“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”
Alice is fighting the Red Queen for control of Wonderland. In addition to the guile and strength of their friends and minions, clever potions (drink me!) and tantalizing treats (eat me!) will affect the outcome in this curious micro game by Renegade studios.
Wonderland is an area control strategy game by Renegade Game Studios for two players that takes about ten minutes to play.
Wonderland is played as a 4×4 grid of cards and each player has a hand of seven cards that will make up this grid. The red queen controls the column edge, while Alice controls the rows. The remaining 3×3 area is Wonderland, where players compete for control.
Gameplay consists of two phases – arrival and placement. During arrival, players alternate placing cards from their hand into their control area face down. During the placement phase, they’ll lay cards face up in Wonderland. One space in the Wonderland grid will always be empty.
In Wonderland, cards can be oriented upright or upside down in order to take advantage of the magic items. Cards have magic items on their edges that will affect cards that neighbor them. Potions cause their neighbors to score zero points. Cakes double the value of their neighbor.
Once all cards have been placed, reveal all the facedown cards on the edges. These cards will indicate the point value of the row or column they border. The player with the highest total value of cards in the row or column in Wonderland (including magic item effects) will score those points. Each player plays as both Alice and the Red Queen – highest total score wins!
Wonderland is a fantastic example of “don’t judge a game by its size.” With a single page of rules and drawstring bag small enough to slip in the tiniest of purses; it’d be easy to dismiss this one as a fluffy time killer. While it’s a beautiful way to pass the time, this isn’t slap jack or go fish. Card selection is thoughtful and placement is deliberate. Even the orientation of cards can make a big difference. Sacrifice a row for a column? Watch your strategy click into place as your best card gets doubled, then hold your head in dismay as it’s zeroed out by your opponent’s potion. This little game has a lot more going on than the average ten minute pocket game.
There’s a small, optional four card expansion gives additional powers like swapping edge cards or switch a rule for a single row or column to score the lowest total value. These are ostensibly for Alice to counteract the Red Queen’s turn order bonus (she’ll always start first) but I found them to be pretty well balanced considering they’ll be placed in the empty grid no matter where it is.
The rulebook is a treat, very concise with a couple diagrams to follow during your first game. I only have one complaint – why isn’t it small enough to fit in the drawstring travel bag with the cards?! I never carry a game without the rules so I’d have to find a way to condense this or re-write a smaller version myself. With the growing popularity of purse/micro games, this seems like a misstep.
The art is gorgeous and perfectly fits the theme – slightly ethereal with a touch of whimsy. The drawstring carry bag is a nice touch and pretty as well.
Excellent, short, micro area control game. Perfect for those that like a little more depth in their filler (but as such, this may not be every casual gamer’s cup of tea.) Fantastic art echoes the theme and small enough for a pocket.
Wonderland is currently marked to be an exclusive product for the annual International Tabletop Day. You can find out more information here, but be sure to visit your local game store on April 28, 2018 to get a copy.
Final Score: 4.5 Stars – This gorgeous, think-y two person micro will add some excitement to your tea-time!
• Great strategy in a short play time
• Small size means it can be carried anywhere
• Few rules, but lots of possibility
• Denser strategy in this small filler may not work for casual players
• Rulebook size negates its inclusion with cards in the travel bag