-Easy to play
-Good for most all ages
-Quick play time
-Simple but challenging
-High number of event spaces may frustrate
Sugarplum Chronicles is an upcoming game that will be launched on Kickstarter on October 2nd and I got my hands on an advance copy to put it through its paces.Uh
SP is kind of a mash-up of Candy Land and a role-playing game. A curse has fallen over the land of Sugarplum, with no one sitting on the Frosted Throne. You and the other players take on the role of Dream Mages and go on an adventure across Sugarplum’s four realms in order to be the first one to get to the throne and therefore wear the crown as the land’s Ruler.
Along the way, you do battle with a wide variety of creatures and confront your nightmares, all the while trying to hinder the other Dream Mages, who have the same goal as you.
As mechanics go you battle the creatures in the same fashion you would a standard role-playing game, doing damage using a 20-sided die while also trying to keep your HP as full as possible. If you are defeated, you are thrust back to the beginning of the realm you are currently in, with the added penalty of losing one item in your inventory; if you have any.
Along your journeys, you will have the chance to visit shops to by items to help you, such as: spells, armour and weaponry, which will strengthen your attack & defense, as well as increase your chances of victory the next time you do battle. There are also Landmark spaces, which have different consequences depending on your roll of a standard six-sided die. You may have to do battle, draw a Slumber card, or you could get lucky and earn a Lemon Drop; is the game’s form of currency.
The red spaces around the board are Event spaces, where most of the combat takes place. You draw from the corresponding realm deck and have to follow its instructions. Most of the time, this will involve battling a creature, but there are also single-event cards that may give you extra perks or one-time punishments, and may not require any combat at all.
There are also special red Gingerbrute spaces. The Gingerbrutes are a different kind of enemy you combat with the six-sided die. You can also purchase them, if you have Lemon Drops available, so that the other players will have to combat them instead, increasing your chances of winning.
The Slumber spaces reveal either a Dream or Nightmare card. The Nightmares have consequences that usually don’t benefit you, while the Dreams always work in your favour through a variety of prizes.
Now, the goal is to get to the crown first, but even if you succeed, the game is not over. At that point, you become the Ruler. The Ruler avoids the consequences of all red Event spaces, and gets paid by the citizens of Sugarplum before every turn. From that point, it’s a battle to the death, as the other players will try to kill you before you kill them (or they are killed in events), and all deaths are final. That means no respawns at the beginning of the realm from that point in time.
The game is for everyone 10 years old and up, and you can play most games in about an hour. The set-up is pretty simple, but can be difficult to master thanks to the various paths you can take to the crown on the board, as well as the pure luck of the draw in both the Event and Slumber cards. My family and I (myself, my wife and my 8 year-old daughter) played a game and finished it right around the hour mark. There were very few hiccups, and rarely did anything have to be explained twice to any of us, thanks to a pretty clearly-written instruction booklet, as well as clear directions on all the cards.
The only ambiguity we came across was one relating to red markers included in the game, but there was no word in the booklet on how they were used. I contacted Thomas O’Halloren, the creator of the game, and he cleared things up, saying the red markers are for your ATK attribute, specifically if you happen upon a card or event that decreases your attack power, you can mark next to it as a reminder of your status. Hopefully, he clears that up in the final version of the booklet, but beyond that, everything was very clearly detailed and easy to understand.
On a whole, Sugarplum Chronicles is an enjoyable experience that is easily played in a short amount of time and is good for the whole family. Even though it suggests 10 years and up, as I stated, my daughter is 8, and she had no problems playing through the game (in fact, she nearly beat me), so if you have kids younger than that, there’s a strong chance they’ll still be able to enjoy it with you.
This being said, although it is family friendly, it’s also advanced enough for adults to enjoy at your weekly game night with friends or whatever. My family and I made a few mistakes with the rules, but we learned from them, fixed any issues as we went along and rarely had to reread the instructions, which is always a good sign.
Currently, the game is unavailable to the public, but as I said at the beginning, will be going live on Kickstarter next month. You can follow the game’s progress until then, as well as get updated announcements on the official Facebook page.
As it is I think it’s worth getting funded, and I wish Tom and his teem at Noirtoony Labs success in October.