My wife and I picked up this Lion King board game at Target for just over $6 after tax. Thought we would give it a try with our almost 5-year-old daughter. The first impression, it looks like a cute game, and my daughter was excited to play it. Outside of that if you’re child is into board games already, I would probably stay away from this. I think this is one of those games where Spin Master made a cheap product, and the gameplay suffers because of it.
The game’s goal is to collect 4 “food” tokens that your character is after. Timon and Pumbaa are after bugs, while Simba and Nola are after more meaty animals to devour. In the game, you spin Rafiki to see how far you move. You get tokens by landing on Hippo spaces, and you get to retrieve tokens at “random” from 1 of the two hippos.
Other spaces repeat spin or contain tokens on them. These tokens by the majority are bad. Collect 3 hyenas, and lose one of your food tokens. Find Scar, and you got about a 50/50 shot to lose one. Find Mufasa, and he could save you for them.
The last space available is a search. You get to search the Elephant graveyard for a token you can use. Tokens get sent there from the hyenas, scar or if a player can’t use what the hippos gave up.
The game, nice graphic, but instead of the graphic being printed on the box, it’s on paper glued to the box. The box is also rather big. It won’t fit on your Kallax shelf. I think they easily could have shrunk the game board to make it fit and it wouldn’t affect the intended audience play performance.
The tokens are cardboard, the playmats cardboard. Ours had minor bends to begin with. The player markers are cardboard on plastic stands. Not horrible for the audience of children.
The scenery pieces cheap cardboard. My wife broke a tab off when we took it apart to put away. They also didn’t fit into the board very well. Pride rock had 5 tabs, but the board only had 3 holes. The skull for the elephant graveyard didn’t bend nice and hold what I believe is the intended shape.
The hippos were cute. Worked for the most part. They do seem to have a flaw of the disks needing to be lined up perfectly to eject, same with putting more in. You have to load them one at a time into the hippos belly.
The worst part of the pieces was Rafiki. He didn’t spin more than one revolution. He was off-balanced, personally wasn’t the easiest to see what number he was pointing to. 100% wrecks gameplay as my daughter had difficulty moving him 1 or 2 space on the spinner. My wife and I at full flick basically landed right next to what the previous player had “spun.”
House Rules/Game Play Recommendations
Play either 2 or 4 players if you want a fair game. At least then, players are either collecting the same stuff or opposites. If you play a 3 player, they have an advantage of reading the graveyard for all their stuff that the other 2 players couldn’t use.
If you want to make the game more even, collect 4 unique tokens, and not worry about matching the specific 4. Or you could try matching 2 pairs. Then having to find Scar and Hyenas to remove tokens you no longer want, or do a swap out.
I also wouldn’t waste time separating the hippos into 2 identical stacks each game. That requires unloading pieces you haven’t used to match the 2 back up equally. I find that silly. Load them back to 10 and put them back in the box for next time.
We need to fix Rafiki if this game will last on our gaming shelf. Probably will upgrade the elephant graveyard cardboard to a 3d printed skull if we can find one. Reach out if you are interested in these upgrades.
If you find the game on sale for $5 or so, I would grab it if you have a Lion King lover. I know this review doesn’t put it completely in a good light. Based on a single play, 1 out of 5 stars for Kids, 100% because the components are not good. 2.67 out of 5 if things worked as intended. As an adult and avid gamer. No pass, not unless I found it for around $1. Still if you’re interested in the game. Check it out on Amazon with our affiliate link. Plenty of reviews on there as well.