Reviewed by Herb Levy
SUPER MEGA LUCKY BOX (Gamewright, 1 to 6 players, ages 8 and up, 20 minutes; $15.99)
This is a time of year when the Holiday Gift-Giving Buying Season begins to ramp up! What to do? What do you get for those gamers on your list – and for those folks who may not share your passion for games but are open to a fun, multiplayer experience? Thanks for the efforts of designer Phil Walker-Harding (Imhotep, Sushi-Go etc.), a candidate for a perfect “stocking stuffer” has emerged: Super Mega Lucky Box.
If I was forced to describe the game in a sentence, it would be this: Bingo with a few clever twists. But it’s those “clever twists” that make the game.
Players are dealt a hand of 5 Lucky Box cards, keeping 3 of them. These cards display a 3×3 grid of numbers from 1 to 9. (Not all numbers appear on all cards and there are repeat numbers too.) Players also are given a scoreboard, a dry erase marker and 4 “Lightning” tokens. A deck of 18 cards (2 each of numbers 1 through 9) is shuffled and a deck of 9 cards dealt. In order, 1 card from the deck is revealed and players fill in ONE (and only 1) of that number on any of their cards. Completing a row of numbers on your card earns you a bonus (from being able to cross off an additional number, to getting a star which will earn bonus points, to getting a “Lightning bolt” which may be used to add or subtract to the revealed card number to help complete a row or card or a moon which, in Sushi-Go fashion, will give the player with the most moons at the end of the game 6 points while the player with the fewest loses 6. Ties are “friendly” in that if more than one player has the most OR the least, they get the full amount of bonus or penalty!)
At the end of the round (when all 9 cards have been revealed), players score for completed cards (15 points for the first round, 12, 10 and 8 in subsequent rounds). Stars won through completing rows are tracked on a player’s scorecard too. Completed cards are then erased and discarded. Incomplete cards remain in front of the players. ALL players are now dealt an additional three cards, keeping one of them. The 9 cards used in the game are collected, all 18 reshuffled, 9 dealt out and then, once again, revealed one at a time until all have been revealed to end the round. The game is played over FOUR rounds. After four rounds, points earned for completed cards plus cards the player with the highest total wins!
Although the game seems remarkably simple, there are actual decisions to be made and strategy to pursue. Deciding WHICH Lucky Box cards to keep is key. Completed rows give you bonuses but the cards offer a different assortment. Concentrate on the ability to fill in extra numbers? (That’s good because completed cards give you lots of points.) Try to get additional Lightning tokens? (Also good as these tokens allow you to modify, either up or down, the value of a revealed card.) Gain stars? (One or two of these may not add up to much – worth only 1 or 4 points respectively – but gain 3 in a round and you have yourself a very considerable 9 points!) But don’t forget to gather up some moons! (Gaining – or losing – 6 points in this game can be the difference between winning and losing!)
Production quality of the game is very good. The Lightning and moon tokens are solid, scorecards are laminated (although there should have been a single box where you can total up all the cards you have completed) and the dry erase markers actually work! More Lucky Box cards would have been welcome as the deck, especially with 5 or 6 players, runs out and requires reshuffling.
Super Mega Lucky Box is a wonderful way to open up a gaming session, close out a gaming evening and, even better, introduce friends and family to a world of games that exists beyond the evergreens they all of us have grown up with and enjoyed. If you consider how much fun and replayability is contained in this box, you have to agree that this really is Super! – – – – – – Herb Levy
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