Posted by: gschloesser | August 6, 2011

Megastar

Design by:  Friedemann Friese
Published by:  Amigo & Mayfair Games
3 – 5 Players, 30 – 45 minutes
Review by:  Greg J. Schloesser  

Each Spiel in Essen, hundreds of folks eagerly descend upon Freidemann Friese’s 2F booth to see his latest creation.  Herr Friese has quite the reputation of developing creative designs, often with somewhat loony themes.  He has shown with Funkenschlag that he is more than capable of developing a deep strategy game, but most of his games are on the lighter side.  Lately, his creations are reaching an even wider audience, as many larger gaming companies are beginning to release his designs. 

I somehow managed to overlook one of his latest creations at last year’s Spiel.  Megastar was released by Amigo and Mayfair Games.  Even though I did play most of the Amigo releases, this one escaped my attention until recently.  

Borrowing heavily from the theme and mechanisms of Schrille Stille, Megastar places players in the role of radio director of a local radio station.  Players attempt to maneuver bands on the radio’s play list, attempting to balance the requests of listeners and the parent company.  The objective is to position your preferred bands at the top of the play list at game’s end.

Seven cards depicting musical acts are placed in a row known as the “hit parade”.  Each card is a different color, and the remaining cards each match one of the bands.  A handful of cards are removed from the game, and a further eleven are placed to the right of the hit parade in an area called the “music market”.  Finally, each player is dealt five cards, and places one of them face-down onto the table.  The musical tussling begins. 

Each player’s turn is usually extremely quick, and can almost be performed mindlessly.  Players place the card that is face-down before them to the left of the hit parade row into an area known as the “requests” area.  Like cards are grouped together.  The player then draws one card from the music market and one card from the deck into his hand.  He concludes his turn by placing one card face-down onto the table, which will be the card they play into the request section on their next turn. 

Once one band accumulates three cards in the requests section, a countdown is held.  Beginning at the band that currently resides at the top of the chart, each band is moved up a number of spaces equal to the number of matching cards in the request area.  So, if the pink band is currently rests in the fourth position on the hit parade and has two matching cards in the request area, it will move up two slots to the second position.  This makes it a bit easier for bands at the bottom of the list to move-up, and makes it more perilous for the top band as there is no way to go but down.  Once this countdown procedure is completed, all cards in the request area are moved to the music market, and the game continues. 

The game concludes when the deck is depleted.  All face-down cards in front of the players are placed in the requests area, and one final countdown is conducted.  At this point, each player reveals the cards they have in their hands and calculates their value, which is dependent upon the final position of the matching band in the hit parade.  Points earned range from a high of five for the band at the top of the chart, to a low of 1 point for the band in the fifth position.  Bands in the sixth and seventh positions yield zero points.  The player with the most points rises to the position of producer and wins the game.  

As mentioned, the game seems to borrow the theme and mechanisms of Schrille Stille.  Bands climb and fall on the chart based on the number of votes they receive.  The objective and end-game scoring, however, is also lifted from another game – Reiner Knizia’s Honey Bears.  Players must play certain cards to move bands up the chart, but score points based on conserving those same cards.  So, there is a balancing act that must be performed, playing some of the cards to increase the positioning of preferred bands, but also conserving some of those cards for end-game points.  

Sadly, the borrowed mechanisms seem to work much better in their parent games.  Here, they seem lost in a game that offers very little control.  So much is ultimately determined by the final two countdowns, that everything preceding it seems almost pointless.  The strategy is obvious:  collect cards from a few bands, and try to manipulate those to the top of the chart.  There does not appear to be any other options.  That one strategy, however, is largely beyond one’s control. 

Each turn is virtually the same as the last.  A player’s turn takes only a few seconds, and begins to feel extremely repetitive.  Each game I have played I felt I was performing the tasks in a robotic fashion, without much thought or care.  Interestingly, I finished either first or second in all of those games, and did not feel I did anything special to deserve those lofty positions.  

Megastar may fit just fine within a group that enjoys playing games such as Phase 10 or UNO.  It is light, quick, and does not require much, if any thought.  For folks looking for games with a little more thought, strategy and control, I would recommend changing the dial.

Advertisements

Responses

  1. Seems like you have a little control. That’s the problem. It only seems that way, you really have no control at all. OK, maybe you can have a little. 5/10


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: