WBG Score: 7.5
Player Count: 2-5
Published by: The Op
VERY MINOR SPOILERS LATER. You will be warned at the right time and can skip on if needed.
If you are looking for a family-friendly cooperative game to play with your young children, that is themed to your kids taste, then you are going to struggle to find something that fits the bill more than this! Toy Story: Obstacles & Adventures could well be the gateway game you have been searching for.
How To Play
The premise of this game, is very simple. You and your family/friends need to battle your way through the main story lines from the Toy Story movies, and save the toys! Build your deck to enhance your powers and save the day before it is too late.
Each player will choose from one of four different characters to play as, or from five when you get to story two. This is explained on page one of the rules, so I would say is not really a spoiler! But Jessie's board, the fifth character not available in game one, will be very much viable when you open the box. If you have a young daughter desperate to play as Jessie from game one, you may need to open the box and hide this away before you sit down and play with her!!! Just as an example. Nothing specific...
Each character has a starting deck of ten cards. On your turn, you will turn over the top danger card and resolve its effect. This usually forces you loose some health or moves the marker on the adventure track a space or two. The marker represents the toys journey through one of the major story lines in the franchise. If the marker reaches the end of the track before you complete the game, you will loose and will need to try again. Although this is very much avoidable and rarely happens. If you loose all your health, you will loose half your cards and any objects you have, move the tracker forward one space, but then get all your health back at the end of your turn. So, this is not too bad either, and also highly avoidable.
Once the danger card is resolved, you will then check the current affects on any face up hazard card. Again, this will mainly affect your health, but can also change your hand size, or other minor inconveniences. You can then play your hand of cards, which will usually be five. Cards mainly allow you to either get imagination pieces which allow you to buy new cards from the face up draw pile to add to your discard pile to be used later, or insight pieces to help you defeat the current face up adventure card.
Each adventure card has a required amount of insight pieces needed to defeat it. When this is done, all players will receive a benefit, such as health or imagination pieces, and a new adventure card will be drawn. When you defeat the final adventure card in the deck, you will win that mission. There are a number of missions in the game, and they get progressively more difficult. The final two will require some understanding of the game in order to win, but the rest are very simple and most families will fly through them.
Your deck building skills will be crucial to your success. Buying the right cards, getting rid of the weaker ones, and most importantly, not being tempted to buy bad cards when that is all you can afford, will be key as you work your way through the different missions.
There are six boxes in the game that you can open as you work your way through each victory. Children will find opening these, and discovering the secrets within to be incredibly exciting! There is something magical about holding back components like this. It makes the moment when you do get them that much more sweet. My family were clamouring to get this game to the table "one more time," not just so they could play, but also so they could see what was inside the next box.
This method of introducing new rules, cards, and other surprises as you move through a campaign like this, is a clever way to make the game develop in complexity over time, allowing younger players to become familiar with the core rules, before new elements are introduced. It also keeps the game fresh over multiple plays. And makes people want to come back for more to discover the treats inside!
To Infinity. And Beyond!
My family loved the familiarity this game brought. The films are such a huge part of many of our lives, and the characters are instantly recognisable. At every turn there is something for fans of the films to spot. Being reminded of various scenes and funny lines is a great part of this, and I would encourage others who enjoy the movies to take their time with these games. Enjoy the art. Discuss what is happening on the scenes depicted within the cards. This brings out the theme in a deeper way, makes the game feel like more of a story, and certainly made our family enjoy the process even more.
At the end of each game, the cards you have bought and added to your hand are shuffled back into the main deck, and you start the next game with your starting hand again. This was a frustration for my children as they did not enjoy going back to the start each time and loosing the new cards they had acquired. This is the same in the Harry Potter version of this game, which is in all but theme, identical to this game. It's a shame players cannot keep at least one card game-to-game. I don't really understand why this is the case, as it is a little frustrating to go back to the beginning each time. Some cards you buy at the later stages of game, you won't even get to use. For a family game, that is about fun, you think they would include this, and maybe have the reset rule as a advanced variant.
But with that said, each time you start again, you will quickly get into the new game, and the mission in front of you. And your hand will build back up in number and power in now time. Each turn you will usually buy at least one card, and turns happen very quickly.
The cooperative nature of this game allows for adults to help younger children with the more tricky rules and strategy. However, I found with my six and nine year old, I could leave them to make their own decisions during most games. The final two as I say are a little more complex, and offer more of a challenge. But when they are all completed, it is nice to have a range of game to then try again, deepening on how hard you want to make the game. You can also easily adjust the starting position of the tracker on the adventure track to adjust the difficulty. And we even house ruled a deck building element to the start up, where everyone could take five cards from the main deck to form their starting personal deck, instead of the basic ten you usually get.
In the next picture there will be a very minor spoiler. This will be explained in the following paragraph. If you want to avoid any spoilers then skip on past the next picture and the next few lines.
Time To Play
The new elements that are brought into the rules, game by game, are all simple enough to be introduced with only a minute or two of explanation each time. But change the game in ways that keep everything fresh and exciting. I don't want to ruin them here, but above is a very minor spoiler that shows how small asymmetric player powers are introduced in one of the later rounds. It's a nice addition to the game that makes the choice of each character at the start of the game become a little bit more than just about which pictures your kids like. But in truth, it does remain mainly as this! Which is fine, as I love Rex. I don't really want to be Woody. Its fine. No really, it is!
The following boxes I will leave for you to find out about on your own. All I will say is that after the final box, you may feel the game is done. And it will be left on the shelf for a while. But that will still have brought you at least six games, if you won each one first time. But probably more like eight to ten games. And I would wager, if you have got through all six boxes, it was because you enjoyed the experience. And so playing them again will be something you will want to do. I don't think there is a replayability issue here, other than the complexity. As your children grow up, it may become too simple for them. But this could just be the beginning of your families adventures together.