Bill & Ted’s Excellent Board Game was launched at this years Gen Con and featured in our Gen Con Top Ten on the Purple Meeple Podcast, this programmed movement game comes from Steve Jackson Games (perhaps best known for Munchkin). But putting our optimism and respected designer aside, is Bill & Ted’s Excellent Board Game most triumphant or totally bogus?
In Bill & Ted’s Excellent Board Game you play as Bill S. Preston Esquire and “Ted” Theodore Logan, travelling through the circuits of time in an effort to kidnap dudes of historical significance (such as Joan Of Arc and Socrates), in order to return to San Dimas in time to complete your Oral History Report, then going on to form Wyld Stallyns and creating music that will become the foundation of Earth’s Utopian future! But beware, there’s a couple of most heinous antagonists hot on your trail, trying to set back your progress at every turn!
In Bill & Ted’s Excellent Board Game (which from here on will be referred to as B&TEBG) up to four players take on the role of Bill & Ted – naturally alternate versions from different parts of the time line – racing around the board trying to collect on of each historical figure (represented by tiles) before the other players.
What makes this so difficult is the fact that this is a programmed movement game, at the start of each turn all players draw two cards, which will feature two directions you can move in, in the top left, a symbol representing one of the villains in the bottom right and a number, the player with the lowest number at the bottom of their card makes their movements first – unless of course you draw the 69 card which automatically acts as the lowest number – 69 dudes!
Now the more characters you collect the harder it is to control your time travelling phone booth, as each character will have directions on the base of their tile which represent movements you have to take at the start of each of your turns. (This whole feature is intended to mirror the plot point in the film of the damaged time machine causing Bill & Ted to lose control over where they’re going)
Because of this the longer the game goes on and the closer you come to winning the more you struggle to accurately predict your movements now that wouldn’t be too bad, but you also have two villains moving around the board, and if you crash into them you lose one of the characters you’ve collected, you can pick them up again, but this takes valuable time in which other players might fly ahead of you.
I am a pretty big Bill & Ted fan, so needless to say I was excited about B&TEBG from the get go, however I’m not a big fan of programmed movement games, I feel in some cases it can be a difficult mechanic that can get in the way of actually having fun – I’m looking at you Robo Rally.
But in the case of Bill & Ted? I’d say that it definitely works as part of the game, despite my initial fears I don’t find myself getting too confused or losing track of where I’ll be moving to, although admittedly there are times when you’ll plan for the movements of characters you’ve already collected and find you lose a character due to another player having to move the villains. But that’s all part of the game, and it doesn’t come with a “take that” feel, it’s not that the other players want to get in your way, they just can’t help it.
And it is the “they just can’t help it” portion that perhaps makes this a really good game, everyone gets so immersed in what they’re doing, where they’re trying to move to and who they need to collect that it doesn’t feel malicious, but at the same time this player interaction keeps your eyes on the board even outside of your turn as everything could effect you.
On the lines of components there’s not an awful lot to this game, we’re really talking tiles, cards, standees and the board, all of which are pretty good quality, and although I know a lot of people would probably rather have miniature phone booths rather than standees, the flatness of them is beneficial when there are multiple standees occupying one space, which in this game is most definitely going to happen. The artwork across all the components looks great lending a cartoonish look to the Bill & Ted cast and the cards even show moments from the film in chronological order from 1-69 which is a nice way of working in as much as possible from the story.
So with that said, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Board Game, a good, fun programmed movement game, that gets everyone involved and serves as a solid representation of Bill & Ted’s adventure in board game form! My only complaint? I think it should be Bill & Ted’s MOST Excellent Board Game, because that’s what I keep telling people it’s called anyway. Bring on Bill & Ted’s Bogus Card Game!
69 out of 5 dudes!
Oh…Sarah’s not going to approve that rating…
By Zach M. Whittaker Esquire.