Simpsons Board Game

This year we seen a huge jump in family games related to the Simpsons.  First there was Clue, then the Simpsons Trivia 1 and 2, and then the terrific Simpsons Monopoly.  But here in the states, we didn't get to see this game at our local retailers - the Simpsons Board Game.

From a U.K. company called Winning Moves, this game was available there, but not here, at least as far as I've been able to determine.  Billed as seven different games going on simultaneously, I was interested to see just how interesting and how much play value it had.

The age recommendation on the game is 8 and older, although some of the trivia questions included will be tough for that young of a crowd.  It is fairly well designed though for the whole family.

The game comes with the playing board, sets of cardboard tokens, cardboard playing pieces to move around the board, a spinner, one die, trivia cards, and action cards.  Since the game is designed for up to six players, and there are only five core family members, someone gets to be Grampa.

If you're lucky, you'll end up getting sent on the Springfield Elementary Field Trip.  This section has a brightly colored picture of the bus and Otto, with 8 of the school kids, none of them members of the Simpsons family, riding skate boards.  Each kid has a number 1 through 8 by his name, and the corresponding odds of 1-1 through 8-1.  Odds of what?  Why, spinning that number on the included spinner, that's what.  You select one of the kids to place your token, and then spin the spinner.  If his or her number comes up, you get to place that many tokens on the carpet.  The spinner is designed so you have a 1 in 1 chance of hitting the '1', getting progressively worse until you only have a one in 8 chance of hitting the '8'.  If you don't hit that number, there isn't a downside - you simply go back to the main game on your next turn.

Here's the general idea behind the game - in the center of the board is pictured a couch and tv, with the carpet in between.  The carpet is sectioned into 36 squares.  As you perform various tasks in the various areas of the board, you will either add or remove your tokens from the squares of the carpet.  Once the carpet is full, the game is over, and the player wit the most of his own tokens on the carpet wins.  Sound simple?

You move by using the age old method of rolling the die.  Around the center is a group of squares which make up the basic game, and within these squares you can do something simple like get to add one of your tokens to the carpet, or end up being sent to one of the other six 'games', which are really just separate sections of the board with slightly different purposes.

On the opposite end of the spectrum of fortune is the Kwik-E-Mart.  Get sent here, and you'll have to roll your way through a series of only 9 squares, but all these squares are negative.  You lose turns, get sent back squares, and have to remove tokens from the carpet.

The other four games have up and downsides.  If you get sent to the Springfield Power Plant, you simply have to roll your way through 32 squares.  But similar to the old Chutes and Ladders game, you can skip forward or be forced back quite a few squares in a single move.  While there is no lose of tokens here, and there are a couple squares that will allow you to add tokens, getting out of the Power Plant is likely to suck up some of your time.

If you get Elected Mayor, you get to enter a section of the board that acts like the more underhanded cards in a game of Uno.  Here you can move other players around, send them to other games, and remove other players tokens from the carpet.  Of course you can also use this power for good, saving players from the Kwik-E-Mart hell for example.

The last two areas also make use of cards that are included.  If you are sent to Springfield Elementary, you have to traverse a series of squares, many of which will ask you to answer trivia questions.  These trivia questions can be easy to difficult, but are all multiple choice.  For example, one card asks: What street is Moe's Tavern on? a) Eucalyptus b) Walnut C) Main or D) Franklin.  Get it right, add a token to the carpet.

The final area is Moe's, and here you have to perform some sort of stunt as indicated on another set of cards.  These can be things like repeating everything the other players say until it's your turn again, or shadow box for thirty seconds and then get knocked down.  Perform them to the groups satisfaction, get a token on the carpet.  Don't, or refuse, and you don't get that ever-so-important token.

That's pretty much the game, and while it might sound a little confusing at first, it really is pretty straight forward.  Most kids 8 and over will understand, although those trivia questions are pretty tough.  By the way, Moe's is on Walnut.

Overall - ***
The nicest thing about this board game is the graphics.  From the box art, to the board, the game is covered in bright, energetic, sharp Simpsons graphics.  And the family is non-existent - which makes sense, considering the pieces represent the family members.  If you're Homer, why would Homer be pictured on the board in Moe's?

I don't mind the cardboard tokens, but I wish they had given us something better than the cardboard playing pieces.  I've been spoiled by the pewter ones included with the Monopoly and Clue games, but those also cost about 10 bucks more.

As for game play, it's surprisingly good.  It's simple enough for younger family members, yet it can be fun for the adults, particularly with the trivia and action cards.  One suggestion I would have is to replace or add the trivia cards from the trivia games to this set.  That will allow you to ask some simpler questions for the kids, and harder questions for the adults.  And besides, it will mix things up a bit more as well.

There's also no reason you couldn't include the action cards from the two trivia games with this game as well, and use those with the Moe's area.  Using a little ingenuity you can spice up the game with some of your own ideas as well.

Where to Buy - 
You aren't going to get these at your local Toys R Us, at least not in any reasonable future.  Even if you live in the U.K., this game is more likely to be at a higher end book store or specialty shop.  But with the wonderful power of the internet, us Yanks still have opportunities.

There's Ebay of course.  I'd avoid it though, unless you're willing to pay a premium.  I bought mine at the web site for W.H. Smith, a book seller in the U.K.  I paid about $28 including shipping, which is likely to be cheaper than you'll find it on Ebay.  But it's worth a look for comparison!

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford

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