#793 – Super Mega Lucky Box

Base price: $16.
1 – 6 players. (More if you buy additional boxes.)
Play time: ~20 minutes.
BGG | Board Game Atlas
Buy on Amazon (via What’s Eric Playing?)
Logged plays: 2 

Full disclosure: A review copy of Super Mega Lucky Box was provided by Gamewright.

Had a big game weekend, so I’m trying to get through a few of the reviews I haven’t cleared out of my brain before I forget how I felt about those games. The one hazard of playing too many games as a reviewer is that you kind of lose the thread of certain titles as new ones come in and dominate your thoughts (been thinking a lot about Merv, for instance, and there’s a lot of game there so it’s taking up some space). On the plus side for y’all, that means there’s a lot more reviews to come. This one’s a new one from Gamewright, so let’s dive in and see how Super Mega Lucky Box plays!

In Super Mega Lucky Box, it’s all about points. Flip numbers, score points, get combos, etc. That’s your entire dream, and Super Mega Lucky Box is here to accommodate that dream. The other players? Don’t worry about them. Mostly. If you see one of them going after moons, it might be time to do SOME worrying, but again, not much. Will you be able to fulfill your dream of points, or are you simply checking off boxes?

Contents

Setup

Very little, effectively. Set out the Moon tokens:

Give each player four Lightning tokens:

Shuffle up the Number Cards:

Set a set of nine Number Cards aside. Shuffle the Lucky Box cards and deal each player five:

Each player should choose three to keep and two to discard, face-up. Give each player a marker and a score card:

You should be all ready to start!

Gameplay

A game of Super Mega Lucky Box takes place over four rounds, each divided into 9 turns. All players take their turn at the same time, so let’s walk through one.

Draw Number Card

This one’s simple. Reveal a number card off the top of the stack.

Cross Off One Square

Next, players choose one matching number in any of their Lucky Boxes and cross it off, if they haven’t already. It must be in the 3×3 grid, not one of the Bonuses.

If a player doesn’t have any matching numbers, they can instead spend Lightning Tokens to increase or decrease the drawn number by 1 for each Lightning Token spent. If they run out of tokens or choose not to spend tokens and the number still doesn’t match, they simply do not check off any box, this turn.

Check for Bonuses

Should a player complete a row or a column, they typically get a bonus. This bonus may be a number (which allows them to check off another matching number, immediately), a ? (which allows them to check off any number, immediately), one or more Lightning Bolts (which lets them take the matching number of Lightning Tokens), a moon (which lets them take a Moon token), or a star (which lets them circle the leftmost star for this round).

If you unlock multiple bonuses in a turn, you may take them in any order.

End of Round

Once the nine numbers are drawn, the round ends. Players first score any completed Lucky Boxes, earning 15 / 12 / 10 / 8 points per box if the boxes were completed in the first / second / third / fourth round. Erase any completed boxes and discard them. All players then each draw three new Lucky Box cards, adding one of them to their play area and discarding the others.

If this isn’t the end of the fourth round, reshuffle the number cards, deal a pile of nine, and start a new round! Otherwise, go to the end of the game.

End of Game

Once the game ends, check the moons! The player(s) with the most moons earn 6 points, and the player(s) with the fewest moons lose 6 points. In a two-player game, only the player with more moons earns 6 points; the player with fewer moons doesn’t lose any.

Total your scores from across the 4 rounds (as well as the Stars and other bonuses), and the player with the most points wins!

Player Count Differences

There’s only one player count difference, and it concerns the moons. With more than two players, having the fewest moons will lose you 6 points. At two, having fewer moons than your opponent doesn’t mean anything. No matter what the player count otherwise, having the most moons will net you 6 bonus points. I wouldn’t say there are many other player count differences, otherwise. Players largely don’t interact, since there aren’t any bonuses that would cause that. People stick to their own boards and maybe keep an eye on how many moons the other players are getting. I would probably just leave it at two players, though; big penalties aren’t really my scene, so I’d just as soon not take the negative 6 points for having the fewest moons, if I can avoid it. Otherwise, yeah, no preference on player counts; it’s a low-interaction game, so I wouldn’t notice three players from ten. Just keep in mind that the game can support 7 – 12 players if you have two copies and combine them.

Strategy

  • Try to always have good number coverage. Two sets of each of (1, 2, 3), (4, 5, 6), and (7, 8, 9) on your cards is a good idea. If you goof yourself on this one, you’re going to end up stuck; there’s a random mix of numbers coming off of those cards, and your odds of getting a perfect 1 – 9 split or something aren’t great. You’ll want a few of each number available, and you’ll want to check your bonuses on your cards. Don’t take a bunch of cards that give you 1 – 3 as bonuses if you don’t have 1 – 3 on the cards to compensate. Those bonuses gotta go somewhere, otherwise you’re just wasting them.
  • Don’t run out of lightning bolts. If you do run out of lightning bolts, you’re essentially just playing bingo. Being able to manipulate the numbers, even a little bit, is a key chunk of this game. Keep an eye on your bonuses and make sure you’ve got a good influx of bolts, every now and then.
  • Keep an eye on which players are grabbing moons. You don’t necessarily need to care too much about getting moons, but getting enough that you’re not in last place (or maybe enough that you’re comfortably in the lead?) may be worth looking into. Not here to say that one strategy is particularly better or worse than another, but losing 6 points is a lot, in this game, so I’d recommend at least avoiding that.
  • That said, if you’re irrevocably behind on moons, focus on getting points another way. There’s something to the sunk cost fallacy, here. It’s not worth throwing good bonuses after bad ones; if you’re behind on moons by at least three, it might be worth focusing on getting bonuses that can help you clear more cards, rather than trying to stave off a loss in points that you’re already almost certain to take.
  • Stars are great, provided you can get three to activate in the same round. Don’t bother with stars if you’re only activating one in a round; it’s only a bonus point. Instead, try to set yourself up to activate multiple in a round. If you can get three, then you get 9 bonus points for that round, which is awesome and super worth it. Otherwise, your mileage may vary.
  • Try to avoid wasting numbers, if you can help it. I get that this is relatively straightforward advice, but it’s worth making it explicit and putting it into practice. Wasting numbers is terrible. You only get 27 per game, and a skilled player can really turn those into something useful, cards permitting. If you end up losing more than one or two numbers, it’s likely that you’re not using your lightning bolts well or that you took cards that were nonoptimal. Try to make sure that you’re taking cards and bonuses to give yourself that broad coverage so that you don’t have to just do nothing on a turn. Otherwise, it’s usually worth spending a lightning bolt or two to change a number into a usable one. Remember that numbers wrap around, so a 9 can become a 1 with only one lightning bolt!
  • It’s worth spending some tokens to try and get one card completed in the first round. It’s worth so many more points to complete a card in Round 1, even though it’s very difficult. Plus, if you complete a card, that’s usually four to six bonuses you’ve gotten, which might be enough to give you an edge on moons or other cards or just some bonus lightning bolts. Those are all good things.
  • To start the game, taking cards that will produce additional numbers as bonuses can be a pretty good idea. This will let you power through your original cards pretty quickly, which should hopefully allow you to further chain bonuses down the line.

Pros, Mehs, and Cons

Pros

  • I really like the lightning and moon tokens. They’re nice! Decent size, nice color. They’re a little plastic-y, but, that’s okay. Thematically, they don’t really make sense beyond “these are tokens for things that we’re doing”, but ludonarrative consistency isn’t always critical, for me.
  • This seems like the right kind of game to introduce to someone who’s got Yahtzee down but is finding Ganz Schon Clever to be too complex. It’s a good stepping stone. The combo potential isn’t as intense as Ganz, but it still has a bit of that strategy available to be unlocked. I think Super Mega Lucky Box is definitely on the lighter side, but it’ll be a nice game to play with folks that aren’t as invested in picking something up with complex rules and combos. Ganz, in my opinion, isn’t particularly complex, but I’ve had some stumbling blocks emerge when I’ve first showed this to folks fairly new to gaming. I don’t think I’ll have that problem here.
  • The included markers are pretty nice. They’re a bit more fine-point than some other markers I’ve seen. Somewhere between Railroad Ink and Silver & Gold? I think Silver & Gold remains the gold standard (yes) for markers included in a game, but I quite like these, as well.
  • A big cascade of bonuses can be super nice. As with any game where you have combo potential, getting those combos to all fire properly can really light up all the “combo good” zones of your brain. Pretty sure they’re called that. Typically, this only works if you’re chaining lots of numbers together, so if that’s your goal, eschewing moons and stars and lightning might be a way to do it.
  • It seems relatively possible to make variations of this that potentially have more interactive bonuses or other types of effects, if this is going to be Some Kind of Franchise Game. I’d be interested to see how the formula can be played with. Moons and stars seem relatively inessential in the grand scheme of things, in that they’re fairly atomic operations that don’t have much of an impact on comboing, so it would stand to reason that one could sub them out for other effects if other versions of this were going to be made. There’s some balancing that would have to be done, but it would be interesting to see.
  • It’s also relatively low-complexity in terms of setup. Shuffle some cards, no big deal. I just finished a weekend playing Merv and Imperium, so I kind of appreciate a quick “shuffle this and you’re basically ready” game.
  • I do appreciate that the game can be combined with another to support more players, though good luck separating all of those Lucky Box cards. The cards have small numbers in the corner to allow for them to be separated, but that seems like a nightmare to do since there are at least 60 of them and the font isn’t that big. The fact that you can scale this upwards is nice, though I don’t think I would anytime soon. I still haven’t managed to have more than four people playing a board game (as of writing) in like, a year and a half.

Mehs

  • If you do too well and get down to one remaining card, the game can get a little boring since you don’t have a ton of additional options. I kind of wish there were a way to prevent players getting down to one card remaining, at any point, but there’s not really. It just means that they’re largely constrained (and they typically can’t use three numbers, given the layout of the cards), and that can be a little un-fun.
  • The moons and stars feel superfluous, in the sense that they could be substituted for another scoring aspect pretty easily. It feels like they’re not critical-path. And that’s fine and all, it just ends up messing with my engagement level during the game since I now need to keep track of two additional things that don’t really connect back to the game itself. A lot of games have these, and that’s fine; I just kind of wish they were spendable or that I could fold them back into the game in some way beyond “points is points”.
  • The lack of player interaction doesn’t do it for me, here. I’m not sure what I’d like, but I think at least something that isn’t a “player who got the most X gets points and player who got the fewest X loses points” would be an improvement. I don’t see any reason why more than 12 people could play this game with no problems, beyond card constraints and the moons getting weird.

Cons

  • There are a lot of different ways that luck might not go your way, here. This is kind of the big problem. You’re constrained to the various Lucky Boxes you get and the numbers you reveal, but those may not line up in a way that’s useful for you. You can do your best to achieve good coverage, but you’ll more-than-likely have some gaps (like only having three of {4, 5, 6} between your cards or something) that can cause you to get messed up. You may also see things like a player getting ahead of you on moons, but you never draw another Lucky Box with moon bonuses again, so there’s nothing you can do about it. There’s usually some level of trade-off, like you getting additional stars or lightning bolts or numbers to compensate, but it’s possible for the disparate strategies to not synergize well because of bad card-drawing luck, as a result. You can avert it by trying to make the best card choices you can between rounds, but that will always be an issue.

Overall: 7 / 10

Overall, I think Super Mega Lucky Box is pretty fun. Nothing particularly flashy or special, just a quick-and-simple flip-and-write for folks that are looking for something that’s light and easy to learn. Makes sense for Gamewright, as well; fits in with the other games they produce that are about this size and weight. I think it could probably streamline, a bit, and still be interesting; I like Qwingo a bit better, for instance, and that’s just “yell a number and roll a die”. I think the simple player interaction in that one elevates it, whereas the lack of player interaction in Super Mega Lucky Box is noticeable. Usually, flip-and-write games will have some sort of racing element to them to incentivize players to move against other players (Welcome To, for example), but this really just leans into the “collect moons or else” ethos, which is fine. I think I generally find that particular strategy uninteresting, just because it incentivizes me to do something that I otherwise wouldn’t care about. It’s not that collecting moons is challenging or interesting; it’s that I get punished if I don’t, and that isn’t always the best incentive as a player. Beyond that, though, this is a solid enough little game that’s a good way to introduce flip-and-write games as a genre. I could see myself playing this with my Dad; he was a bit confused by Ganz and I think the lowered complexity would really benefit us playing a few rounds. I’m usually not opposed to a few rounds, anyways; the game moves quickly and I keep trying to get a card cleared in the first round. I’m close, and I’ll get it some day. If you’re a fan of the flip-and-write genre, this may be a bit more basic than the games you’re used to, but if you’re looking to introduce someone else to this pool of games, I think Super Mega Lucky Box is a nice, gentle on-ramp. I had fun trying it.


If you enjoyed this review and would like to support What’s Eric Playing? in the future, please check out my Patreon. Thanks for reading!

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 )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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 )

Connecting to %s