As a film goer I haven’t felt there have been many games about the genre, only film or TV tie-ins. Showtime, a game about film audiences, was released and I was keen to try it out. Published by Pegasus Spiele, it’s a game for two to four players and is designed by Stefan Kloß and Anna Oppolzer.
The game is set at a cinema. The type of cinema depends on the number of players: An independent for two players (fewer seats), a mid-range small chain (more seats/extra board with three players) and the largest multiplex/premiere which is for four players and has all of the relative board pieces (representing seating blocks) fitted together. The aim is to get the most points by entertaining your audience.
The Big Show
In Showtime you're ushers looking to entertain your guests. We are all going into the same theatre and we all have the same guests represented as cards (we have different colours to distinguish players) and our individual decks of cards are shuffled.
With their shuffled deck, everyone draws a hand of four cards and looks where they could best place their audience, one player at a time. Starting with the player most into films, in turn order; continue clockwise placing a character in the cinema.
The seat you choose will give entertainment/enjoyment. The central seats provide the most enjoyment. With all seats being desired equally by all characters, it comes down to the abilities of the characters, and thus the fun part of the game.
Characters, guests and movie goers that attend come from all walks of life. Some of the characters include:
- Lovebirds - Who gain enjoyment for the players (of the ushers who seated them).
- Tall Guys - Who reduce the enjoyment by two points of the guest behind them.
- A Kicking Girl - Who puts her feet on the chair in front, reducing the guest's enjoyment by three points.
- Old Man - Who can’t see well. He gains extra enjoyment being seated in the front row and loses enjoyment the further back he sits.
- A Large Person - Who reduces enjoyment either side.
- A Noisy Person - Who slurps their soft drink.
- A Hunk - Who gains enjoyment when women are around him.
- An old lady - Who says; "Excuse me" and budges you across one seat.
The gaming mechanic is a unique concept for me. Worthy of innovation of the year. It’s disguised as variable player powers. There are others such as a man who is tall and whoever is directly behind him loses three enjoyment points. A girl who kicks the seat in front causes whoever that is to lose two enjoyment points. I even have promos with a guy with garlic breath who makes everyone move away!
Once everyone has placed all four cards, the cinema is full, and you score your points on the red carpet.
You then clear the cinema and continue two more times starting with the player further back on the red carpet. In addition to the above scoring, there are four genres and at random one is revealed for the first screening. Each character has a preference and can score two points if their film type is shown. As you draw, after you have placed, you can bank up certain cards for future viewings.
There is also a Director’s Cut in Showtime, whereby you each have the same 12 characters (instead of 16).
The box is huge for the contents, aside from that, the deck of cards are of a high standard. The artwork is comical and it's fun seeing the amusing positions the characters have in their seats.
With cinemas being naturally being in dim lighting, the darkness on the board focuses the mind and draws you into the game. The interconnecting boards that represent the cinema are great. Superb innovation reduces the need to have folding or otherwise unnecessary space by adding/removing extra boards/seats dependent on the number of plays. The markers are wooden block tickets, no shapes really, however with players playing different characters a uniform look may have been chosen to compromise
The genre tokens have lovely artwork by Christian Fiore. The genres are Sci-Fi, Action, Comedy and Romance. There is an Easter Egg involving the Sci-Fi token - The artwork is for the board game, Roll for the Galaxy!
Final Thoughts on Showtime
You know you’ve demonstrated a game you’ve played well when players ask: “How much is it?”
Showtime is quite a different game to others I have played (which is saying something). It was the fun take-that element that kept players engaged throughout. There were constant interactions on every turn because of the character powers, sometimes playing a character to counter earlier negative effects. The board is immersive. Having the border of the game representing the edge of the cinema helps keep players interested on the seating. I like the red carpet queuing line as the score track as well.
The fun never wanes as the game stays sharp with a play time of 20-40 minutes. Showtime is a great game. The speed to set-up and teach (and only needing seconds to change the boards for different player counts) is smooth. Everyone has enjoyed playing, watching and finding character abilities hilarious.
As a theme, I and others liked it. Films, like board games throws up opinion and this brings you back for more.
You Might Like
The theme. There aren't many cinema games.
The relatively unique mechanism of playing interactive cards.
The fun nature of play and characters.
You Might Not Like
The lack of components for the size of the box.
The lack of strategy.
Not being certain what you will play until it’s your turn.