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Lucky’s Misadventures from Great North Games – Review

The theme is unique with a fresh application of interesting mechanics.

Theme and What is it?

Lucky’s Misadventures is a deck builder that starts with a lovely bit of story. You and your dog Lucky have gotten trapped in the world of Oddtopia. Now you have to travel around Oddtopia meeting new people, enlisting allies, and building clockwork wonders. In the end you will either gain enough influence to rule Oddtopia or find a way home through magic, trickery, or weird-science. Will you and Lucky manage to find a way home? Will fate and fortune favor your way? Or why do you need to feed the toad?

Gameplay Mechanics

Lucky’s Misadventures is a deck builder. You start with a small deck of basic cards and over the course of fourteen rounds you’ll add powerful cards to your deck, remove weaker cards, and build machines that stay in play to give you an advantage.

Each round begins by, “Feeding the Toad.” The player with the first player token will flip three cards from the fate deck. Most of the time each card will feature one of the three suits called Minor Arcana that denote what effects will trigger special abilities. However, occasionally, they will reveal a Major Arcana; a character that will add a rule to the round. The fate deck also times the game. You’ll go through the Fate deck twice; the second time you empty it you end the game. The deck also has a level of mystery too it since both times you shuffle it you remove the top three cards and set them aside face down so no one is ever certain what is still in the deck.

The game round goes in phases. The first phase has players choose three cards from their five card hand to play face down in front of themselves. After everyone’s chosen their cards you revel your hands. Players then go in turns to buy new cards from the middle. These can be allies from one of three factions or junk cards that can be used to build powerful machines. Players can also play abilities that are triggered by the minor arcana’s.

After that players will compete for the influence of two of the games factions. If you have more influence with the Wickeds faction you can recruit an ally for free and if you have the most Tinkerer influence you may take a piece of Junk. Which ally or junk you can choose will be based on how much you win the influence competition.

After this is done players can choose to discard any of the cards still in their hands and then draw back up to five cards.

 

This continues until fourteen rounds have been played or someone completes one of three instant win conditions in the game. Instant win conditions require getting a specific set of cards into play at the same time. These acts are extremely challenging but never impossible. If you pay all fourteen rounds without an instant win condition being met, then the winner is based on victory points found on the cards in their decks.

Initial Impressions

I Like deck builders and I thought the story for this one was very interesting. The theme was unique and the mechanics of using influence to get free cards plus the use of machines and instant win conditions felt new and unique enough to make this an interesting idea for me. I was excited to try it and see how everything worked together.

Game Build Quality

This game is all about the cards and their quality. It was said during a play session, “If your game is only a deck of cards they should be of good quality.” The folks at Great Northern Games took that idea to heart. Card quality here is very good. Everything felt sturdy and the texture and quality of the cards was very nice. They feel like they’ll hold up to the abuse that deck builders tend to go through. That said, I think you’ll want to sleeve these but won’t have to do it right away.

Artistic Direction

I love the art in this game. It has a fun quality that’s just the right side of creepy while still being cartoon like. It features a lot of characters you’ll recognize from different stories and they all look quite good. The junk cards as evocative as the characters but still give off a different esthetic. Everything here works well and looks pretty. I’d love to find posters of some of the character cards for my wall, such as Alice, pumpkin Ted, or Steve Punk. 

Fun Factor

This is a very competitive deck builder. There is a hefty bit of take that on some of the cards but nothing that felt like a major setback. Most of your time will be spent building your own engine. There are two major arcana in the fate cards that will upset your plans but they can be recovered from. You also start with a card that will prevent other players from messing with you so that helps stall out some of the things that can happen. 

Age Range & Weight

The box says 10+ and I think that’s shooting a bit low. My friends and I are full blown adults and we had a bit of trouble keeping up with the terminology and focus of the game. I think younger players could get frustrated quickly trying to figure out who gets to do what in the game. This might be especially featured during the Wicked and tinker phase of the game. I think this game is probably better for older players, maybe late teens. 

Conclusions

I really like Lucky’s Misadventure’s. The setting came alive with the short three paragraph set-up and the cards in the game. While the theme isn’t really there, the images pulled me in by using familiar characters from a number of sources. Oddtopia is a nice mix of Wonderland and Oz. I want Great Northern Games to think about designing a role-play game setting for Oddtopia. Everything plays well and sits nicely in a great place.

The instant win conditions feel like they might over balance the game but they are difficult to pull off. Though they never feel impossible. I found trying to set yourself up for one of them to be an interesting challenge to play towards but never focus on. Building the Time machine requires the only two copies of a specific piece in the game. You may not go all the way through the junk deck to see both of them. Focusing only on that may not lead you to victory. However, you can focus on junk and machines while hoping to get the pieces to build the time machine and still do quite well.

Getting to hang onto up to two cards from one round to the next can be really useful for setting up combinations. This can lead to having a really great turn because you’ve held the perfect cards. However, the fate deck can punish you for this if you’re not careful or lucky. This adds some nice push your luck elements to the game that I found really exciting.

The decisions in the game are fun and felt meaningful. Even if on the very next turn the death card would come up and shatter everything. I always felt like there was enough for me to do that I could enjoy what was coming ad how it would unfold.

 

In the end, I’m adding Lucky’s Misadventures into my collection. I had a lot of fun and look forward to playing again. If you get a chance to give the game a try at your local store or convention I say take a couple of minutes and sit through a couple of rounds. It’s a long strange trip with some wonderful sites to see.