Ever thought about running away and joining the circus, or perhaps starting your very own circus? No? Well, me either. But just in case you want to see what it would be like, The Magnificent can show you. In The Magnificent, by Aporta Games you are running your own traveling circus, going from town to town, setting up tents, hiring performers and making the greatest show on Earth.
What is The Magnificent like?
At first glance, The Magnificent may look like a mish-mash of mechanics and too many things going on. For the most part, that first glance is not wrong. However, once you play the game it all comes together in a smooth and satisfying way.
The Magnificent is a dice-drafting game lasting 3 rounds. Each round you have limited actions each turn, but the decisions are what makes the game amazing. To start the round, all of the dice are rolled and each turn you draft one die that you will assign to a ringmaster. Each ringmaster card gives you a bonus and then you can either travel with your circus (using a rondel), build your camp (using a tetris-style mechanic) or complete a performance.
When using a die to travel with your circus the colour of the die determines which track upon which you travel and the value of the die determines how far you can go. For every spot on the track that you pass/land on you get the item depicted. Each track has spots with gems, posters (representing your performers) and tents (used for performances). All tracks are shared, so the circus caravan may move before you can take your turn, leaving the items you need out of your reach
Spending a die to build camps allows you to take tiles of the die’s colour. The higher the value of the die, the larger or more camp pieces you will be able to obtain. Each colour’s pieces are unique shapes and come in large or small sizes. When you place the camp pieces on your player board you may cover spaces that give you bonus money, points, etc. In addition to that, each performer will require certain sizes of camps in order to perform.
When performing with a die you are able to perform with each performer that is at a tent token (received while traveling) and in which you have all of their requirements including camp pieces, gem etc. The higher the value of the die allows you to perform with more than one performer at a time. Each performance earns you rewards depending on the tents and performers used.
Each round consists of 4 actions and then at the end of the round each player will get a new ringmaster card and trainer token. The ringmaster card is where you place yoru dice each round and give you a bonus when you do so. You always have four ringmaster cards, so when you select a die, you select a card to place it on which then gives you a bonus, such as a +1 to orange dice, 1 dollar, etc. The trainer tokens provide another option for where you can place your trainer to gain even more bonuses.
After selecting the ringmaster card and trainer token, each player chooses one ringmaster card to score for that round. They could select the one they just received or any one they had previously. Also, each player must pay for the dice that they chose. Their total cost is the number of pips on the colour of dice that has the highest value plus any pips on the white (wild) dice they chose.
The game ends after 3 rounds and the player with the most points wins. The points come from a wide variety of actions and not just from the ringmaster cards at the end of the round.
There is a lot more to this game that I can’t go into, but trust me when I say that even though it may look overwhelming at first, it comes together really well. Even though I think The Magnificent is a fantastic game, it is a heavy game, so be aware of that.
My favorite aspect of The Magnificent is that you can take your time building your camp and recruiting performers to put together an amazing show with multiple performers or you can do smaller shows more often and they both seem like viable ways to win.
Another great aspect is how you can boost the power of the dice. You can use earlier collected gems and trainers to boost a die value above six. Or you could opt for selecting dice of the same colour or white “wild” ones as you tally their values then. Be aware however that… the higher the value of dice you have used for that round means the more they cost to pay for them.
- Simple options, with deep strategic chooses
- The mix of mechanics works surprisingly well
- Adding the value of all like-coloured chosen dice and doing a super-powered turn is very satisfying
- The puzzle of having the right performer, tent, camp pieces, etc. to put on an amazing show is tough, but it provides a kind of guide for each turn, giving you an idea of what to do
- It can take 1 round to understand what is really happening and there are only 3 rounds
- The theme falls apart with some actions, like camp building or using gems as extra power-ups
- The art style is a mix of pretty amazing and pretty just ok
- Players: 1 – 4
- Playing time: 60 – 90 minutes
- Suggested age: 14+
A review copy of The Magnificent was supplied by Aporta Games