Dale Yu: Review of Showtime

Showtime

  • Designers: Anna Oppolzer, Stefan Kloss
  • Publisher: Pegasus Spiele
  • Players: 2-4
  • Ages: 8+
  • Time: 20-30 minutes
  • Times played: 3, with review copy provided by Pegasus Spiele

In Showtime, players are trying to get their moviegoers into the best seats in the theater.  Just like in real life, sometimes your enjoyment of the movie is directly dependent on who surrounds you in the theater!  In the game, each player gets a deck of 16 cards – each of who has a different scoring criteria found on the bottom portion of the card.

The theater is constructed with one row of four seats for each player.  The screen is in the front of the theater, and there is a box office (and a red carpet leading to it) at the back.  Each player shuffles their deck of cards and draws a hand of four. The rest of their cards are available as a draw deck.  (Note, that though the people on the cards have names, they are really just generalizations – each deck is identical, that is to say that each deck has the same 16 characters in it – the only difference is the border of the card!)

The game is played over three rounds, each round representing a different movie screening.  At the start of each round, one of the four movie type posters is revealed next to the box office showing which movie is currently playing.  Then, starting with the first player, turns are taken in order. There are 3 phases to a turn: play a card, check for genre, draw a card.

The player aid is in the center to help you make sense of the colored icons

To play a card, choose a card from your hand and put it in an empty seat (there are a few exceptions to this – so look at the card to see the rules for placement). Then, check the favorite genre of that card – look at the upper right of the printed area on the card to see the genre icon.  If it matches the icon of the movie showing this round, immediately score 2 VPs – move your marker ahead on the red carpet leading to the box office! As you place your scoring piece, you move it as far to the front of the particular scoring space as you can. Finally, draw a card from your personal deck to replenish your hand to four cards.  That’s the whole turn. The game continues around the table until each player has played four cards – at this point, all the seats in the theater will be occupied. Now it’s time to move into the scoring phase of the round.

a game in progress

Starting with the person in the leftmost position of the front row.  There are two things to consider. First is the general enjoyment based on the location of the seat.  Look at the star icon in front of the seat and score that many VPs. Then look at the particular scoring rule for that person – you may need to consider the people seated in front of you, in back of you or in the same row as you.  In general, green seats depicted in the scoring area cause positive points and red seats lead to negative points. Move the score marker of the owning player accordingly. Then move to the next person card in the row. Continue going through the rows until all cards have been scored.

At the end of the scoring, all played cards are discarded from the game as is the movie poster.  A new movie poster is revealed for the next round. Players should already have a hand of four cards.  The start player token is given to the player with the lowest current score. They start the next round which is played in the same fashion.  At the end of the third round, the game ends. There is no endgame bonus scoring. The player with the most points wins the game. Ties go to the player furthest towards the front of the scoring space.

The movie posters

My thoughts on the game

Showtime is a nice family-level game – the scoring rules on the cards create a nice tactical placement game here where you try to work with your hand of cards to get them arranged as best you can in the theater.  At first, I thought that the theme didn’t make a lot of sense, but then… I can certainly see how my overall enjoyment of a movie would go down if I were sitting behind a tall person or if I was sitting next to someone who smelled of garlic!   

In our first two games, it took awhile to grok how the icons work on the cards, and I found that the game went much better once I simply made copies of the page in the rules which have the text explanations of the different characters. I would probably recommend that anyone with capabilities to make copies do this for a player aid.

Once you understand how the cards work, turns move along fairly quickly as it doesn’t take long to place a card and move on.  But, that’s not to say that it’s a simple decision as to where to play your cards. There are a number of things that you have to consider.  First, you’ll have to scan the theater to find out which empty seats have potential bonus or penalty points based on previously played people.  Then, you might want to see if you can cause havoc by creating penalties for previously played cards… Finally, you’ll want to try to play cards with matching favorite genres if possible as those 2VP bonuses add up.   It can be a little confusing at first, but like I said, once you get to know the cards, it really tends to play quickly.

My copy of the game included four special guest promo cards (and a rulesheet explaining how they work), and I’d probably recommend including them as they provide some added variety and interaction into the game.  Your group has a couple of different ways to use the cards, you can either just shuffle and draw randomly, or for a more tactical game, you can choose which 12 cards you want to use prior to playing and only shuffle those.

the promo cards

The components themselves are simple and solid. The game comes in a small Euro box, but it really comes down to a board, 80 cards and 4 meeples.  The twenty point score track is a little short, but I can see how it was necessary to do this as the cinema needs to be modular to have the correct number of rows in each game based on the player count.   The artwork is slightly caricature-ish – one weird quirk that I noticed when laying out the cards for pictures is that all the movie patrons are white. I’m not trying to create an issue where there isn’t one, but it just struck me as a little weird.

the whole selection of movie-goers

This is a game that I would certainly recommend for families, though I would probably say that you’d need to have at least one adult or gamer playing as some of the scoring rules / card combinations can get a little complex at times.  It’s probably a bit too light for serious gamers, but a nice filler given that you can play it in about 20 minutes.

Until your next appointment

The Gaming Doctor

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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