Ed Plays Games: Big Trouble in Little China

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Sophie got me this game for Christmas and we finally tried it out.  I’m not going to go over it piece by piece and rule by rule, because better people than I have already done that (for example, here).  Instead, I am just going to include some random thoughts that went through my head while I was setting up and playing the game.  They are more or less in chronological order.

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Unboxing the Game -“Have you paid your dues Jack?  Yessir, the check is in the mail.”

 

“Woo hoo!”  (Singing)  “Biiiiig trouble!  In little China!”

“Nice play mat!  Scrunching it into the box like that is going to cause a lot of wear though.  Lay it on the shelf under the box?”

“Holy shit, there are a lot of little decks to sort these cards into!”

“Sonofabitch must pay!”

“Do ‘Jack Burton Mediocre Hero’ cards go in the ‘Jack Burton’ pile or a ‘Mediocre Hero’ pile?”

“Whew!  That was a chore!  Now I’m all cranky.”

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Setting up the game – “My Yin and Yang are going in two different directions!”

“Pray you cards right, you might rive to talk about it!”

“So, now that I have sorted all these cards into a whole bunch of piles, I have to combine the piles?”

“This goes…  where?”

“I wish whoever did the Gracie Law card art had done the Jack Burton card art.”

“Why do Wang and Jack have more cards than the others?  Seems a shame to make extra cards for two of the characters and not the rest, especially since they generously supplied me with a whole bunch of useless blank black cards as well.”

“Chinese got a lot of hells, Jack.”

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Playing Game #1 – “Jack always says ‘what the hell.'”

*Flips through rules*  *Flips through rules again*  *Flips through rules a third time* *Makes judgement call*

“What do these little symbols do?  And why are they so small?”

“OK, once you figure out the rules, play seems to go pretty quickly.  Not much interaction though, which means in a 4-player game 3/4 of the game will be down time for any particular player.”

“SHUT UP MISTER BURTON!  YOU WERE NOT PUT UPON THIS EARTH IN ORDER TO ‘GET IT'”!

“OK, final showdown!”  *Flips through rules*  *Flips through rules again*  *Checks back of box*  *Flips through rules again*  “What.  The.  Fuck?”

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Playing Game #2 – “Gimme your best shot, I can take it!”

“Why select the villains, henchmen, and heroes randomly?  I bet nobody does that.”

“The Storms are badass!”

“Thunder!  Kill him, for me!”

“I am not getting the good draws.”

“Ack!  Didn’t keep my deck lean!”

“What does ‘Bribe’ do?”  *Flips through rules*  *Flips through rules*  *Flips through rules*  *Flips through rules*  etc.

“Good thing Sophie is here.  I’m not contributing much to this game.  Didn’t keep my deck lean and now I can’t afford the high value cards and without them I can’t attack the high value bad guys.”

“Won’t anyone in this sorry mass of villains rid me of some of these 0-cost cards?”

“Yeah, lets just skip ‘final showdown’.”

Impressions

So, here are my impressions of the game.

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Good Points
  1. Excellent theme
  2. Game play, once you figure it out, is pretty streamlined

 

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Bad Points
  1. THIS IS NOT A COOPERATIVE GAME.  While you CAN play it without the final showdown, the game doesn’t work quite right without it.
  2. The rulebook is not well-written and is sometimes vague and confusing.  At least one game rule (“Bribe”) is not included, and you will need to look it up online or in another game of the line.

On the whole I found the game to be one that is fun to play, but has some portion of its enjoyment marred by the confusing rulebook.  I would recommend playing this particular game with someone who is familiar with the rules (both the general Legendary rules, and the rules for this set) as opposed to just trying to learn it right out of the box.

For me the very WORST thing about this game – more than the confusing rules – is the fact that it is not really a cooperative game at all, since there are rules, which are specifically not optional in this game (though they apparently are in some other Legendary games) on how to figure out a winner.  According to the game designers, there are certain cards in the game that simply don’t function quite right, or won’t be used to their full potential, if you don’t use the showdown rules at the end.  Making the showdown mandatory strikes me as strange, since there was no big showdown between the heroes at the end of the movie – it wasn’t The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

This is probably not a big deal to most people. It irritates me particularly because co-op games are my subgenre of choice in board gaming.

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“Now this really pisses me off to no end!”

The above caveats aside however, once you get around to actually playing the game, it runs smoothly and quickly, and it is fun using the characters from the movie to beat up the villains from the movie.  Running over people with the Pork Chop Express is a truly satisfying experience.

I don’t give out stars, but if I did I would give this one three.

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