Full disclosure: A review copy of Moving Pictures was provided by Button Shy.
More Button Shy titles! I covered ROVE about a month(ish) ago, and they sent me another three in that shipment, so look forward to those coming down the pipe gradually over the next, whenever. I do love reviewing Button Shy games; they work so well with my format. Short games, so little to photograph, simple rules, but a lot to do. So naturally I’m usually down to try them out. Let’s see what’s going on with this one, the recently-released Moving Pictures.
In Moving Pictures, you’re making movies! The thing is, you need to decide what scenes to keep and what to leave on the cutting room floor. You’ve got a partner and the two of you are going to film, edit, and get this movie done! Over three Acts, probably. Just make sure the narrative is cohesive; this isn’t Memento. Will you be able to make your movie dream happen?
Not a ton. Set out the Deleted Scene Cards:
You’ll play the game over three Acts, starting with Act I. To set up an Act, shuffle the Scene Cards:
Depending on the Act, you’ll lay out different numbers of cards:
- Act I: 6 Scene Cards are played face-down; each player gets 3 Scene Cards in their hand.
- Act II: 7 Scene Cards are played face-down; one player gets 4 Scene Cards (and goes first), and the other player gets 3 Scene Cards.
- Act III: 8 Scene Cards are played face-down; each player gets 4 Scene Cards in their hand.
Don’t organize your cards by number! It could give information away. Once you’ve set up, you should be ready to start playing!
Moving Pictures is a game of movie-making! Can you successfully guide a movie through filming and editing? One way to find out!
The game itself is played over three Acts, each divided into two phases. Let’s go through each!
During the Filming Phase, players will put all the cards from their hand on top of the face-down Scene Cards in the hopes of ultimately coming out of the Act with a connected series of increasing numbers. Some cards have “When Played” effects that can mix things up, and, most importantly, players can’t talk about cards in their hands or show cards unless allowed to by a card effect! Note that some cards have a film + scissors symbol; that’s the Editing Phase effect, and those will resolve next phase.
On your turn, place any card from your hand face-up on top of a face-down card. If it has a “When Played” effect, activate it. Once you’ve finished resolving it, the next player takes their turn. After all cards have been played, move on to the Editing Phase.
During the Editing Phase, all cards with an Editing Phase symbol (the film + scissors) activate in numerical order. Even if 8 is to the left of 6, 6 activates first. After those are resolved, the Act ends.
End of Act
At the end of the Act, you have to check if all your cards are now in increasing numerical order. If they’re not, you may use any number of face-up Deleted Scene cards. When using a Deleted Scene, flip it face-down and remove one Scene Card of your choice from the Act, discarding it. If, after using both Deleted Scene cards, the cards are still not in increasing numerical order, you lose. Otherwise, either start a new Act or end the game (if you’ve completed Act III).
End of Game
If you successfully complete the third Act, you win the game!
Player Count Differences
None! Two-player only game.
- Some cards are pretty sure bets; try to play them when you can. Generally, this is just any card that is exactly 1 more or 1 less than a card already on the table. If you can play those, it’s usually a good idea just so that your enterprising partner doesn’t actually shut down your ability to place that card. One exception, though: if your card’s ability is more valuable to be played later, save it!
- Playing 1 or 16 first would be a great idea, wouldn’t it? That’s why you effectively can’t. The 1 must be played immediately to the left of another card (meaning that there must be at least one card played before it can be played. The 16 locks out all When Played abilities, and they’re all useful. You need to be a bit crafty when you’re playing those cards. They’re both excellent cards to reveal using the 5’s ability, if you can. So much useful information!
- I often put the 8 towards one end or the other of the line, since it has to be swapped with a non-adjacent card. It’s useful to do that since it allows the other player to play their highest- or lowest-value card anywhere in the middle of the board. During the Editing Phase, you can swap that card with the 8 and put it where it needs to be, also solving your 8 problem. It’s a handy trick that gives you a bit of runway and flexibility.
- 11 is a great card if you have a swap; you can put it in higher- or lower-value spots, hope that you get the right card on a lucky flip, and swap it back if you don’t. I haven’t seen this strategy work yet, but I’m confident it will eventually probably pan out the way that I want it to. And that optimism? It’s worth its weight in gold.
- Be careful with the Editing Abilities; if you get messed up there, you can very easily lose the game. Having to move a card you didn’t want to move can jumble your entire play area, and you only get a couple Deleted Scenes. If you need more than two, you’re junked. Keep an eye on which Editing Abilities are “may” and which are “must“. The latter is worth double-checking.
- With a 5, think about what the information you’re revealing suggests beyond just the card’s number. There are cards that are very good to reveal, but watch out for accidental metagaming! Don’t try anything clever like “oh, I only ever reveal the highest-value card in my hand”, because that’s just some Hanabi noise. Different cards have different situational values to being revealed, and being mindful of that can be critical. Certain cards let your opponent know that they can take certain actions, which means that they might change their intended play based on what you’re dropping. And that can be huge!
- If you’re using both Deleted Scene Cards in Act I, respectfully, you’ve probably already lost. You only get two for the entire game, so if you’re burning them both early, you may be having trouble communicating your intentions to your co-player. If that’s happening at that scale, you might want to reset and try again. It’s not impossible to win without Deleted Scene Cards, but it can be challenging if you’ve already burnt them all early in the game.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- Movie-themed games are fun! It’s just a fun theme, I think given how pervasive movies and other filmed media are in society. I grew up watching a ton of movies and TV, so the art and craft of making them is very interesting to me, even in board game form.
- The “players aren’t allowed to arrange cards in their hands numerically” rule gets me every time, but it is a good thing to require. I frequently forget this, but it makes sense; you don’t want players trying to intuit that since a player played a card on the right side of their hand, the other cards in their hand must be less than that number. Even if players do organize their hand by number, having this rule in place makes it so that that information is now unreliable, which is smart.
- I really like the art style for this game, as well. It’s a fun drafting look for the game, so everything looks like it’s in progress and being gradually set up. I like it! I think it looks great. The brightness of the game (since everything’s mostly on white) is also a nice contrast color against my darker tables, which isn’t really helpful for y’all but it’s nice for me.
- Portability is a big chunk of Button Shy’s ethos, so this succeeds pretty well. I just love wallet games. So many of them, so easy to take places. It’s really the dream. Being able to have a bunch of them in a small space really is just good for me.
- The cards’ abilities are interesting, and a lot of fun. There’s a lot of different options for how cards get played and they interact with each other. Given that at any time you’re using a maximum of 50% of them, you’ll see a bunch of different interactions between various pairs of cards. As you get familiar with the cards themselves, certain synergies will emerge, but it’s fun to discover them from game to game.
- I think this game captures a lot of what I liked about The Mind, but gives the experience more theme and structure, which I thought The Mind was lacking. I think where The Mind fell short for me was around structure. It’s perfectly fun for a lot of folks, but I wanted it to be something it just wasn’t. Moving Pictures is more structured, for me. Less real-time. This is interesting, to me, since I love real-time games, but something about the way The Mind shook out just didn’t engage me in the way that I wanted. That’s fine! I like that Moving Pictures has the same core of “place cards in numerical order”, but a bit more deduction structure really works here.
- I had kind of hoped the narrative across cards would be more cohesive if they were in order, but that seems like a lot to ask from a 16-card game. I mean, I can’t expect too much, I don’t think, since it’s unlikely we’re going to get a perfectly-modular story set across 16 cards. It comes out as something that approximates an almost-episodic series, but there’s no real narrative closure to the arc. Not sure what I thought the game was going to have, but this is fine. I think it’s more about the effect than anything else.
- The “make the game harder by just using the bonus cards less” strategy of increasing difficulty doesn’t really appeal to me in a major way. It’s just kind of there. I like well-stratified difficulty levels, and I guess this technically counts, but I’d love challenges or achievements or alternate cards or some play changes that aren’t just “do better”, since the only way to currently increase difficulty is just to use fewer Deleted Scenes. Mildly disappointing, but not too bad.
Overall: 8.25 / 10
Overall, I think Moving Pictures is pretty great! I think it’s a great game for two that you can play while you’re sitting and waiting in a café (or on an airplane, if you’re confident enough), and I was looking for something like that in my collection. It’s not quite as space-intensive as some of Button Shy’s other cooperative games (given that its puzzle element is numerical, not spatial), so as long as you can make a line of cards you’re in pretty good shape. I appreciate games with a variety of themes, and movie-making games, even ones with a lighter theme like this one, are always a welcome addition to the collection. The art style helps bring that “movie in draft” idea together, and I really like the way that it turned out. The big thing, for me, is that there’s an element of structure to this game that I’m missing from other “play cards in a certain order without talking” games, and I really like that structure. Having abilities on the cards produces good synergies between them, and the challenge of figuring out which cards you should play when depends so much on what’s in play, so each experience can be wildly different if even the 2 or the 5 is missing. That’s solid design, and it keeps me engaged from game to game. I’ll probably slide this one in my backpack for future travel, but if you’re looking for a solid two-player cooperative game, you enjoy a good puzzle, or you want more movie-themed games, I’d recommend checking Moving Pictures out!
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!