Review: Magic Feather
If you’re parent looking for a fun entry level board game that you can play with your kids, Wiggity Bang has the product for you in Magic Feather. I first encountered Wiggity Bang at Gen Con Indy 2012, when I ran across their booth, manned by game designer Matt Rivaldi. Matt has been quietly designing fun, family friendly games since 2004, attaining critical success with the multi-award-winning Quelf, which is now being published under Spin Master, Ltd. Now admittedly, I’m going to be biased towards any game company that has the phrase, “bring people together the good old-fashioned way — face-to-face — to talk, play, laugh and have fun.” That’s what we’re all about! Still, Magic Feather succeeds on its own merits, and is a fun experience your family will enjoy.
Magic Feather comes in an attractive and well-designed, hinged box. The art style is simple, but bold and attractive. The cartoon animals which form the focus of the game have great expressive faces, from the fearful look on Fuzzball to the malicious and wild grins on the crows. The board is sturdy, easy to navigate, and features illustrations of a similar style to the art previously mentioned. Other components include two decks (a 200 card Magic Feather deck and a six card Story deck) and a 20 second timer. In regards to production, the cards are my only complaint. They are a bit thin, and I could see them getting bent easily, especially by the games target audience (age 7+). Seven year-olds may also need assistance reading some of the cards.
Magic Feather’s gameplay is easy to learn and simple (the rules take up one double-sided half sheet of paper), but by the nature of its elements, also very exciting. The object of the game is to be the first to complete a Story Card. Story Cards give each game a unique set-up and objective.
You start the game by selecting a character, a crow, and a titular magic feather. A story card is also selected and players follow the directions on it for placement of each of the above mentioned items. In general terms, the objective involves getting your character a magic feather and then reaching a certain location on the map with it in your possession. Once there you must complete a final task such as reciting a silly phrase (Crows Can Caw, Can’t Cats Claw? four-times-fast) or performing a silly action (splash your face with water and do 10 jumping jacks before the timer runs out), and this really illustrates the heart of this game: being fun and silly.
Being willing to be silly is a pervasive aspect at the core of the game, because to get anywhere on the board you have to be willing to ham it up. To move you flip over a card from the Magic Feather deck and follow the directions. If you do, you get to move a number of squares equal to the value at the bottom of the card. These are almost always some short funny task or a humorous question that reveal something about the players. Some examples are:
Timer cards use the games 20 second timer. Other cards just require you to do the task or answer a question. Many of the questions are open-ended (can be answered correctly in many ways) so it is best to just give the player the benefit of the doubt, and I couldn’t imagine many situations where a player wouldn’t be able to move or finish an objective. This may seem to take away some of the tension from play, but once again, that isn’t what the game is about.
Once you’ve accomplished a task or answered the question you can move the allotted amount of squares. Finding the best route is part of the fun here, and the board throws some curve-balls like one-way and branching paths to keep things interesting. Crow Cards can also effect movement. In some scenarios crows can be placed to block paths when a Crow Card comes up, which adds additional depth without complicating the rules.
One aspect of the game I wish had more impact is the Magic Feather. The feathers are essentially just a necessary part of the victory condition of the game, despite the hype surrounding them. One thing that would be neat is if they granted an additional ability like extra movement or the ability to jump crows. I do however appreciate that they slot onto your character’s pawn which just looks cool.
+ Easy to learn rules let you start having fun right away
+ 6 Story Cards and 200 Magic Feather Cards add huge variety to the game play
+ Tasks are fast and fun
+ Game components reflect the silly and fun nature of the game
+ A great game for family game night
+ Well priced at $19.95
– Cards are a bit flimsy
– Open ended nature of some tasks make success vague at times
– Magic Feathers would seem more special if they had an added effect on some cards
– Requires pencil and paper (not a big deal, but not included)
Magic Feather is definitely a kids game, but it is a kids game adults can enjoy with their children. You will learn more about your child/children and how they think by playing this game. Questions like, “Name three things you are scared of?” or “Do you think it’s ok to eat the last cookie?” will give you insight into how they think. In my mind, that’s quite a powerful thing for a game to be able to do.
Magic Feather is a great way to spend a family game night and will be a hit with its target audience (7+). It could also be a great introduction for younger gamers to the world of board games and face-to-face play. You can purchase Magic Feather from their (Wiggity Bang) website or your friendly local game store for the suggested retail price of $19.95.