The Wizard of Oz is a beloved classic whose story has been adapted into nearly every medium, but its latest iteration comes in a unique adventure book format from Ravensburger and makes for a great night of gaming, even if there’s little replay value.
For those unfamiliar with Ravensburger’s adventure book format, essentially the game is broken down into six unique chapters, each with their own set of challenges to complete, obstacles to overcome, chapter cards, tokens, and characters to play as. Completing a chapter takes roughly 15 to 20 minutes, after which you will flip the page and begin the next chapter. Despite the constant changes between chapters the game manages to flow well, with most players able to catch on to the new chapter’s goals within minutes and setup taking only a minute or so.
The adventure book structure makes it as easy for solo play as it is for co-op with up to four players. Despite the number of players, the goal remains the same for each chapter. The number of players changes little aside from having more cards to work with to complete challenges and reach the end goal. In the game box there are 6 small but relatively well detailed figures for Dorothy, Glinda the Good Witch, the Wicked Witch of the West, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, and the Scarecrow. There are 40 story cards, 20 special cards, 51 plot cards, 4 reference cards, and 40 tokens. While this sounds like a lot, not all items are used in each chapter, but since each chapter has specific story points and goals, they all have unique tokens and cards as well.
The chapters span the entire story of The Wizard of Oz, from Dorothy’s encounter with the twister, to her returning home. While I don’t want to spoil the goals and challenges present in each chapter, I will break down the first chapter to help explain the structure of the game and what players can expect.
The first chapter has players attempting to help Dorothy escape the twister, visit Professor Marvel, sing her iconic song “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, fix the wagon, and keep all the farm animals happy by frantically moving the farm hands around. There are four animals, two of which begin the chapter angry, a farm hand token which begins in the haystacks in the middle of the board, a wagon token which begins broken, a twister token which begins on the left-hand side of the board and makes its way toward Dorothy’s house, and Dorothy, who must land on specific areas of the board to accomplish challenges before heading home before the Twister hits.
With the board set up, play begins. Each chapter has its own deck of plot cards, so you would take out the Chapter 1 cards and hand four to each player. On each turn players will move, complete a story action, draw, complete a plot action, and discard. Per turn, one character can be moved up to 2 spaces, or two characters can be moved 1 space each. Characters in the first chapter consist of Dorothy and a farm hand token. The farm hand must move next to each animal to make them happy or the wagon to fix it, while Dorothy must land on specific spots to complete challenges. To complete a story action there are multiple steps you can take, although you can complete as many or as few as you’d like. First you can trade 1 card in your hand with 1 card from another player, then you may discard as many cards in your hand as you want. Each card discarded allows you to move any character one space. Now you may complete a challenge if you have accomplished any of the goals listed on the right side of the board.
Next you may play special cards if you have any in your possession. Special cards are gained by completing specific steps of certain challenges and can alter the game, allowing players to skip drawing a plot card or helping in other ways. Now you must draw a plot card, which advances the chapters plot in some form, either moving the twister, directing Dorothy to a specific area, turning animals grumpy, etc. You must complete the actions on the plot card before continuing. Finally, if you have more than 6 story cards in your hand, you must discard the excess cards.
Story cards each have an icon representing either magic, wonder, courage, brains, or heart. These icons are important as certain amounts of each are required to fully complete a challenge. For example, Chapter 1 has a challenge which requires all four animals to be happy and the wagon to be fixed. Once this is accomplished you can consider the challenge complete if you have a brain card, heart card, and courage card to discard. If you meet all these criteria then you can place a challenge complete token on the challenge and accept the challenge’s reward, in this card the chance to draw one card from the special deck.
Each chapter has players completing the same steps per turn, but the challenges vary wildly. For instance, chapter 2 sees Dorothy and Glinda attempting to round up munchkins from random tiles on the board, which are then placed on a grid puzzle and must be maneuvered to land in specific areas while Dorothy is in a specific spot. To complicate matters, plot cards slowly advance a red smoke which will force players to restart the chapter if they aren’t careful.
I had a great time overcoming each obstacle and completing challenges throughout all six chapters and appreciated the ever-changing nature of the game. The entire experience felt unique, and I appreciated the creativity that went into the various challenges and chapter goals. I also found the game board, cards, and figures to be well made and accurately brought The Wizard of Oz experience to life. Being able to play through the chapters with another person added a nice sense of comradery, as we worked together to plan out our movements and obtain the cards needed to complete challenges.
Unfortunately, while fun, I don’t see this game having much replay value. It is a great experience for a couple of hours, but once you’ve completed all the challenges there’s little reason to play through again, as the ultimate goals remain the same. Sure, you may encounter a few new setbacks due to plot cards, but ultimately the game would feel almost identical each playthrough. Think of it like a movie, fun for a few hours, might be worth revisiting from time to time, but not something you’ll play nightly or even weekly. Still, worth the price of admission for a few hours of entertainment.
The Wizard of Oz Adventure Book Game
The Wizard of Oz Adventure Book Game brings to life the iconic film with a great game board, well made components, and a unique and every changing campaign broken into chapters. Unfortunately, once completed the uniqueness wears off and I doubt the game will be replayed often. Still, the experience of completing each chapter for the first time is worth the investment and will undoubtedly bring fans of the film hours of entertainment.
- Unique story book game board
- Well made components
- Great variety of in-game challenges to complete
- Little replay value after completing all six chapters