WOLFWALKERS – MY STORY

Reviewed by Herb Levy

WOLFWALKERS – MY STORY (Value Add Gamers, 2 players, ages 8 and up, 25 minutes; $23.99)

 

Sometimes a TV series or film will inspire the creation of a game based on that intellectual property. In this case, the Oscar nominated animated film Wolfwalkers has inspired a game for 2 players designed by Maja Milavec: Wolfwalkers – My Story.

In the film, a young apprentice hunter, Robyn Goodfellowe, journeys to Ireland with her father to wipe out the last wolf pack. While exploring the forbidden lands outside the city walls, Robyn befriends a free-spirited girl, Mebh, a member of a mysterious tribe rumored to have the ability to transform into wolves by night. As they search for Mebh’s missing mother, Robyn uncovers a secret that draws her further into the enchanted world of the WOLFWALKERS and risks turning into the very thing her father is tasked to destroy.  In an attempt to capture the atmosphere of the game, Wolfwalkers – My Story uses artwork from the film on a deck of 55 two-sided cards: one side, the “Story”, uses artwork from the film and displays one or more of assorted icons, the other side, the “Objective”, displays a variety of icon configurations which, if met, will award the player points. This deck is shuffled and six cards placed in the center of the play area to form a “market” always consisting of four story cards and two objectives. Now players will begin to construct their display. 

On a turn, a player chooses one of the cards from the market and places it into their display. The first card chosen may be placed anywhere but subsequent cards must be placed so they are adjacent to an already played card, either horizontally or vertically (and not diagonally). Once placed, the market is refreshed with a card of the same type drawn so there are always six from which to choose. Now, the next player goes by choosing a card and this continues until both players have constructed a 5 x 5 grid. At that point, we score.

There are four types of Objective cards. Some Objectives require certain icons to be found in your grid in certain patterns. These patterns may be mirror images or reversed if necessary. Other Objectives show a specific icon with arrows. That particular icon found in the row and column of that Objective card scores points. (In some cases, points are scored when that icon is NOT found in that row and column!) Double Icon Objective cards give points for Story cards having BOTH of the indicated icons on the same card.  (If that card has arrows, then scoring occurs for only those cards in the same row and column as that Objective.) And then there is balance. A Balance Objective means you have to have the SAME number of the two indicated icons in your display to score. The player with the highest total of points wins!

Cards for an “advanced” game are included in the box, additions greatly recommended after mastering the basics. These cards are Permanent Change and Opportunities.

The Permanent Change card deck is shuffled and ONE card drawn. This will change ONE rule for both players for the entire game (such as take TWO cards instead of one each turn etc.).  The Opportunity deck is shuffled separately and THREE cards drawn. These are ONE TIME uses that may be used by each player. (If your opponent uses one, you STILL may use that card as well.) Permanent Change cards may be ignored if you wish but use of the Opportunity Cards is greatly recommended.  These cards offer you the chance to do a variety of things and add yet another layer of freshness (since those available vary from game to game) and strategy to the game play as to when to use them including switching the position of cards and flushing the market, drawing six new cards to fill it! This “market refresh” ability is a rule that actually should be added to the basic game as a standard option (possibly deducting a point from your final score each time you use it) since it is frustrating to face a market devoid of any apparently useful cards. With this ability, you have at least a chance to reveal something useful to add to your grand design.

While ostensibly based on the animated film, Wolfwalkers – My Story stands apart from its cinematic inspiration (except for the artwork). There is not much “story creation” here. Rather, what you will be doing is balancing a panorama of cards (with essential icons) on your 5 x 5 grid to meet the objectives included in your display. There is a definite yin/yang challenge here. Take more objective cards and you reduce the number of “story cards” available to fulfil them. Select more story cards and you will have fewer objectives resulting in fewer opportunities to score! Although the game is very spatial (players who have an aversion to this type of play will be better off elsewhere), those who can handle this aspect will find amassing the right collection of icons and objectives, of balancing one with the other, to be an engaging experience. – –  – Herb Levy


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