Similo Wizarding World: Harry Potter & Fantastic Beasts
We first featured Horrible Guild's Similo game series on Board's Eye View back in February 2020 when there were just two sets (History and Fables). Several others have been published since, including these Wizarding World versions.
Designed by Martino Chiacchiera, Hjalmar Hach and Pierluca Zizzi, Similo is a modern day reimagination of the classic Guess Who? deduction game published by Chad Valley. The series shakes up the standard format with a randomised 'game board' and cooperative game mechanics reminiscent of Mysterium (Libellud) with a silent clue giver guiding the other players to victory.
The silent clue-giver shuffles the deck and draws a card at random to determine the character they need to guide their co-players to. The clue-giver will then draw 11 more random cards and shuffle these together to create the game board, laying each card face up in a 3 x 4 grid. The clue-giver then deals themselves five cards to use as hints to help the other players. Each round the clue-giver will display a card which, depending on its orientation, will give the players clues about the character they are looking for. If the clue is revealed vertically then something about the character on the clue card is similar to the goal character; if the clue is horizontal then something about the clue character is not like the goal character. The other players then need to work together to figure out which card to discard, with the number of discards dictated by the round number, 1 discard in round 1, 2 in round 2 etc, until there are just 2 cards left in round 5 for the players to choose between. If at any point the players discard the goal character then the game is over and all players have lost, but if the players successfully discard the red herrings and are left with the goal character then everyone wins.
The cards in the two Wizarding World offerings consist of characters from both Harry Potter and the Fantastic Beasts movies, tho' you may feel that the Fantastic Beasts deck scrapes the barrel for recognisable characters, including, for example, relatively vague background characters like Ya Zhou (a member of the international confederation of wizards) and the luminescent creature Marmite. This isn't a failing of the game but rather a reflection on the failures of the Fantastic Beasts movie franchise to develop a continuous, coherent and recognisable cast. Nevertheless, in both sets, Xavier Gueniffey Durin's cartoon artwork is consistently engaging.
Whereas previous editions of Similo relied more on general knowledge, these Wizarding World versions do a good job of testing players' more intimate knowledge of the theme. You'll fare best, of course, if all players come to the table with a similar level of knowledge of J K Rowling's creations: players unfamiliar with the theme would likely struggle to spot connections. You'll find that competency is built over consecutive rounds. However, so is the difficulty, which is what has made Similo such a versatile and successful game format.
If you're a Harry Potter and/or Fantastic Beasts fan, these standalone small-box games could be the perfect stocking fillers. And if you’ve collected all the previous editions of Similo (History, Fable, Animals, Myths and the Board Games edition that was produced specially for this year’s Essen Spiel), you’ll certainly want to conjure up copies of these to add to your collection.
(Review by Claire Woodward)
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