Renegade Games has published an exclusive game for International Tabletop Day, the Hallmark holiday for gaming nerds created by Geek and Sundry (Felicia Day/Wil Wheaton) in 2013. That game is called Wonderland, a two-player card game set in the magically weird world of Alice in Wonderland. Wonderland is designed by Daniel Solis and beautifully illustrated by Beth Sobel.
In Wonderland, one player plays the Red Queen and the other, Alice. Each player has a hand of seven cards (numbered 1-7). While the card values are identical, their art is unique and themed for the respective sides.
The game play is simple. Players each place three of their cards into a row, face down. The Red Queen places her cards vertically, and Alice horizontally. This creates the x and y axis of an imaginary 3×3 grid. These six cards are the cards that players will attempt to win during the game. Players then take turns placing their remaining cards face up into one of the spots in the grid, forming rows and columns. The number on each card is its strength, and after the cards are placed, players will score the rows and columns to determine who wins the respective face down card. The player who has acquired the highest total value of cards wins the game.
Adding to the strategy is the fact that some cards have poison or cake symbols on them. Cake symbols double the score of the card they are touching. Poison symbols make the card they are touching worth zero points. This creates an added layer of choice when placing cards into the grid. Also, there is a bit of bluffing involved in placing the initial face down cards. If you place a low number then you are reducing the points available to be won. If you use a higher number, you will reduce the strength of your face up cards that can be placed in the grid to win cards. This creates a satisfying amount of tension in such a short and easy game.
Wonderland comes with four extra cards that act as modifiers to the scoring at the end of the game. These are optional and designed to add some variability. Since each player is placing four face-up cards into a nine-space grid, there is always an empty space on the table. Alice gets to place one of these extra cards at the end of the game into the empty space. This can possibly add some balance to the game since the Red Queen always goes first.
I think Wonderland is a solid little two-player game that takes about 10 minutes. It has a give and take similar to games like Tic Tac Toe or Connect Four but with the table presence of a work of art. The cards are gorgeous and provide an edgy take on the Alice In Wonderland theme. We were playing Wonderland in a beer garden and several passersby mentioned how pretty it looked. The card bag (think Love Letter) adds a nice touch as well. All in all, I was impressed. Don’t miss out on Wonderland, lest you be a Mad Gamer.
Gotta run now. The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.
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