English language edition
List Price: $34.95
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(Worth 2,795 Funagain Points!)
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Loop and turn, dive and roll -- execute four flight programs using these four maneuvers. Roll the dice and bank around your fellow players. The high point? You alone determine the requirements of your programs.
Each maneuver is played as a card with its own degree of difficulty. The higher this value, the harder it is to roll success; but then of course, success will be worth more points. After four programs comes the crucial free-form segment, which is exciting up to the very end.
The game has the theme of flying airplanes doing tricks at a show, in which players attempt to roll dice to win the game.
Sadly, however, the game is overly complex for the simple concept behind it. I like dice games that involve luck mixed with strategy, but only if they are finished in a reasonable period of time. Lucky Loop games can stretch on too long, long enough that one can get extremely bored. Also, it’s possible for one player to have such a commanding lead that it’s frankly not enjoyable for the other players to continue to participate; or one player can have a commanding lead but still lose miserably due to horrible die rolls. The luck is so high in this game, that they should drop “Loop” from the title. The components are top notch, and the game is fun - but only for a short while. The fun ends long before the game ends.
A scoring board is placed in the middle of the table. The board consists of one main scoring track in the middle, going from “8” to “95”. At each edge of the board, there is a flight plan, with an appropriate name (i.e. “Red Rooster”). Each flight plan has three different colored spaces where cards can be placed (either red, blue, green, or yellow.) There is also a separate scoring track in front of each of these flight plans, ranging from “8” to “20+”. Two decks of cards are shuffled - a blue/red deck and a yellow/green deck, with three cards from each dealt to each player. A dice cup, six black dice, one red die, and a pile of bonus chips are set near the players. One large scoring disc and three smaller ones are given to each player of a specific color. One player is chosen to go first, with play proceeding clockwise around the table.
On a turn, a player must first either draw three new cards into their hand from either deck then discard three, or “file a flight plan.” This involves either the player playing three cards down on one of the flight paths, matching appropriate colors, and discarding any cards already there; or the player replacing a single card from any flight path, again making sure that appropriate colors match up. In the first round, players may only play three cards.
After “declaring” the flight plan, the player attempts to complete the plan. Each flight plan is made up of three cards, each of a different color. The color doesn’t really matter; it is only for purposes of matching the different spots on the board. Each color has an associated word (blue = looping, red = turn, etc.) and is basically there for thematic purposes only. More importantly, each card has three numbers on it. The top number (3-12) is the difficulty of the flight. The two lower numbers, each with an associated space, are the points that card are worth. When a player attempts a flight, they do so with three rounds; although if they fail any of the rounds, the flight is immediately over. In the first round, the player takes the six black dice, setting them in front of him. He then rolls three of the dice and assigns the result to one of the cards, if possible. The player can use one, two, or three of the dice to produce a total equal to or higher than the difficulty number on one of the cards. If the die(dice) is higher than the target number, he places them in the lower space on the card; if equal - on the upper space. As long as he can do this to one of the cards, he proceeds to the second round; otherwise the dice are removed, and play passes to the next player. In the second round, the player again rolls three of the remaining dice and assigns the result to one of the two other cards of the flight plan if possible in the same manner. The player, if successful, has two choices: they can either quit now - which scores them nothing, but they get a bonus chip of their choosing; or they can continue to the third round. In the third round, players roll the remaining dice (three at most) to attempt to meet the difficulty of the last card. If successful, the player scores points for the plan.
They add up the sum of the three victory point numbers that match the spaces their dice rest upon. If the number is eight or higher, they use one of their small scoring discs to mark that number on the victory point associated with that track. The player also moves their large scoring disc on the main track the same amount of spaces.
Afterwards, the player, whether successful or not, draws replacement cards for the flight they attempted and passes play to the next person. Players continue to go, trying to finish all four flight paths. They may repeat flight plans they have already successfully finished but only score points if they exceed their original score, and only by the difference in their amounts. However, the first player to score 12 points for any of the flight plans or surpass the previous high score receives another bonus chip. There are two different types of bonus chips:
- “7th die” - A player can discard this chip to add the seventh red die to their rolls for one round.
- “Roll again” - A player may discard this chip to roll one to three of their dice over again in a round. Play continues around the table, until one player has completed all four flight plans.
At this point, play continues as normal for the other players, but the player(s) who have completed the flight plan must try “free flight” on their next turn. If they trade cards on their turn, they lose one victory point per card traded. When trying a “free flight”, the player must play three to six cards in front of them with a difficulty equal to or higher than twenty-five. The player puts a highlight chip on one of the cards, and then attempts the flight as normal. The card with the highlight chip must be matched exactly, or the entire flight does not work. If a player fails the free flight, they lose two victory points. A player can get a bonus chip in this round only if they complete all but one card in the path. As soon as one player finally completes their free flight plan, the game ends that round, with all players getting their last turn in. The player with the highest total wins!
Some comments on the game...
1.) Components: Queen Games always produces games of the highest quality, and this one is no exception. The box is beautiful, if a tad bit too big, and has nice illustration of biplanes all over, doing fantastic flying feats. The scoring discs are small wooden discs but are easy to move on the large and colorful scoring track. The cards are really nice with different airplane maneuvers picture on each one, adding to the theme of the game. The dice and cup are - well - normal dice and cup. But still, everything fits in the oversized box well, and the game just looks good on the table. The only component that is unneeded is the start marker. I mean, do you really need to pass something around the table to remember whose turn it is? Can’t we just tell by the person who’s rolling the dice?
2.) Rules: The game rules are in German, but I found a good translation on the internet; and although I had to refer back and forth a few times to look at the illustrations, I found the game pretty straight-forward. The game seems to be most easily explained in sections - I don’t mention free flight to beginners until they’ve successfully flown at least one flight. You can introduce the game in sections. It’s fairly simple but still too complex for what the game gives you.
3.) Luck: I’m sorry, but there is just too much of this in the game for my tastes. I know that Yahtzee and Dancing Dice have a lot of luck in them. But at least in those games, I feel like I’m making meaningful decisions as to where I place the dice. In this game, you can roll horribly on your first roll, and your big meaningful decision is to simply pass the dice to the next player. Whee. And the card colors just don’t do it for me. You simply make a flight easier or more difficult - what a massive strategy option that is! Even the bonus chips don’t do much. Save them up until you need them, and the difference between the two isn’t that big of a deal. The luck carries throughout the game but holds fairly steady, until...
4.) Free Flight: I really hate this part of the game. Ooo, you get to choose your own flight plan. That sounds good, but you really only have a few meaningful options. And then rolling the free flight plan is basically a crap shoot. There is no rhyme or reason, and you just hope that you get lucky so that the game finally ends. The free flights are extremely difficult to complete, and so often a player who has done well up to this point simply rolls the dice every turn, failing their flight, and losing two victory points. Isn’t that fun!
5.) Fun Factor: Okay, perhaps I’m being too harsh on the game. I know that it’s not meant to be taken seriously. But at the same time, I felt the same way I did when playing Phase 10 - the game was playing me, not I it. Yes, it’s fun rolling the dice. To continue to do so, round after round, gets boring after a while. I’ve had games stretch to be over an hour, and that’s just too long for this kind of game, especially when there are six people playing.
I really, really wanted to like this game. I read some of the initial reviews and heard that it was “too light and fluffy.” I thought “Aha! A game up my alley!” Well, I’m sorry, but the game is too simplistic even for me; and the fact that the theme and mechanics are just clunky ways to hide this simplicity is a bit annoying. A simple game should revel in its simplicity - like Can’t Stop does. Lucky Loop strives to have complexity, but the end result is fiddliness; and that’s something I rarely use to describe a light game. I loved the theme and wished the game was better; but if I want a game like this, I’ll choose Dancing Dice instead. Fifteen minutes of fun is better than ten minutes of fun and fifty minutes of tedium.
“Real men play board games.”
On my first day at the Games Fair, I was drooling - er, intrigued - by dozens of new games, including the two new Queen Games: Industria and Lucky Loop. I had heard some advance positive buzz about Industria, the latest design from Michael Schacht, so I purchased it without first having had the opportunity to play it. Lucky Loop, however, was one I knew nothing about. A glance at the rear of the box gave me the impression that it was likely a dice-rolling affair with the theme of air shows. Honestly, it didn't intrigue me very much.
Later, however, I heard a few positive comments from folks who played it, so my interest was piqued. The price was right (around 17 euros), so I purchased a copy. I had the opportunity to play it later during the week and found it to be light, dice-rolling fun. Even though it was heavy on the luck side, it was not devoid of decisions, which were on the order of those found in Can't Stop.
The idea is that each player is a stunt pilot participating in air shows. The pilots must successfully complete four shows, each consisting of three different stunts. Each stunt has a difficulty value ranging from 3-12, and the idea is to roll up to three dice and attempt to match or exceed the number using as few dice as possible. Matching the number yields greater points, so is the target. Victory goes to the player with the most cumulative points.
The central board depicts the four shows in which players compete as well as the types of stunts that are required for each show. The possible stunts are turns, loops, dives and rolls and are represented by cards in four suits. The deck is separated into two sections, one containing red & blue cards (loops & turns) and the other containing yellow & green cards (rolls & dives). Each player receives six cards to begin the game, along with four scoring tokens and a special highlight token.
On each turn, a player may play three cards to establish the program for a show or upgrade from 1-3 stunts in an existing show. Alternatively, he can draw three more cards into his hand, discarding down to six. This allows the player to vary the types and values of the cards in his hand. The cards played to the board to form or upgrade a program must match the requirements of that show as depicted on the board. For example, the Red Rooster show requires a turn, dive and loop, while the Rubber Duck show requires a roll, dive and turn.
Then, on each turn, a player attempts to successfully complete a show. The player has a total of six dice with which to successfully perform each stunt required by the show. Three dice are rolled, and the player assigns one or more of these dice to a stunt. He must equal or exceed the number required by each stunt. As mentioned, matching a number exactly yields more points, with exceeding it yielding a few less. The actual dice used are placed onto the card. The player then rolls again, bringing his total dice up to three, if possible. This process is repeated three times unless a player fails to match or exceed a required stunt. In this case, the player's turn is over and no points are scored. If, however, he did manage to complete two of the three required stunts, he receives a bonus chip, which can be used on subsequent turns to either re-roll a set of dice or add an additional die to the number being rolled.
If a player successfully completes all three stunts, he scores the points indicated on the three cards, as well as one point for each die he did not use in completing the stunts. The player marks his total on the score chart located by that show, as well as on the master scoring track located on the center of the board. If the player is the first to meet or exceed 12 points on a particular show, he receives a bonus token. A token is also earned if the player achieves the highest score in a show.
On subsequent turns, a player can either attempt to complete a different show, or improve upon his score in a show that he has already completed. This is why a player might want to upgrade the stunts required in a show - to score even more points. Yes, it is more difficult to successfully complete the show with tougher stunts, but the additional points earned may ultimately prove to be the difference in victory or defeat.
When a player successfully completes all four shows, he must then arrange for a private show. A private show consists of 3-6 cards with a total difficulty value of at least 25 points. That player must then exclusively perform in that show and is no longer allowed to attempt to increase his score in the other four shows. The player marks one of the stunts in this show with his ``highlight'' chip. If he successfully completes the show and matches that stunt's difficulty number exactly, he earns double points for that stunt. These private shows are usually more difficult to complete, but can yield significant numbers of points. It is important to make sure you have a good combination of cards in your hand in preparation for this final show.
When one player completes all four shows and begins his private show, the pressure raises precipitously for the remaining players. Why? Well, once a player completes his special show, the game will go one more round and then end, with the player with the most cumulative points being victorious. Thus, the players who have yet to complete their four shows will be forced to rush to complete their fourth show before a player completes his special show. Once that final round begins, it is very important for players to be in a position to complete their special show. It is very difficult to win the game when an opponent has completed five shows and you have only completed four.
Another important tip is to enter your special show with several bonus tokens. This will allow the player to re-roll or add an additional die to his rolls and make completing that final show considerably easier.
Although there is no escaping that this is a dice-rolling game and therefore highly dependent upon luck, there are some decisions to be made. When playing cards to form shows, do you start with easier stunts so points can be earned quickly, or go for a tougher show early, in case you don't have time to improve your scores? Do you spend time improving your score on previous shows, or try to quickly complete all four shows and move on to your special show? How do you allocate your dice? I've found that it is usually wise to use just a single die to complete a stunt, but it could also be smart to use higher numbers to complete a particularly difficult stunt, even if you don't match it exactly. No, these decisions aren't the types that cause severe anguish, but they still elevate the game beyond an exercise in repeated dice rolling.
Lucky Loop should fill the same niche as such games as Can't Stop, Liar's Dice (Bluff) or Fill or Bust. Only time will tell if it will have the staying power of these games, but for now, it is an enjoyable respite.