2 Chits, 4 Giggles
"I don't know who you are. I don't know what you want. If you are looking for blue buckets I can tell you I don't have any, but what I do have are a very particular set of cards. Cards I have acquired over the course of the game. Cards that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my buckets go now that'll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you, but if you don't, I will look for you, I will find you and I will knock your buckets down."
- Liam Neeson, Playing Bucket King 3D
In a world where more and more films seem to be getting the 3D treatment, is it time that board games went the same way? This was the approach taken to 2002’s The Bucket King by Stefan Dorra. Unlike many of the recent 3D film releases however, making this game 3D, was a genius idea!
In 2014’s Bucket King 3D, each player is given physical buckets and is tasked to build a triangular buckety tower of joy with them which they will reluctantly knock down throughout the game. These buckets replace the cards used in the original game and are what makes this version three-dimensional. My initial thought was that this could be a gimmick and the game would be pretty much the same as the original. However, combined with the new fantastic artwork, the added element of dexterity makes the game feel fresh and fun.
The game features a deck of five differently coloured suits. The cards in each suit are numbered 1-8. Each player is dealt 10 cards and given 15 tiny colourful plastic shot glasses, 3 of each of the 5 colours (2 for 5-6 player games). After looking at their hand of cards, each player will construct their mighty towers. During a players turn they will play between 1 and 3 cards of the same colour and a direction, left or right. They will then draw 1 card. The numbers on the played cards are added up and it is the job of the next player to attempt to exceed this total using between 1 and 3 cards of the same colour. If they succeed, play passes to the next player who will then attempt to beat the new total. If they fail however, they are brutally forced to flick, poke or otherwise physically remove a bucket from their tower of the same colour as the cards they were unable to beat. Play continues in the same fashion starting with the, now teary-eyed player, who just lost a bucket. The game ends when one player is forced to lose the last bucket from their once glorious tower.
One thing I love about this game is how seemingly simple decisions can quickly become quite involved and personal. You start thinking, “oooh that player has a lot of red buckets at the bottom of their tower. If they have to remove one of them, they will lose lots of buckets. So I will play a red card towards them.” But then, “maybe they have lots of red at the bottom of their tower because they have lots of red cards in their hand… or maybe it’s a bluff. So I could play 3 high red cards towards them making it near impossible to beat my total, but then I only draw one card to replace it meaning I’ll have less cards for the rest of the game.” The one thing I can guarantee will happen is if you hit someone’s tower hard, they will hit you hard right back. But be warned, this usually starts a feud resulting in mutually assured destruction, whilst the other players sit back watch, and invariably win.
I must admit the addition of the 3D buckets doesn’t change the game much from the original. There is a slight chance then when you flick out a bucket, a bucket that shouldn’t have fallen is taken out by mistake, but this doesn’t really happen very often. Having said that however, it really brings this game to life. I really feel the sadistic enjoyment of watching another players tower collapse and the anguish of watching the same thing happen to mine. I like to think of Bucket King 3D as a very sexy reprint of the original game with fantastically funny, colourful artwork and plastic buckets. The game is a quick, family friendly filler that has created some pretty intense rivalries in my gaming group. I would definitely recommend it if you are looking for fresh fun filler games.
Review by Ben Miles