Updated: Apr 27
Designed by Martino Chiacchiera and Michele Piccolini, with eye-popping art by Dario Cestaro and Miguel Coimbra, Wonder Book is a family-friendly fully cooperative adventure game where 1-4 players follow an unfolding campaign over six 'Chapters'. It's card driven, with a discrete deck for each Chapter, and cards gradually revealed as you go. Tho' we're showing off the game here on Board's Eye View, we're doing our best to avoid giving away any spoilers.
Wonder Book comes with beautifully sculpted minis representing the players' characters - all surprisingly well-armed children, each with their own distinct skills. In an echo of Netflix's Stranger Things, the kids have gone through a portal and are exploring a strange world. They'll be moving around the board, interacting with objects as cards are placed out around the board, and they'll be fighting Wyrms - the goblin-like denizens of this world. The Chapter cards often pose choices for players, similar to those in a 'choose your own adventure' book like Fighting Fantasy (Scholastic Books) or Tunnels & Trolls (Flying Buffalo). Along the way, players will pick up 'keywords' which may or may not come in useful in later encounters...
Not only is the game organised into book-like 'Chapters', the game board is the back and centrefold of a book. And when you open it up, it definitely lives up to its Wonder Book title. Its standout feature - literally - is that it's a pop-up book, with the centrefold opening into a giant tree and with several secret reveals to be encountered as you play through the game's Chapters. Publishers dV Games (aka dV Giochi) have done a great job with the production.
This is a game that's primarily aimed at children, tho' adults will enjoy playing it with their kids as a family game. It can be played solo but you'll enjoy it more with a full complement of four players. Playing through Chapter 1, you'll learn as you play - so there's no significant rules overhead: you can pretty much just jump in. Combat with the Wyrms is determined using custom six-sided dice that have three hits and three misses, so every roll has a 50% chance of succeeding or failing, which is a very high luck factor. There's plenty to explore and discover but tho' there are branching choices to be made, the Chapters are quite linear. If you fail a Chapter, you'll be expected to start it again, tho' on a second run you'll have the advantage of knowing what 'surprises' are in store for you. Depending on your point of view, you might feel that this is repetitive. In our Board's Eye View plays, however, it felt more like the second runs in TIME Stories (Space Cowboys), where we built on what we'd learned the first time around.
Once you've campaigned through all six Chapters, Wonder Book probably isn't a game that you'll return to - except perhaps after a passage of time. But it's not a legacy game: you're not marking or destroying any components and the cards are all numbered so can be put back in their original order to reset the game for another group to experience.