Developer: 9th Level Games
Format: Board Game
Number of Players: 1-5 Players
Price: $39 on Kickstarter
Prototype Provided By Publisher
Do you ever get tired of having to save the world? It’s an odd question, but for lovers of co-operative board games, this might be a real concern. Pandemic, Spirit Island… most games where you play on a team have you trying to survive a terrible disaster, some epic event that can end many lives all at once!
So imagine my surprise when I found myself falling in love with a co-operative game that’s all about… hosting a Friday night hangout? Welcome to Meeple Party.
The Fundamentals Of Partying
Meeple Party has a very simple premise that works very well: you and your housemates want to throw a party. A party so good in fact, that everybody will remember it. The game is won when you manage run out the clock - either Friday night for a quicker game, or Saturday for a longer challenge - and the clock only advances when one of the players manages to take one of two photos in front of them. However, disasters are also in front of each player, threatening to cause freak outs. If each player ends up with three stress, then the party shuts down early, and you lose.
Some various chances at victory - or complete disaster!
What are the requirements for photos and disasters? That's when the meeple colors come into play, and the real puzzle starts to appear. Each turn, a player has to grab a random meeple out of the pouch and place it into the house. While this is less intimidating than say, adding disease cubes, each color of meeple has a different effect on the room they are placed in. A Flirt meeple, for example, automatically pulls another piece closer to themselves. In contrast, the Jerk meeple will push a person out of the room and into another place in the party. It's a simple effect, but it changes the board state, potentially letting you score a photo or setting another player up for disaster.
That's not the only modifier you have to watch out for of course; you also always have to move one party guest inside the house as well each turn, causing more changes each round. Keep in mind that each player is a larger meeple themselves of the various types - the Jerk, Flirt , Cool , Party Animal , or Wallflower - and can also be moved. Each player has to watch out for one unknown modifier, and also plan out a move of a piece they already know inside the party, creating a lot of strategizing while also building tension. This doesn't take into effect that while there are up to five color meeples of each type in the bag, there are also five surprises also hidden in there. As more meeples leave the bag and join the party, that means there's a greater and greater chance of the unknown occuring. When a card like "The Munchies" hits, and a massive chunk of the party dashes into the kitchen, it can really upset your plans, or create new opportunities.
What Works Best
One of the best things going for Meeple Party is also the most obvious: it’s theme and personality. Many of the games we play during our game nights have an end-of-world tone, like Thanos Rising, so this very bright and very colorful game stands out immediately. The art direction is unique and still filled with flavor I haven't seen in other co-operative games; the game lends itself to light heartedness and a party atmosphere itself. I can see a lot of new board gamers enjoying Meeple Party much faster than something with a heavier and darker theme, because it appears less intimidating on the surface.
Meeple Party has a lot of pieces that come with it, allowing for replayability and versatility.
Don't let that fool you though to make you think Meeple Party doesn't have a bit of challenge. The puzzle aspect of the game seems incredibly strong in the times we've pulled out the game to try it. Sure, at first it seems very easy to manipulate the board to make sure disasters are avoided and score a few photos, but as each turn goes by, and more and more meeples crowd into the house, the changes for failures grows. The need to puzzle out what will happen when you move a meeple grows stronger, thanks to the cascading effects of having so many party guests. Some really funny things can happen, like when multiple jerks end up in a room. You can almost imagine, perhaps from memories of your own days in high school or college, as various disasters like a smoke alarm going off occur. With over a hundred cards, and room tiles that can be moved about or flipped to create more difficult houses, there is a ton of replayability here as well. If the Meeple Party theme suits you, there is a lot of game here waiting for you.
A Unique Theme For A Fun Puzzle
I'll be quite honest - my deep love of Pandemic had me wondering if I would like Meeple Party. My first look at the art and rules had me a little suspicious, but what I found was a game that was highly approachable while still offering a challenge. I can't sell hard enough how much I enjoy the modular nature of the game, letting you pump up the difficulty as much as you like. Playing this as a solo game is actually a lot of fun, and has a Solitaire feel in the cause-and-effect of pushing or pulling various meeples. The theme (and the phenomonal art choices!) make moments stand out, playing out the scenes in your mind... or letting you laugh loudly with friends as all of your plans come to ruin.
The board itself is made up of reversible tiles, letting you set up the house however you like. Meeple Party is incredibly modular, letting you change how the game plays out.
As I finish writing this, there will be a little less than 24 hours on the clock to see Meeple Party through Kickstarter. While the game is already funded, the upcoming stretch goals promise to add even more variety to the game, such as pets or new game-changing effects! $39 is a fantastic price for everything you get, and for a small box with plenty of components, Meeple Party offers a lot of replayability that's also incredibly accessible for board gamers new or old.
What are you waiting for? Go check out the Kickstarter, and see if its right for you!