- Designer: Ludovic Maublanc
- Publisher: Repos
- Players: 4-8
- Age: 8+
- Time: 30 minutes
- Played with review copy provided by Repos
So, let’s go back down memory lane for a bit. Imagine a time when W. Eric Martin didn’t exist. Well, maybe he existed, but his SPIEL preview file on Boardgamegeek didn’t exist. In such a Dark Age, there was nearly zero way to get advance information about boardgames. People would actually fly all the way to Essen to go to SPIEL and NOT have a indexed, cross-referenced list of which games they want to buy, and which games are only to be looked at because they were only available for demo…
In those difficult years, you never knew what you were going to find at SPIEL. Heck, that was a lot of the romance of the show. You’d go from booth to booth, trying stuff out, hoping like heck that someone at the stand spoke English, or else you’d just have to figure it out from watching the game and via pantomime. It didn’t matter that the rules were only in German – because pretty much everything was in German. If the game looked good, you’d buy it (it was easier back then when the exchange rate was $0.64 to 1 EUR), and then wait until someone translated it and posted it the Gaming Dumpster or they might snail mail you a mimeographed copy of their translation.
Walking around the show in… um, 2005 (IIRC) – I remember being called into a demo of a game called Cash N Guns! I had never heard of the company before, and it was a bunch of French speaking fellows wearing sombreros! The game was a blast (see what I did there), and was quickly one of my favorite party games. It also started a great relationship with the nice folks at Repos.
Eighteen years later, I still like the game, but the world has changed a bit. I’m honestly reticent to bring out a game that involves foam guns being pointed at people. Yeah, I know it’s just a game, but in a world where there are active wars, mass shootings, etc… maybe the theme makes it a little less suitable for play. As a result, I haven’t played it in a few years, and honestly, I’m not sure that I would ever request in going forward.
So, I was happy to hear that a new version would be coming out. I knew a bit about it thanks to the aforementioned SPIEL preview, and I was hoping that this would be a great replacement for Cash N Guns. (If you don’t remember the original game, check out the review of it by OG writer Greg Schloesser – https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/228700/cash-n-guns-review)
In this game, players will split up into different Hogwart’s houses – there are setup cards that help you figure out where people should sit and which positions are in which houses. The game plays 4-8 players, and there are rules to deal with odd numbers of people; but we have definitely found that the game plays best with an even number of players so that the teams are even. We have gone so far as to make a house rule for 5 and let someone play the Muggles, or Wiggles, or whatever they want to be called to allow for each house to be represented by the same number of players.
Each player gets a wand, a set of 8 spell cards (5 Misspell and 3 Stupefy), and a standee declaring your house alliance. The game will be played over 8 rounds, and at the end of the game, the House which has scored the most points will win, and all members of that House will win together! Someone is named the first Favorite, and they get the Standee that acts as the reminder of all the phases. As the current Favorite player will manage the game, only one player aid is really needed.
To start each round, the “Become the Favorite” card is placed in the center of the table, and then 8 Reward cards are placed face up on the table around it to form a 3×3 grid. Players secretly and simultaneously choose a Spell card (again, either a Mis-spell or a Stupefy), and place it face down.
Now, the Favorite asks players to target an opponent, saying something like “Wizards, target someone on 1… 2….. 3!”. On the count of 3, all players now point their wand at someone else. Everyone gets a chance to look around to see who is pointing at whom (though most importantly, they should see who is pointing at themself!)
The Favorite now asks everyone to “Cast your spell on 1….. 2….. 3!”. Again, on exactly the count of 3, all players do one of the following:
- Protego – Shout “Protego!”, and hold your wand in front of your face. You are voluntarily taking yourself out of the round, and you knock your house standee over. You do not cast your spell, and it is discarded facedown so that no one knows what it was. You cannot be hit by any Stupefy spells either.
- Stupefy – Shout “Stupefy!” and continue to point your wand at the target. Of course, you have to have played a Stupefy card in order to do this.
- Misspell – If you have played a Misspell card, simply lower your wand and don’t say anything.
Then it is time to apply the spells. Anyone targeted by a Stupefy spell who is unprotected (that is, they did not cast a Protego spell on themselves) is hit. They lay their house marker down, and they take 1 Delay token per Stupefy spell targeted at them. Their own spell card is discarded face up. Note that all Stupefy spells resolve simultaneously so it is possible to hit someone with your Stupefy while being Stupefied yourself. Anyone who is Stupefied must discard their spell card face up.
All players who are still standing – those who did not cast a Protego spell, and those who were not targeted by a Stupefy – now get to take rewards from the table. Starting with the current Favorite and going clockwise, players choose one of the 9 possible reward cards. This continues until all the rewards are taken. The different types are:
- Point cards – worth 10, 20 or 40 points
- Private Lessons – discard one of your Misspell cards from your deck and add a Stupefy card from the discard pile (if any are available)
- Time-Turner – anyone in your house can discard one Delay token
- Become the Favorite – Take the Favorite standee next round, and also you can discard a Delay Token
- Successful potion – you get credit for one potion; place this in front of you (not in the box)
- Favor – these score at the end of the game
All point cards are shown publicly, and then they are slotted into the box corresponding to the player’s House – using slots and the box insert. Now, the round is over. Whoever took the “Become the Favorite” card takes the Favorite standee, and they get to return a Delay token to the supply. That card is placed back on the table and the other spaces are filled with new Reward cards from the deck. Repeat this to complete 8 rounds.
After the 8th round, it’s time to count up the points. The player with the most Potion cards gets the Potions Master card worth 100 points. If there is a tie for most, no one gets this. The player(s) with the most Delay tokens takes a Latecomer card which comes with a 100 point penalty. Each player also calculates the number of points they score for their Favor cards (somewhere from 0 to 1000 points). Finally, remove the cardboard cover from the box insert and grab the cards for your house and add that to the tally. The house with the most points wins!
My thoughts on the game
Well, this new version is fairly similar to Cash N Guns. Well, it doesn’t have guns. That’s a huge difference component wise. Also, it doesn’t have player elimination, which is a positive for me. Yeah, I know that I might be a bit touchy with the whole player elimination idea, and I generally don’t like it. Sure, there may have been some interesting/funny decisions to be made in Cash N Guns when you only had one life left – but I don’t feel like that the game is any less fun by not having elimination.
Here, you still have some bluffing – when you target someone, do you really have a Stupefy behind the wand? You’ll have to keep track of which players have managed to take more Private Lessons, as this will increase the chances that they are going to play a Stupefy.
Of course, you could try to target that person yourself, and maybe force them to protect themselves – if they do that, then they don’t cast their own spell card, and in that way, maybe you’ll be protected.
As I mentioned earlier, the game really only works well for me when there are the same number of players per house. Whether that’s making up a 5th house or just saving this to play with only even numbers is the play for me. To be fair, there are rules in the game to allow for uneven numbers of players, so don’t let this stop you from trying it when you have an odd number of people.
The components are well done, and the wands are fun to play with – and will also make excellent props for Halloween costumes! The box insert is well done, and I like the way that you can use the slots in the insert during the game itself to store your point cards scored during the game.
The theme is much more palatable than guns (for me at least), and the Harry Potter license will also help get a lot of gamer muggles interested in the game – this is power of games with a well known license.
The only downside I see of this game is that it is not available in the US. Repos apparently does not have the license of HP board games, and as a result they are not allowed to sell it here. FWIW, it can be had in Canada – https://www.amazon.ca/Stupefy-Wizarding-Players-30-Minutes-English/dp/B0BD5T2YG3
Or order an international version; there is some text on the reward cards, but as everyone sees them at the start of the round, they can be translated easily enough.
Stupefy! is heartily recommended, and it is a worthy successor to the original. I have no reservations at all playing the new game, and frankly with the movie tie-in, I probably have even more opportunity to bring it to the table. It’s a win-win for me.
Rating: I love it!
Until your next appointment,
The Gaming Doctor