Players start with a hand of seven cards, and, as fast as they can, without any turns, they rush to play their cards onto the open piles on the table. The more players, the fewer the piles, so competition is fierce! The first player to empty their hand is the winner! If the frantic rush of card playing comes to a halt because nobody can play, everyone draws a card to their hand, so you might find yourself on the brink of victory, only to be saddled with extra cards.
LOONACY is a cracking game for families. It isn't a gamer's game as such, not in the way Fluxx is, and I am not sure that it will become a collectible game, again in the way Fluxx is, but it also might do as it has that Looney magic. It is like advanced "Snap!" except that players have more than one pile onto which they can play cards. The idea is simple, play cards from your hand (importantly, only one at a time, but as fast as you can) onto any of the discard piles where one of the illustrations on the top discard pile matches one of the illustrations on the card you are playing. If you are lucky in the deal and you arrange your hand correctly it is possible to play cards machine-gun style, bam! bam! bam!
The idea is to be the first to play out your hand of cards, you begin with 7 cards and only get more cards if it is proved that nobody can play a legal card from those they hold. There are no Turns in LOONACY, everyone plays contually at the same time until one player has emptied their hand or no one can play. Unlike almost every other game, if a player has to suddenly drop out (need to make a soda pop run, pizza delivery arrives etc) then they simply lay their hand down as a stack face up and it becomes another discard pile on which the other players can play. Because there are two UglyDolls on each card you have double the chance of matching them; remember, you only have to match one UglyDoll per card, not both - that is impossible as no two cards are identical. Andrew [Looney] has cleverly consulted with UglyDoll (who actually provided the illustrations) to create pictures where the colours of the UglyDolls are often similar so that it is easy to make a mistake of playing, for example, Pink onto Pink without noticing at first that the UglyDolls depicted are actually different, just both are Pink.
One of the great things about games like Fluxx and Loonacy is that no matter what the illustrations or themes are, the games themselves are so good that even if you don't like or don't know the subject matter they are still so much fun to play. If you are au fait with the subject theme then there is an added bonus of the buzz you get from recognising famous characters and objects etc. and this sparks additional conversation. It is conversation that spreads the word.I have played Loonacy, Retro Loonacy and UglyDoll Loonacy with kids aged from 8 upwards and they have quickly got the hang of how to play and after each game they are ready and wanting to play again, that's the mark of a good family game in my opinion.
Being perfectly honest, I had never heard of the UGLYDOLL franchise until UglyDoll Loonacy was first announced. That's a statement you won't find many reviewers making because they are supposed to know everything. I asked among my family and friends and they were as much in the dark as I was, even the kids hadn't heard of UglyDoll. Well I don't know it all but I do have my opinions, and it is these that I share with GGO readers. I had, of course, heard of Loonacy before I saw this edition, and so of course I Googled UGLYDOLL, and I found a world of, well how do I say this erm! "Ugly Dolls" that was a totally new universe for me.
This game is of several different values.
a). It is great fun to play with all family members, especially the younger ones.
b). If you hadn't heard of UGLYDOLL you have now.
c). Sales of UglyDolls in the UK and around the world where Loonacy is sold will rise.
d). Players will look for other Loonacy games (Loonacy and Retro Loonacy) and begin a collection (as many already have with Fluxx).
PS: I have mentioned Fluxx several times in this review. This is because it is another LooneyLabs game designed by Andrew Looney that is really good for families but also for gamers, plus it is a good game to use as a comparison. If you haven't bnbeen introduced to Fluxx yet, you haven't gamed.
Below are some samples of the illustrations alongside their plushy doppelgangers (as near as I could locate online - the colours of the illustrations are possibly/probably available but I couldn't find them)
Below are some of the plushy UGLYDOLLS available in the UK (I really like the Gene Simmons (KISS) doll.
You can find more at www.uglydolls.com or check online at places like eBay and Amazon