This week Monday Night Gaming reviews Jim Henson’s Labyrinth Board Game!
Publisher: River Horse
# of Players: 1-5
Best with: 4 players
Playing Time: 60-90 minutes
We backed this and were very excited to receive this game once they (finally!) started shipping the games to the backers. We sat down recently to play it and found ourselves very easily submerged in the land of Jim Henson.
The game itself is beautiful. The board’s art is detailed and colorful, and the miniatures are detailed as well. Ludo, Sir Didymus, and Hoggle are perfect, while Sarah and Jareth’s faces need some work. The nostalgia effect is strong with this game. (Several folks have painted their miniatures, which then look amazing. We’ve yet to do that!)
General Mechanics: Each player plays as one of the miniatures: Ludo, Sir Didymus, Hoggle, or Sarah (Jareth is who you’re playing against). Even if you don’t have players to fill all the rolls, you will still play with all the miniatures and take turns for each of the five.
Each game is a little bit different in that the board is controlled by cards that determine what effects occur when a non-Jareth character lands on them. Because these cards are different each game, there is the potential for variation in each game.
Each player will roll dice to determine how far into or out of the labyrinth they will go. Once they land on a spot, either they will follow the directions on the card present or they will turn over and place a card to determine what action is taken. Some actions may require the player to face Jareth, move spaces, or fight creatures in the labyrinth. Other dice are rolled to determine if your character succeeds at their tasks, whatever those might be.
Each character has a character sheet depicting his/her speed, wit, and brawn dice. For example, Ludo up above rolls a D6 to determine his Wit (he’s not the smartest character). When going up against Jareth, who might roll a D20 in Wit, he will struggle to win that battle.
Players gain and lose willpower as they progress through the labyrinth. If they lose a battle (like the one mentioned up top), there are consequences, which could be losing willpower or moving further away from the Goblin City. Players can use willpower to reroll dice and win battles against the foes of the Labyrinth. If your willpower dips too low, you’re sent to the oubliette where you fall asleep for a bit. Players also get one-time-use boons they can use to reroll a die or to change the outcome of a round. All this mentioning dice…should make it pretty obvious that this is a dice-heavy game.
The game has two stages to it:
- The group travels through the labyrinth towards Jareth’s castle (aka The Goblin City) while trying to keep their willpower as high as possible (you’ll need your willpower for stage 2).
- Players in stage 2 fight their way into the castle where Sarah must say the magical words to free her brother. (And yes, the game really expects you to say the words and remember them! But you do, don’t you?)
Fighting your way to Jareth does involve battles with several creatures that are much harder than those faced previously. Too bad the designers didn’t shell out for miniatures of the boss creatures. The 2-dimensional cardboard pieces look weird against such a nice game.
Both stages of the game must be completed before the clock strikes 13. The clock advances every turn (once all characters have gone) or if a card says to advance it.
How to Win/Lose: The way to win is to travel to the Goblin City and defeat Jareth before the clock strikes 13. If you don’t, you lose. The game is set up to be a cooperative game as it’s all the characters vs. Jareth, but the game doesn’t quite work as expected. More on that below.
What I Liked: The art. The nostalgia. Totally Jim Henson.
What I Didn’t Like: This game is totally worth playing once or twice for the nostalgia effect but for more serious tabletop players, it falls short. Despite being a co-op game, there isn’t a lot of cooperation necessary beyond, “Hey, I’m going to move towards you.” Too much of the game depends on the luck of the dice instead of actual strategy.
Overall Rating/Impression: 5.5/10. I really want to like this more, but I can’t. Not even for Jim Henson.