Okay, so I'm just a bit of a Princess Bride freak. Which led me to reviewing three Princess Bride games — I'll get to the other two. Don't worry. And I hosted a Princess Bride party to bribe some people to play all three games in one day. Which they did. Because they're awesome.
Because I'm not a nice person (and because videos take a lot longer to make than written reviews do), I'm going to start with what ended up being the least favorite of the bunch. Sorry for the spoiler.
That doesn't mean you won't like it, of course, so do read on.
Just in case you didn't look at the picture, The Princess Bride: Miracle Pill works with two to six players ages 10 and up, which seems about right. It takes about 15 minutes to play.
It was designed by Phillip duBarry, who also created Courtier, which is a personal favorite. The illustrations are by Felicia Cano. It's published by Game Salute.
In Miracle Pill, you're trying to collect ingredients for Miracle Max so that he can revive the mostly dead Man in Black.
How It Works
The game is played in three rounds. Each round, players are dealt four cards. They choose one and pass one to the player on their right or left, depending on the round. Players pass cards, taking one at a time, until each player has four cards. (For the noobs out there, this is called card drafting).
Then each player chooses a card and plays it to the table. If the card is played face up, its instructions are followed. If it is played face down, the player can use it later to pay for potion cards.
Players play three cards total. The last card in each player's hand is discarded.
Cards have different effects, and most are worth points at the end of the game. To buy a potion, players must sacrifice one or two cards from the cards they have already played.
Some cards multiply points when collected in sets. Others attack opponents, some are wild, and some give special bonuses at the end of the game.
The player with the most points wins.
Why you might like Miracle Pill:
The game works especially well with two players, since in the card drafting, you will get to see what your opponent took and perhaps snag a card you wanted the first time around.
I try not to care games in my reviews as I want to talk about them on their merits alone. But there's no denying that Miracle Pill gets inspiration from the award-wining 7 Wonders. It's like a shorter, lighter, more random, less expensive version.
The artwork is charming, and there are a few quotes from the movie interspersed throughout the cards.
Why you might not like Miracle Pill:
The game tries to fit the movie, but you don't feel like you're in The Princess Bride. The art, while charming, doesn't usually relate. And having players attack one another doesn't make sense thematically, given that the movie characters would all be after the same goal.
Some cards are much more powerful than others, and some are virtually unstoppable. Yes, it's a game about miracles, but it makes the game frustrating.
Getting a card that gives you immunity to attacks early in the game (like I did) practically hands you the game. Unless you get a 50-point card and then a card that triples any one card. (That happened, too.)
The folks I played with didn't like sacrificing cards, even for better ones. That may be because they had all played 7 Wonders, where you get to keep all the cards you play, using them throughout the game.
I didn't think that was a huge weakness, but it made it hard to strategize. I would choose a card for its value, but then if I wanted greater value, I had to give it up.
The drafting mechanism (where you choose cards and pass them) helps, but there aren't many choices, so usually one card is clearly optimal.
Miracle Pill is fighting a hard battle. It's similar to a beloved, well-known game. The question, then, is whether a lighter version of 7 Wonders is needed, and if it is, whether Miracle Pill can fill that void.
I can't answer whether a lighter version is needed.
What I can say is that the people I played with wanted the game to last longer and offer them more choices. They also wanted their strategy to build rather than shift.
So they wanted 7 Wonders instead of Miracle Pill.
Would that have been different if they had never played 7 Wonders? I don't know.
For me, the imbalance of the cards is a larger problem.
I like the game quite a lot with two people, but with more players, the powerful cards take over.
Other Reviewers' opinions
I could only find one other review of The Princess Bride: Miracle Pill. Forrest Bower of Bower's Game Corner was, frankly, merciless. He said the game was boring and bad. I think that's a bit too harsh and you should try it for yourself.
Sure. It's not hard, although it's a bit mean. You could probably take the attack cards out and it would be fine for a 10-year-old, maybe even a 9-year-old, though I wouldn't try much younger than that.
What my husband wants to do to the game
He wanted to take out some of the cards that made the game so unbalanced. He thinks it would play well with some of the most powerful cards gone.
Full disclosure: I received a review copy of The Princess Bride: Miracle Pill from Game Salute. That doesn't affect my ability to give an honest review.
One more note: Parts of this review first appeared on News for Shoppers, where I wrote it.