cards is dealt, the player to the left of the player who started the first round now goes first and we do it all over again.

At the end of the third round, scores are totaled. The value of each completed film is the number of Film Cards MULTIPLIED by the number of stars on the Star Card associated with it. (So, a run of 3 Film Cards matched with a 3 star Star Card will give you 9 points.) Blockbuster cards stand alone and are worth 2 points each. Finally, players score for their longest run of cards that represent an UNFINISHED FILM, getting 1 point for each card in the run – with one exception. If you have two equally long unfinished projects, you score nothing for them! The player with the highest score wins!

The Hollywood Card Game is light and settles nicely into the “filler” niche, especially since it plays well with the odd number of three players. Still, there is more “meat” on its bones than one might suspect. Marker placement owes a little something to Nim but the fact that 2 cards are always unclaimed (and discarded after each round) and the presence of Studio Cards (allowing players to modify and time their moves) avoid that mechanical feel while allowing for at least a modicum of planning and strategy. As a fan of old films, I generally enjoy classic B-Movies. But when it comes to The Hollywood Card Game, I have to give it a solid A. – – – – – – – – – – Herb Levy


 

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