Super Mega Lucky Box
- Designer: Phil Walker Harding
- Publisher: Gamewright
- Players: 1-6
- Age: 8+
- Time: 20 minutes
- Times played: 6 with review copy provided by publisher
Super Mega Lucky Box (SMLB) feels like it’s the tenth new Phil Walker-Harding game I’ve played this summer. (It’s not… it just feels that way!) And, amazingly, each of those PWH games has been different in style/genre. SMLB is PWH’s take on the R+W field – combining aspects that will feel familiar from other games to create a fresh twist for this game.
There are 60 Lucky Box cards in the game, each with a 3×3 grid of numbers (between 1 and 9) and a bonus found at the end of each row and column in the grid. Each player is dealt 5 of these cards at the start of the game, and from this set, they choose to keep 3 cards face up on the table to start the game. Each player also gets a scoring card where they can track their scores as well as four green lightning tokens. There is a deck of 18 number cards (two each of 1 to 9) which is shuffled and then nine cards are dealt off to create the number deck for this round.
The game is played over four rounds, each made up of nine turns. On each turn, the top card of the number deck is flipped over and all players then cross off one matching number in one of the 3×3 grids on their Lucky Box cards. That’s right – you write directly onto the cards here! Only one instance of the number can be crossed off, even if that number is visible multiple times. Players can use their Lightning tokens to modify the card number by +/- 1. This can be done multiple times, and the numbers loop around so that a 9 can be changed into a 1, and vice versa. If a player does not have a matching number (and chooses not to use Lightning tokens to change the number), nothing gets crossed off.
Once a number has been crossed off, check to see if you have completed a full row or column on the card. If so, you then get the bonus seen at the end of that row or column. It might be a number, and this allows you to cross of this number somewhere on another card (note – you cannot change this bonus number with Lightning tokens). If it is a question mark, you can cross off any number. If you see a Lightning Bolt or a Moon, collect the corresponding wooden piece. Finally, if it is a star, circle the left most open star for this round on your scorecard. It is possible to chain multiple bonuses together – that is, you might finish a row, giving you a bonus “2”, and then crossing off a “2” somewhere else finishes another row which then gives you 2 lightning bolts.
Continue this process for nine rounds until the entire number deck is used up. Now, check to see if any of your cards are completely filled in – if so, score for the card on your scoring card and then erase the card and put it in the discards. Note that you score more points for a completed card when you do it earlier in the game. Then, each player gets dealt 3 new Lucky Box cards, chooses to keep 1 of them and discards the other two. The number deck is made for the next round, and the game continues. At the end of the fourth round, there is the final scoring.
Scoring – during the four rounds, you will have scored points for completed Lucky Box cards and for star bonuses each round. You will also score 1 point for each pair of marked off spaces on your remaining cards. Finally, the player with the most Moon tokens collected will get +6 points and the player with the lease Moon tokens collected will lose 6 points. The player with the most points wins, ties broken in favor of the player with the most Moon tokens collected.
My thoughts on the game
SMLB is a deceivingly easy game – I think in part because there really isn’t a unique mechanism in the game. You cross stuff off and make combos like Ganz Schoen Clever. You write on the cards like Divvy Dice. But, the combination is nice, and I think there is a lower level of complexity than Ganz Schoen Clever – and that makes it a lot more accessible to family gamers.
SMLB is the sort of game that you can dump out on the table and explain in about 3 minutes. The only sort of advanced bit about it is the construction of the number deck, but it’s really not that hard, and it’s easy enough to explain. I guess the Lightning bolt usage sometimes needs an extra explanation, but overall, the game is dead simple.
Play goes quickly as each player only has to worry about their own stuff. There is no race aspect and only minimal competition in the game (for the Moon tokens). Heck, if you had enough sets of cards and dry erase markers, there really isn’t a limit to the number of players that could play SMLB at once…. Every player is involved on each card flip, so time seems to move quickly – with players being engaged on every turn.
We have found that it is nice for the first few turns to go around the table in order so that all players can see what everyone else is doing (and get some repetition in examples of play), but after those first few turns, play can be done simultaneously, and it seriously flies by. Most of our games are in the 10-12 minute range at this point as one of us flips up the number card, and then we simply wait for everyone to exclaim “Done!” so that we can move to the next card.
While it start to feel like the world maybe had enough Roll and Write games, SMLB has been a interesting breath of fresh air for the genre. For me, I like the fact that it doesn’t try to be complicated – this isn’t a R+W that is trying to hide a full blown game in the box (see Hadrian’s Wall). In this case, it’s an unabashed quick filler, and it is great in that space. If you’re looking for something light and fun that can be played by almost anyone, SMLB is a great choice this summer!
Until your next appointment
The Gaming Doctor