You remind me of the babe. What babe? The babe with the power, of course.
Fans of Jim Henson, David Bowie, 80's movies, and adventure stories gather together in their shared love of Labyrinth. This cult classic movie has lived on in the hearts of fans for decades now, and recently (well, in 2016) inspired a board game based on its plot and characters.
The movie is fantastic. But what about the board game?
Here’s our thoughts on it:
Give Me the Child: The Basic Story of the Game
If you’ve seen the movie, you’re already familiar with the story of Labyrinth: The Board Game.
Sarah, one of the playable characters, and protagonist of the movie, has wished away her baby brother in a fit of annoyance with the child. The Goblin King Jareth (aka David Bowie in extremely tight pants and extremely fluffy hair) has unexpectedly granted her wish, and now she must journey through the great labyrinth, fight her way through the Goblin City, and solve the Goblin King’s Palace Maze to rescue the child. Along the way, she gains the help of Hoggle, Ludo, and Sir Didymus and his mount Ambrosius (the other playable characters in the board game). Together they face off against the creatures, puzzles, and challenges of the strange goblin world.
I Have Fought My Way Here to the Castle: How the Game Plays
This game is relatively simple to learn to play.
The board spaces are arranged in a circle, with each space the size of a Labyrinth card, which you draw when you land on an empty one. After drawing the card, you complete its text (either making a contested roll or simply keeping the card going forward, sometimes moving the Jareth miniature to your space).
You’re either rolling Speed, Wits, or Brawn, each of the characters having been assigned a different die for each attribute. Sarah, for example, has a d10 for Speed and Wits, but a d6 for Brawn. Ideally, you want to be rolling a higher sided die than your opponent, which is specified by the card.
You keep doing so until you draw the card to enter the Goblin City, when you can make your way through the inner spaces of the board, to eventually make a roll against Jareth himself. If you succeed, you recite the poem from the movie, and declare yourself winner
Of course, also like the movie, you have only 13 hours (read: 13 rounds) to complete your quest. That makes everything you do a little bit more urgent…
Luck vs. Strategy
This game is honestly more luck than strategy. You rely on luck to have the contests you draw be favorable to you, and also that you draw the Entrance to Goblin City card soon enough to be able to face Jareth at all.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t any strategy to the game.
You can use Inspiration tokens to re-roll in contests, and special abilities to make a d20 roll instead. Balancing using these abilities with preserving them for the end game is vital to succeeding. You also need to learn when to roll or move as a group, and when to do so alone, for the best chances of success.
Number of Players
There is always going to be 4 characters on the board, no matter how many people are controlling them. 1 person can play all 4, 2 people can play 2 each, or 4 can play 1 character. 3 players might have to decide who takes on an extra character, though.
And, if you have 5 players, the extra hand is instructed to play as Jareth. This means that they roll the dice against the players and allow Jareth to move more freely than he does in fewer player games.
Since the number of characters is consistent, the game remains the same level of entertaining no matter how many people you have playing!
For My Will is as Strong as Yours: The History and Availability of the Game
The game released in 2016, to a middling reception. Most hard-core gamers found the mechanics a little repetitive and simple, while family gamers tended to like its ease-of-learning, and movie fans appreciated the quality of the art and accuracy to the movie.
You can easily buy the game online from Amazon, the River Horse Games website (here), or at your local game store!
There are 2 expansions now available for the game: Goblins and Fireys. The Goblin expansion gives you new miniatures to use in the Goblin City, as well as additional cards to include if you want to change it up a bit. The Fireys also give you Firey miniatures, and new cards, which make the game harder by allowing them to ‘steal’ certain dice from play.
These expansions make the game harder, but do add a great deal of replay value. They also add some of the complexity that earlier reviews complain about the game lacking.
You Have No Power Over Me: Our Personal Thoughts
This game is clearly meant to be played mainly by fans of the movie. There are several cards that require you to quote the film (only highly memorable lines, thankfully), and each Labyrinth event card mirrors an event from the movie. That, tripled with the fact that the game follows the plot of the movie, pretty much requires you to be invested in the film to be invested in the game.
Personally, I love the movie. I watched it several times as a child, with my family, and dozens more times as an adult. I’m not quite the buff that some of my friends and family members are (my aunt, in particular, can quote practically the whole thing), but I had no problem with the cards that required quotations. And as a result, I found the game incredibly enjoyable, even if we did lose the first time played.
If you haven’t seen Labyrinth the movie, I can’t recommend it enough! It’s a little more adult than most Jim Henson work, but not so much that it can’t be enjoyed by children. The cinematography is gorgeous, and the plotline interesting and compelling. Plus, the music is fantastic! You’ll be singing Magic Dance for a month.
If you have a free evening, sit your friends (or kids) down, watch the movie, and play the game! Pop on some Bowie music in the background, and you’ve got a fantastic game night made.
Have you ever played Labyrinth: The Board Game? What did you think? Have you tried it with the expansions? Let us know in the comments below!