Wonderland Xiii Review

Wonderland Xiii
Set Collection, Hand Management, Press Your Luck
Play With Us Design
Shi Chen

Wonderland Xiii is an absolutely beautiful game of gathering sets and pushing your luck as far as you can.  By blending card drafting and set collection, Wonderland Xiii generates a surprising amount of tactical tension for what is otherwise a very simple to learn, uncomplicated little game.

There is no chapter thirteen.  It’s that simple.  Lewis Carol’s classic story concludes with Alice’s awakening from Wonderland, and the story ends there.  But what if it continued?  The dream of that thirteenth chapter is what inspired the theme of Wonderland Xiii, a game where players will gather fragments of what might have been, forming sets as they try to architect the shape of what might have been.

Jess: So, first thing’s first – Wonderland Xiii is a darn pretty game.

Andrew: I’ll say – I didn’t know precisely what to expect from this one – the small box is nondescript enough.  But the art and presentation is fantastic!

Gameosity received a review copy of Wonderland Xiii.  We were not otherwise compensated.  This game came from Play With Us Designs.

But Wonderland Xii has more going on than just pretty presentation.  In it, each player is trying to build a tableau of cards which will score them points.  To do so, they will draw cards from one of the available decks (five, to start with), pulling cards into a temporary holding space, their ‘Tunnel’.  So long as they don’t have three or more of the same character in their Tunnel, players can opt to keep drawing cards, adding more and more until they either bust or decide to stop.

If they decide to stop, the cards from the Tunnel move to their Notebook, which is where they need to be in order to form sets for scoring at the end of the game.  However, if before they stop they draw a third identical card to one in their Tunnel, they bust for the turn and all cards they’ve drawn are discarded.

Jess: What makes it all interesting, apart from the whole press your luck thing which we know and love, is how after every draw, you can use the powers of the cards in your Tunnel.  Each character does something different, manipulating the cards in some way, and smart applications of their powers is key to gathering lots of cards to score at the end.

Wonderland Xiii continues this way, with players alternating drawing cards and using powers, until some of the draw decks are empty (based on player count).  Players score points for sets of cards, either complete sets of characters or based on how many copies of a card they have managed to collect.  The player with the most points wins.

Andrew: So, I know you love a good card game – did you love Wonderland Xiii?

Jess: I did!  The aesthetic was wonderful, but my favorite part was definitely the whole press your luck part.  I liked seeing how far I could stretch a turn, staying just ahead of a bust by using my character powers.

Andrew: I totally agree.  And while Wonderland Xiii isn’t a complicated game, there was a little more strategy than I’ve come to expect from strict press your luck games – it was important to keep an eye on what copies of cards had already been drawn, so you could assess your vulnerability to a bust with each pull.  And you’re totally right, the game’s gorgeous.

Jess: I guess my only real nitpick is that the theme is only really present in the art – for as beautiful as the cards are (and I love the keys), it’s really only skin-deep.  Still, the gameplay itself is fun, if not particularly thematic.

All in all, Wonderland Xiii presents a tight package – quick gameplay and an attractive presentation accentuate the clever, accessible design at work here.  While there isn’t too much in the way of depth, we found Wonderland Xiii to be engaging at all player counts, though we thought three was the sweet spot.  If you’re looking for something portable, pretty, and playable, then consider seeking out the enchanting Wonderland Xiii!

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