It’s hard to beat Ravensburger Games when it comes to adaptations, putting out modern day classics like Jaws and Villainous, while also adapting things that you wouldn’t expect to make a good board game like Pusheen. One of their most recent games, however, adapts something that really is a no-brainer for a tabletop adaptation: Rob Reiner’s classic adventure/romance/comedy/fantasy The Princess Bride. It’s a beloved classic, and one that would need to capture the charm and wit that made the movie so successful. Not the easiest of tasks.
Ravensburger was kind enough to send me a copy to try out, and…well…getting games to table hasn’t been easy this past year. So I decided to give it a shot as another solo gaming review and see how it works when you’re adventuring through Florin all by your lonesome.
What’s In The Box?
- 7 Character Miniatures (Wesley, Buttercup, Prince Humperdinck, Vizzini, Inigo Montoya, Fezzik, and Count Rugen)
- Adventure Book Board
- 4 Reference Cards
- 40 Story Cards
- 30 Special Cards
- 20 Plot Cards
- 40 Counters
You already know the drill when it comes to Ravensburger. Excellent production value, great art, etc. I love that when they do these adaptations they use art rather than just pictures from the movie, though these are basically just tracings given the proper “story book” feel that the game is going for. The minis that come with the game, oh, they are GORGEOUS. Everyone is rendered damn well and with great detail, and they even have their name carved into the base of the mini. Fezzik’s is especially nice, right in scale with the others and incredibly chunky to boot. If you’re into painting minis, these would be a fun project.
The other big thing I really like about how The Princess Bride Adventure Book Game is setup is that the board is, as the name implies, a story book. It’s almost like a mini-campaign, with each “chapter” being a different set of challenges that have to be overcome. Having a changeable board like it does means there’s more room for diverse design and an escalating challenge level that builds over the course of your play. Each map is set at a different part of the story, with the challenges and special rules laid out on the sides for ease of access.
How’s It Play (When You’re Alone)?
The basis of the game is simple. Each person, or in this case just me, starts with four story cards that have different suits that correspond to a theme from the movie (courage, revenge, love, etc.). On the board are the set number of characters for each chapter, sometimes as few as two, and several tokens denoting different moving parts you have to contend with. As you go on, the more stuff to deal with there are and the more characters get involved. It’s mostly a hand management game otherwise since you discard cards to do most of actions in each chapter. To overcome specific challenges (like resurrect Wesley or beat Inigo in a swordfight), you have to discard a specific combination of cards of each suit after a condition has been met i.e. Buttercup and Wesley can’t confess their feelings unless most of the farm chores are done.
Complicating things is the plot, which unfortunately must continue while you have your adventures. After you take your actions, your draw from the plot deck and see what happens (it’s usually bad). There’s also miracles which can be retrieved by stopping on their space. These let you draw extra cards or get a special card, which is usually a moment from the movie (like a MLT) that have special one-time powers available. If you can’t meet the challenge in time and the plot cards run out, then the grandson interrupts and you have to try again. In theory, each section takes fifteen minutes but when you’re alone…it can be a lot longer, especially later on.
I’m a huge fan of the original movie (who isn’t?), so from that standpoint this game is absolute perfection. Tons of references, great rendering of the characters, and just a fantastic encapsulation of everything I love about the movie. There’s even a special thank your to “original” author S.Morgenstern in the game’s credits, which is a fun touch. I also found that the challenge of the game was fair and adapted the different parts of the story quite well to the tabletop.
However, I think the pure randomness of the game makes it a little inconsistent. Since it’s all based on card draw, it’s impossible to know if you’ll have what you need to advance. And the plot cards, which are both your timer and a way to make your life harder, kind of have an advantage since they’re more consistently going to mess with you. For instance, when you’re trying to get the gang together in the penultimate scenario, the plot cards either A) add brute squads to the map or B) move Humperdinck and Buttercup up the aisle. And if there are no brute squads available (there’s only two), then you move Humperdinck and Buttercup up instead. All while you scramble around trying to get the right cards.
These problems are compounded when you fly solo, since you only ever have six cards and there’s no real accommodation for you. When there’s more players, there’s more cards available and more flexibility on the board. The game was very obviously designed for a higher player count, and is really an exercise in pulling teeth when played alone. Even as a fan, I’ll make sure I bring some friends when I next try to storm the castle.
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Images via Ravensburger and 20th Century Fox
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