Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: A Gemstone Mining Game by USAopoly – Preview

Theme and What is it?

As one of Snow White’s Seven Dwarfs, you work hard to make sure she is happy. The other six dwarfs work hard too, but you know you are her favorite. One way to make Snow White happy, is to bring her valuable, precious gemstones. In exchange for these gemstones, that are mined in quantities to support kingdoms, Snow White is willing to trade you her homemade pies. Yeah, that sounds fair! It never even dawns on you that Snow White is running one of the biggest rackets in the world. She turns around and sells the gemstones for unbelievable amounts of black-market cash and pays you with a pie. In the world of dwarf’s, ignorance is bliss. Just keep making that lady happy, and you can eat pie until your heart’s content.

Ok, all joking about Snow White’s subjugation of these poor unsuspecting dwarfs aside, we can talk about a really great game.

Players take the role of one of Snow Whites’ Seven Dwarfs and brave the dangerous mines to collect gemstone, which will be given to Snow White in exchange for pies. The player with the most pie points at the end of five working days wins!

Gameplay Mechanics

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: A Gemstone Mining Game (hereafter referred to as The Mining Game) is a press your luck collection game. At the start of the game, players select a dwarf and take a mine cart that has their dwarf’s picture on it. Each player is dealt five action cards. These cards can be used to steal gems from other players or give unwanted obsidian pieces to them, as well as other actions. There are reaction cards in the action card deck that will let you counter some of these cards. Starting with the player with the longest beard (or the shortest player if no one has a beard) each player can take one of three actions. 1. Mine a gem. 2. Play an action card. 3. Leave the mine. As long as players are in the mine, you continue around the table letting each player take an action. The work day ends when all players have left the mine. 

When players choose to Mine a gem, they reach into a black bag and draw one gem. These gems are worth different pie points based on their scarcity. Also, in the bag are obsidian pieces. These are not worth anything.  When a player draws a second obsidian piece on the same work day, then they have a work place accident and must leave the mine. When leaving the mine, they forfeit all gems earned that turn. When this happens, that player receives an experience token which negates an obsidian drawn on a future turn. 

Each day Snow White asks for different combinations of gems.  The first player who leaves the mine with that combination receives a bonus. All players who leave the mine of their own choice, without having an accident, score their gems. If players have sets of three or four of the same gem-type, they can multiply the value of other gems during scoring. If players can collect five or six different gem types, they receive bonuses for that too. Players receive pie tokens equal to the total value of their gems. The mine carts are reset and each player receives one action card, and the next work day begins. This is repeated over five work days. At the end of day five, all scores are added together and the player with the most pie points wins!

Initial Impressions

I thought that The Mining Game would be one that my kids loved. I figured it was not a game I would be interested in other than spending time with my kids. I was definitely wrong. I have enjoyed playing. The game has some great mechanics and the press your luck style means that anyone can mess up their whole game just by getting greedy. After a few play throughs I had a win under my belt, but I also had a few big-time losses to the kids. The press your luck aspect is a major mechanic in the game, but there is great depth because of the action cards and treasure chests (which allow players to hold gems between work days). The action cards have some awesome “gotcha” moments. These moments can be even more fun when the player getting “got” plays a reaction card and counters the “gotcha” moment. That is just a lot of fun. My kids loved the game. They laughed. They got mad at people who stole their gems. They groaned and threw their heads down on the table when they drew their second obsidian piece. So many highs and so many lows all in one place.

Game Build Quality

USAopoly really out did themselves with this game. The components are all amazing. The gemstones are great plastic pieces. The kids can’t get enough of these. I have found them sneaking the game out and just playing with the gemstones. The boards are high quality, and when you flip the boards over they have scenes from the movie on them. These don’t do anything in the game, they are just thoughtful ways to enhance the experience. 

Artistic Direction

When you do licensed games, there is not much wiggle room when it comes to how the game is going to look. The Mining Game stays very true to the classic artwork of the original Disney Snow White movie. But it does a good job of not feeling dated. Maybe that is because of the timeless nature of the animated movie. I am not sure. But it feels modern. It must take a talented individual to work on licensed projects. They have to recreate someone else’s artwork and remain true to it or fans will abandon it. Yet, they must create something new that brings people to it. That seems like a fine line to walk.

Fun Factor

What really makes this fun is the push your luck element. Like I mentioned above, it brought excitement and anticipation to our games. Because the actions are usually quick choices, the game moves very quickly. The little down time between actions lets players review their action cards to see what they want to do on their next action. Even when players leave the mine, because of their own choice or an accident, they do not have to sit around long. In our games these players would start adding up their gem totals while they waited for everyone else to finish and then help the other players once everyone was out of the mine. We played The Mining Game three days in a row because we had so much fun with it.

Age Range & Weight

This game is recommended for 8+. There is reading involved on the action cards. My six-year-old had a tough time with some of the cards, so we showed him the pictures and explained what the cards did and he memorized them based on the image. After that, he knew what card he wanted to play and started using more action cards. He was able to be competitive and really enjoyed the game. He learned some valuable lessons about being too greedy as he tried pressing his luck every single work day. He quickly learned that was not a good idea. I would say that as long as kids are able to read and comprehend the cards, then they should have no issues playing and enjoying the game.

Conclusions

I did not know what to expect with a Snow White game. It seems like licensed games can be a hit or a miss. This game was a huge hit for us and the kids. It was entertaining and plays quickly. We laughed and had a great time together and you can’t ask for much more from a family game. The kids want to teach it to their cousins and can’t wait for the next time they are together. It is a game I would take to my adult game nights. All ages and gamer experience levels can enjoy this game. It is easy to teach and because it has a strong press your luck element even new players can come away victorious over more experienced players. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: A Gemstone Mining Game takes almost as long to say as it does to hop in and really enjoy a solid family gaming experience.