1997 Edition; AKA: Atlantic Star
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from 3 customer reviews
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Whether on Broadway in New York or the Spielbudenplatz in Hamburg, life in the theater bubbles over and you're in the middle in it. The glittery world of show stars lures, and everyone wants a long evening of enchantment.
Four musicals and five cities -- as one of up to six managers, you try to make the best musical in town. With Showmanager, you pull the strings. Achieve success with the smart selection from 120 actors, the skillful employment of your scarce funds and the feeling for the suitable musical at the right place. The public is demanding and the competition never sleeps. Only the best manager will receive thunderous applause.
Raise the curtain on Showmanager -- a exciting game for two to six clever impressionists.
This game has wonderful replayability--in the first week I had the game, I played it at least 4 times with my gaming friends. The game play is fast and simple with a little strategizing necessary for managing your money and deciding where to premiere your masterpiece. The random order in which the actors become available makes every game different and makes planning too far ahead hard to do.
When playing I feel like a real showmanager must feel: I have no more money so I have to accept a mediocre actor or maybe an actor that isn't even suitable for a role, but I will make up for it on the next musical I put on and just use this one as a cash cow. And when money is burning a hole in my pocket and I throw away all the available actors for new ones, I feel like saying in a silly french accent 'I am an artiste, I can not work with these people! get rid of them all!'
This is a truly delightful game with simple enough mechanics to be considered a family game, yet with enough depth to be appealing to the more 'hard core' types.
You hire actors to fill roles in musicals. Some actors are better than others, some can fit into several roles, others are specialists. When you've got all the roles filled you debut your musical in one of 5 cities. The cities vary in victory point value and your production will be ranked against others so you've got to be careful. The victory point difference between the best production and the worst production of a musical in a city like New York is very steep!
The fun of the game is the resource (money) and card (actors) management. You spend money hiring actors, and sooner or later you'll be faced with financial hardship. Which show can you afford to take a loan from without hurting its rankings too badly?
Also you need to manage your hand very carefully, you can only have 2 cards left in your hand after a production (1 card in the case of your last production). So you can't hoard good actors for later.
When it isn't your turn pay attention to your fellow producer/player's actor hirings and be sure to chant 'Clear the board!' when you don't like the current selection of available actors.
After everyone has put on all 4 of their musicals the game ends and victory points are tallied.
I find the artwork to be very appealing, fitting well with the lighter mood of the game. The rest of the production quality is also very good. A very minor concern is the repeated use of the grease pencil on the musical chits. I suppose it's possible that the chits could get a bit worn after much repeated use.
All around a very fun game which I highly recommend!
My friend Mark (who taught me this game) has commented below on the mechanics of the game and provided some good comments. It's rather simple but I'm amazed how I really felt confused on my first play of this. Several others have commented on this as well. But it's so simple! Basically, you are hiring actors (or actresses) to put on four different shows (in any desired order) over the course of the game. Each show has actors that will fill the role perfectly. Since you are unlikely to get all perfect fills for your roles, you must settle for less skilled actors and produce the best shows you can. Four cards which represent actors are available for the players on their turn--the first is free, the rest cost increasingly more. You can always spend money to 'WIPE THE BOARD' (usually to the cheers/pleas of your fellow players). Once you put on a show, you can never revisit it except to take a loan out (which gives you more money to buy future actors but reduces the value of the show). To make matters worse, you can't hold too many cards in excess of the show you are producing--so you can often get stuck putting on a show which is less than star quality (for example, my horrible production of King Lear staring a certain nameless body-builder actor whose line I like to shout: 'HORATIO, GET TO THE CHOPPER!'). In the end, every player will produce the same four shows and their relative positions will give victory points (the best Wolf production earns more than the 2nd best Wolf production, etc). Money, in the end, counts for nothing except to break ties. The cities which host the shows change from game to game so sometimes Wolf will be in New York and other times in Hamburg and each city has a different set of victory points for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.
Enough mechanics. My first play of this game left me cold, but I tried it again. I quickly warmed to the theme and to the fast and fun play. There is some nice card management which I always like in a game--and some money management as well. Turns come around lightning quick--sometimes hardly enough time to sort your new actor into your hand when you must play again. The theme holds up rather well for a German/Euro game.
Showmanager plays fairly well with any number of players from 2 to 6. I've played with 3, 4 and 5 players and find the game to be excellent for those numbers. I've been told it works well with 2 also and will try that soon. I've played 4 or 5 times now and have never managed anything but last place. And yet it draws me in and I want to play again. For a game that I thought might hit my trade pile, this one has really grown on me. It's going/gone out of print, so copies that are left will not be around forever. Recommended.