A Review of The Princess Bride Adventure Book Game: Part I: Unboxing, Solo Rules, and First Impressions

One of my favorite movie moments of all time is watching The Princess Bride at a midnight showing of the movie. The movie had been out for some time and had achieved “cult” status, so The Princess Bride made the midnight showings at many alternative theaters. My favorite moment? The entire audience (who has been quoting the movie all night) screaming at the top of their lungs, screaming The Cliffs Of Insanity!!!

Cooperative Board Game

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There have been a number of Princess Bride board games over the years, but I haven’t picked any of them up: partly because none of the have been cooperative, but also because none of them have been particularly good.  This newest one just came out fairly recently: today’s date is Oct 26th, 2020! The Princess Bride Adventure Book Game, to the best of my knowledge is only available at Target (I had to order it online after visiting 2 Targets looking for it).  It’ll probably be available at other outlets soon enough.

The game is for 1-4 adventurers, for ages 10+.  Keep an eye on that age, because that will influence how complex this game is (foreshadowing: it’s not particularly complex).

Unboxing

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The cover is gorgeous, with the game gilded with golden highlights.  I love the art: it isn’t cheesy, yet still captures the imagery from the movie without using stills!

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Opening up the box, you are presented with the rulebook and the Adventure Game book.

The Adventure book is a THICK cardboard book, but it’s hard to see from the picture above. See below for a picture from the side!

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Opening it up, you see scenes from The Princess Bride movie.

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The rulebook is fairly small, only 8 pages!

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We’ll take a further look inside the rulebook in a section below. In the meantime, we’ll look at the cards:

The cards are easy to read, and the art is nice, using the same stylized art from the box cover. The only problem is that the cards aren’t linen-finished. I guess that’s pretty standard for a mass-market game that you get at Target.

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The tokens that come are easy to read, and they come prepunched!! (I.e., no sheet to punch out). I wonder if this is a new direction in gaming?

The reference cards are nice (and I am very happy they have these):

But the best component we’ll save for last: The miniatures!

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I’m usually not a miniatures guy, but I liked these! (You know, if I say that many more times, I think maybe I am a miniatures guy. In the meantime, I will live in denial). The miniatures look like the characters, but the different colors really distinguish the characters.

Rulebook

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The rulebook is short and to the point. It’s only 8 pages!! The first page does it right and shows all the components.

The second page shows the (general) set-up: It turns out every scenario will have a slightly different set-up, but they all have the same general. It’s easy to read and easy to get going. I was up and going very quickly.

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The rules are explained pretty well. There is a fine point that the rules don’t explain well, but we’ll discuss that in the playthru.

In general, the rulebook was great. Concise (perhaps too concise) and nice graphic design.

Solo Play

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The game is fully cooperative. Interestingly, there are no exceptions for solo play. You might think that each player plays a character from the game, but you would be wrong! The players collectively play/move all the characters on the board. On a player’s turn, a player simply moves around one (or more) of the Princess Bride characters on the board—they go around the board using their cards to solve challenges.

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The challenges require characters to be on specific spaces and specific cards needed to be discarded. Note the colored symbols on the right of the challenges: they correspond to the cards the players obtain during the game.

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For example, the courage card (orange card at the top, and orange symbol) is one of the three cards needed for “Seek Fortune” challenge.

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The solo play doesn’t need any special rules because the players turns are fairly indistinct as there are no special player powers. We’ll talk more about this below. But, it works well. I had fun playing through the first scene of the movie. And it was about 15-20 minutes.

Set-Up

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Each Chapter in the game corresponds to a major scene from the movie. This is a campaign game (it’s not legacy: no stickers or torn-up cards). The set-up changes depending on which chapter you are on.  I have played a lot of campaign games (especially over the last few months), and this is one of the simpler ones: it was easy to set-up, even though each chapter is different.IMG_6885

Like most cooperative games, there is a “Bad News” deck (called the Plot deck) and the results of the plot deck are interpreted via the text on the left side of the board.  In the first Chapter, 1-15 puts chores on the board, and 16-20 moves Buttercup around.  Each Chapter will have a different effect from the Plot deck.

Issue

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So, one of the issues I had is something you will confront right away. The rules are “unclear” that you can solve multiple challenges per turn. After getting a few turns into the first Chapter, I realized it was absolutely necessary! The game is unsolvable unless you can solve multiple challenges on a turn!!! I wish that was clearer from the rules. A smart gaming group will figure that out quickly, but I am worried that a family group will simply think the game is unwinnable and poorly designed. So, as a public service, I offer this clarification: Players may solve multiple challenges per turn.

Audience

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So, remember the recommended ages we discussed earlier? 10+? This is a simpler co-op game. This is partly demonstrated because there are no special player powers: each player’s turn feels similar to the previous player’s turn: this makes it easy for kids and parents to just jump in. The game’s smaller rulebook (only 8 pages), the simpler set-up, the simple rules, all outline that this game is intended to be a simpler co-op. I think the intended audiences are families.

Having said that, I think older folks who enjoyed The Princess Bride will also enjoy the game: the components and art really evoke the ethos of the game. They just need to realize that this is a simpler co-op.

Conclusion

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I had fun playing this game, but I am one of the people who used to quote dialog of the movie at the midnight movie showing!! I think families are the intended audience: they will really enjoy the game. Each Chapter is only 15-20 minutes long, and the game is easy to set-up, teach, and play! Families could keep playing as long as the kids were interested (1 play at 15 minutes, 2 plays at 30 minutes, “time-for-bed, we’ll play tomorrow night?”).

I think that if you don’t know the movie, and if you aren’t really playing with a family or younger kids, this might be a pass for you. The turns of the players are very simple and very similar, but that means there’s not a lot to distinguish turns. This makes it easy for kids and easy to add a solo mode, but it also means it’s not a hard co-op.

In the end: I liked The Princess Bride Adventure Book Game, but I don’t love it. It’s a nice, simple co-op. I love the art and the ethos it evoked. The Adventure Book was gorgeous and maybe part of the reason I like this so much.

One last note: this is a campaign. Once you’ve played all 7 Chapters, you’ve seen everything. I can see playing all the way through a few times, but then getting sick of it. I would almost consider this to be like an Unlock or Exit Escape Room or any “play-once game”. Buy it (it’s only $30), play it all-the-way-through, then pass it on to your friends.

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