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After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Thursday 6 July 2017

Thoughts from The Yellow Meeple:- HUNGER: The Show

GameHUNGER: The Show

Publisher: Phalanx Games

DesignerPim Thunborg

HUNGER: The Show bills itself as the first ever reality show in board gaming. I'm pretty sure there's been plenty of TV reality show spin-offs eg. Big Brother - The Board Game, but I suppose HUNGER: The Show may be the first that isn't a spin off. The publisher, Phalanx, definitely wanted to make a big deal of the theme when they released this game at the UK Games Expo, hosting a game show style competition with a very big booth presence. So how do you encapsulate the theme of the TV series Castaway or Shipwrecked into a board game?

HUNGER: The Show is a filler length game for 2-6 players, taking just 15-20 minutes. It's a bluffing and deduction style game, making use of simultaneous action selection to give you the opportunity to out-think your opponents. You are each a character on a desert island, trying to win the TV show prize money by either being the last contestant to survive or by reaching the end of the game and then using the lat of your energy to build the best raft compared to all other contestants. The competition for food and boat parts is fierce, and some contestants will turn to thieving to survive, whilst others might remain more loyal, guarding the supplies of other players.

Your hand of cards consists of actions (gathering fruit, gathering chickens, gathering boat parts, guarding or stealing) and locations (one card for each location in play, but the number of locations scales with the number of players). Each turn all players simultaneously play a 2-card combination of location and action. Players then reveal and resolve - if there are no conflicts everyone can gather as they wish, thieves steal either from their location or the campsite unless a guard stops them. At the end of each turn you must eat 4 food and then a random action happens on the island eg. some chickens are wiped out etc.

One player's hand of cards.
Play continues, with players who run out of food being eliminated, something that we always find problematic in games, especially with higher player counts where games last longer and more players are bored. If there are any players remaining when the last round card is drawn then the person who can build the most complete rafts is the winner. Unfortunately some players may get unlucky and just have a pile of role at the end of the game and no logs, simply down to luck of the draw, but we have never seen the game end this way yet, we've always starved before it ends!

HUNGER: The Show definitely captures the theme, it really does seem like a struggle to survive and I like the thematic touches, for example when two players try to gather fruit at the same location, they gather less or when two people are trying to steal, they spend more time fighting each other off so fail to steal from other contestants. The rulebook also does a good job of trying to bring out some of this theme with little interjections too remind you that you're part of a game show. 

The game has a nice production, with good quality tokens, cool cartoon-style artwork and an easy to understand symbology. However, for me, the board in the box lid doesn't work and the game would've been much better with a standard board. The edge of the box obscures view for some players and makes it difficult to pick up some of the small tokens. But is it a good game?

The game box/board. I'm not sure it's the right thing to do for this game!
Unfortunately for me, this style of simultaneous action selection and social deduction just isn't my thing. You pretend like you're trying to predict other players, for example because they're low on food they must be going for food, but really I think you'd play just a successfully if you just played cards at random. My opinion of the game was definitely tainted by our early two-player experiences - this game should never have had a two on the box! Yes the size of the board scales, but it's just too predictable with two and the thief and the guard just don't come into play enough. With more players, there is a bit more going on and I can see people enjoying this game and getting into the theme and backstabbing, but personally I will avoid playing HUNGER: The Show again and stick to games where there is some actual deduction rather than a huge heap of luck. For the Yellow Meeple, HUNGER: The Show gets a 4.5/10.

HUNGER: The Show was a review copy provided by Phalanx Games.

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