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[Review] Wildside!

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tomvasel
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Joined: 03/23/2011

Let me start off by saying that I don't think I'm the target audience for Wild Side (Out of the Box Publishing, 2004 - Brian S. Spence, Garrett J. Donner, and Michael S. Steer). I can't find anything really wrong with it; it seems to work well, and with the right group, everyone has a lot of fun. But for me personally it was a flop, something I just don't care if I ever play again. Maybe the game felt a bit contrived; I felt as if I was simply looking at the table as fast as I could and slapping the table if I felt like it. Then again, maybe it was because I wasn't fast enough.

The person with the best hand-eye coordination will most likely win games, and it's rather easy to make a mistake that will cost you. I found the experience frustrating and annoying, rather than fun; and why would I play a game like that? That being said, I did see some kids and a few adults who did enjoy the game, so it's not a total waste of time. Just for me.

To play the game, a "Slam Pad" is placed in the middle of the table, with each player given a "Dice Pad" in front of them, and taking three six-sided dice (showing a star, moon, raindrop, lightning bolt, and two "wild" sides). The first round is ready to go!

Each round, players roll their dice onto their dice pads. If a player's dice roll off of their pad, then they are out for that round, although other players can match their dice. The same thing happens to a player whose dice stack or fall off the table, except other players cannot use their dice either.

After rolling the dice, all the players look at their dice to see if they match the dice of another player. First, both players must have rolled at least one wild symbol. Also, they must have matched at least one other non-wild symbol. If this occurs, the first player to hit the slam pad (with the same hand they rolled the dice with) steals one die from the other player. If there is more than one match of non-wild symbols, the slamming player may steal more than one die! When a player is down to their last die, then anyone can match that player, as long as the player with more dice has rolled one wild and a symbol to match the single die player.

If a player rolls all wilds (and they have more than one die), then they match all other players, and all other players match them. A player who does this and hits the pad steals one die from the player of their choice. Only one player can slam the pad a round; the first player to do so correctly gets their die(ce), and the round ends. If the player is incorrect about their match, then they lose one die that is placed next to the slam pad, to be won by another player in a future round.

The game continues until one player runs out of dice, at which point the player with the most dice remaining wins! Ties are broken by a "roll-off".

Some quick comments on the gameā€¦

1.) Components: The game itself is of high quality; although to play it I wouldn't mind using dice cups from another game, such as Liar's Dice. The players' dice pads are large square felt pieces, with a side length of 24 cm. While that may seem big, you wouldn't believe how many times the dice rolled off of these pads (annoying for me, since it caused a player to barely roll their dice.) The Slam Pad is a large laminated cardboard token which has stood up fairly well under repeated slapping. The dice are of good quality, with nice, bright symbols printed on each side. Each symbol is a different color and shape, making them easy to differentiate. Everything fits well in a small, sturdy box with a plastic insert to hold the dice.

2.) Rules: As with all OOTB games, the rules are short and easy to teach, taking up only six pages in the sturdy foldout. It is a bit confusing for a brief moment when talking about wilds and their impact on the game, but most people settle in quite well. Games can be up and running in a minute or so.

3.) Slapping: As with all games of this type, players can and will often hit each other as they quickly slap the middle of the table. And hitting the table repeatedly hurts after a while. Regardless, the penalty for slapping the table is small, and it's uncommon NOT to have a match with someone else in a four player game, so why not just hit it and hope you have a match? That's what I figured out quickly, and therefore my winning the game often depended on sheer luck. Speed is more important than anything else in this game, and games end quickly enough - so why not just hit the pad? I don't like the fact that this is available in the game, because it lessens whatever skills were available in the game in the first place.

4.) Speed: A good note about the game - it's fast. Whether you like the game or not, there's no denying that a game of Wild Side can easily take only five minutes. So there's really not a lot of time lost in the game. For me, some games are over before I even begin to slowly move my hand towards the table. People simply just slap it and take my dice; and I look around, a bit bewildered. Now, that's really not the case for me - I hope that I'm a bit faster than that. But there will be a lot of deliberate people who will just loathe this game. If speed ain't for you, then neither is Wild Side.

5.) Fun Factor: If you like speed, then you'll enjoy the game. Otherwise, you won't.

My last statement sums it up. I don't mind fast games, games that encourage players to move quickly. But the difference between a fast person and a slow one seems astronomical to me in Wild Side, enough so that I really don't have any desire to play it again. For people who enjoy quick, speedy little games, however - this may be one for you. If you get a chance to demo it (which won't take long), you'll quickly determine your affinity for the game.

Tom Vasel
"Real men play board games"
www.tomvasel.com

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