In this cooperative, deck building campaign game of six adventures of increasing difficulty, players take on the role of iconic Toys Story characters, to overcome a series of dangers and hazards, and bring about a Happily Ever After Ending for all.
The game is set up like so:
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The rule book does an excellent job of making it clear how to set up the game and walks players step-by-step through the game play. So, this will just be a quick overview of how to prepare the first game.
We will start with the Adventure Track on the top left corner of the board and the Token at the start space. Shuffle the square Danger cards and set them on the designated space. Then prepare the Hazard cards; set aside the “Escape from Sid” card and place it face down on the board so that it will be right at the bottom of the Hazard deck. Shuffle the remaining Hazard cards and place them on top. Then, reveal the top card face-up in the space below the Hazard deck.
Each player takes on the role of a toy and has an individual starting deck of 10 Adventure Cards. Shuffle these and place them to each player mat’s left hand side. Once the rest of the Adventure Cards are shuffled and stacked face down, reveal the top six cards in the spaces to form a market. Players draw 5 cards from their individual deck to begin.
Each turn in the game consists of 4 steps in this order.
At the beginning of a turn, players reveal and resolve Danger cards one at a time according to how many are indicated by the token on the Adventure Track. In this first game, only one Danger card is revealed each turn. Consecutive Adventures have increasing numbers of Danger cards to be resolved. Dangers may affect the active player or all players and vary from losing 1 Health, discarding a card, or advancing the token 1 space forward on the Adventure Track. Resolved cards are then placed in the discard pile.
When Dangers are resolved, continue on to Hazard cards. Hazard cards may build on previous Adventures or be played as a different mechanism in later Adventures. Some Hazards effects occur once, some occur repeatedly over each player’s turn, and others can be triggered by certain conditions such as losing Health or advancing the Adventure Track token. These effects take place immediately. Resolving these Hazards requires a cooperative effort to acquire sufficient Insight tokens which are gained during a player’s next step.
After Dangers and Hazards are resolved, players then play their hand of cards in any order they wish to gain resources and generate effects. Set cards aside as they are played and keep any Imagination and Insight tokens on the player mat. Imagination tokens allow players to purchase additional Adventure cards to build a more powerful deck. Multiple purchases are possible and new cards acquired are added to the Discard pile unless otherwise noted.
Experienced players may not need to collect Imagination tokens during their turn and may, instead, just add them up mentally to spend on the market later. However, Insight tokens should be collected and placed under the designated Hazard cards. When the number of Insight tokens assigned to a Hazard equals its value, the Hazard is overcome and all players gain the reward. Bear in mind both Insight and Imagination tokens do not roll over after a player’s turn and players may shuffle their Discard pile to replenish their draw deck when it is exhausted.
End of Turn
Then we refresh the board for the next player. If a Hazard was overcome this turn, replace it with a new one from the Hazard stack. Also, replace any empty Adventure card slots in the market, placing repeated cards on top of each other so that there are always six different Adventure cards on display. Any remaining unused Insight and Imagination tokens are returned to the stock. All cards played from a player’s hand should be placed in the Discard pile and a new hand of 5 cards drawn. The game ends in victory when the toys have overcome all the Hazards before the token reaches the end of the Adventure Track!
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This game was such an easy sell to my kids. After all, which kid doesn’t like Toy Story? Each new adventure follows a storyline from the movie and has its own themed track that follows. So we always look forward to opening the next box to see how they would incorporate key moments in the movie with new Dangers, Hazards and Adventure cards, and how new Toys’ roles and personalities are characterized through their abilities, effects and resources.
I like that the complexity of the game deepens as the toys journey through the campaign. Every new box adds in more cards to the mix so even though we have played up to Box 4, there are quite a number of cards from the previous adventures that we have not yet seen or played. But from what we have seen, our family has been able to strategize how to manage Health points, build powerful decks and gain as many Insight tokens to thwart the dangers and hazards together.
Each new box definitely ups the ante. Between the time pressure on the Adventure Track to complete the tasks, the consequences of drawing an increasing number of danger cards, and working together to resolve the progressively complex Hazards, it can seem daunting. Luckily our kids enjoy a tough challenge. In our last two games, we did not expect to fare well in the game. Yet, somehow, we got by scrappily with a sigh of relief and disbelief, much like the Toys manage to find their resolutions in the movie franchise.
Each adventure adds a different flavor. New components and variances in play mean the game does not get stale, but rather keeps players on their toes. With more cards added each time, the game will get longer and longer, the deeper we are into the story. This makes the game much more than a filler and a bit past its point as a family weight game. So do not be fooled by the name. It is not light-weight. It has been a family event around the game table. Still, I wish the designers offered suggestions to shorten the game play for a younger gamer’s limited attention span or offer alternatives for easier rules so the game is as approachable as the movies.
Is there replayability? As a campaign game, there is less compulsion to repeat a successful Adventure. But the game is difficult enough that you might need a few re-do’s to properly beat the game. We had to re-play Adventure 2 twice when the token reached the end of the Adventure Track before we could put right the Hazards. And whilst we were successful in Adventure 4 the first time around, the consensus was that it felt like a fluke since we really sweated through the game and got shelved quite a number of times. So, we will be playing that until we feel confident it is an accomplished victory.
YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND IN ME
Part of the game’s draw for me is that the family has to work together. The cooperative nature is highly encouraged and players actually do better and accomplish more when they rope in the other toys during their turn. Active players can award health, Insight and Imagination tokens to other players which are allowed to accumulate till the end of the other player’s turn. There are also ways to synergize everyone’s player powers as well as create chains from adventure cards in other players’ hands. For example, you might gain 2 hearts for yourself or opt for all players to gain 1 heart instead.
The production quality is top notch. Small details such as the token on the Adventure track have a nice heft and weight since they are made of metal. There are Separator cards to keep everything tidy in the box as more components are added. The rule book even has slots on the back cover to keep the additional rules from new boxes organized for easy reference. The artwork is on point.
There is a lot of game in this box. If you’re a fan of Toy Story, this is a no-brainer. Certainly do not let the title mislead you, seasoned gamers will not find this game to be child’s play.