Eyes narrow and beads of sweat form on your head. 3! The muscles in your fingers tense, ready to pounce. 2! You scan the field, opponents, blocks, cards. 1! Here it comes. Here it comes. Go! Blocks twist, turn, spin and slide around the table. Your hands are a blur and your eyes dart between the blocks in front of you and the cards on the table. In between breaths you take glances at your opponents’ creations. What are they building? No time! Must focus on your own work. “Match!” some one yells. It isn’t you. You were so close. Your opponent looks into your defeated eyes, “This isn’t CandyLand. This is Match Madness!”
How it Plays
Match Madness comes with rules for two modes of play. In Quick Play, each player gets a set of five puzzle blocks and a number of objective cards are placed face down in the middle of the table in a single stack. The top card is revealed and all players simultaneously race to arrange their blocks to match the card.
If you believe you have made a match, quickly grab the card and then all players will verify that you truly have a match. If so, keep the card and play continues as another card is revealed. If you made an error and your blocks do not match the card, you can no longer compete for it as the others continue to make a match.
Once the stack is finished, whoever collected the most cards is the winner.
In Total Madness, the objective cards are put into five distinct, face up piles in the middle of the table. The different piles are arranged by difficulty and are worth from 1 to 3 points a piece. Simultaneously, players will attempt to arrange their blocks to match any of the face up cards on the table. Once you believe that you have done so, you yell, “Match!” and point to the card you are attempting to mimic. Everyone will then verify if it is indeed a match.
If your arrangement is a match, you take the corresponding card and then everyone resumes trying to make matches. If you made and error and your arrangement was not a match, you lose one of the objective cards you had previously completed. After this is resolved, play continues until all objective cards have been claimed. Whoever has collected the most points is the winner.
Match Madness is a well put together product. The colors are vibrant and the patterns easy to discern from across the table. The blocks are high quality and are sure to last a long time even as they endure the abuse that comes with a speed based game. The two modes of play are a welcome addition and since they work off the same same basic gameplay premise, it’s easy to go between them both. Quick Play is easy to set up and will get you playing within minutes and Total Madness adds another element of strategy. You can try going for the easier, lower point value cards or spend more time going for the harder, more valuable cards. You can even try to spy on your opponents’ blocks and gauge their progress. Maybe you change your objective if you notice you’re trailing behind. And yet, despite all the good things, I wasn’t having any fun.
I don’t like strawberries. There’s nothing wrong with them. They’re a perfectly fine fruit. I don’t fault them for existing. Plenty of people enjoy them. I can see the appeal of them. They’re red and my wife can’t get enough of them. I guess that’s the only appeal I can find in them, but I can admit that they’re just not for me. Match Madness is a strawberry. It’s a game that I can find no fault in its existence aside from the fact that it doesn’t appeal to my particular tastes. Sure it’s wrapped in a pretty package, but a chocolate covered strawberry is still a strawberry at it’s core.
The crux of the game involves spinning your blocks until you can make a match. You’ll be doing this repeatedly. It is the game. If the idea of doing this is unappealing to you, there’s little else for you here. But if it sounds like fun, then boy, oh boy, is this the game for you. Doubly so if you’re quick. The games I look for are those that let me engage with my opponents or with a system in meaningful ways. All too often, I felt flustered and frustrated as I flipped and twisted my blocks to no end. Given enough time, I can puzzle it out by examining the blocks carefully and eliminating certain possibilities. I don’t find it particularly engaging, but I could do it. When speed is introduced as a variable I just fall apart. My chances of winning are very low. And I’m OK with that. If I’m bad at something, I don’t expect to win. I respect Match Madness for not employing a heavy handed catch up system. If you’re better than everyone, you should win most of the time!
Match Madness doesn’t have a lot of subtlety. It’s unabashedly a pattern recreation, puzzle game. Whether or not you like Match Madness comes down to how much you enjoy these types of activities. Enjoy Rubik’s Cubes and tangrams? Then I suspect you’d have a good time with Match Madness. If you’re nonplussed over the idea, there isn’t much else to the game so I’d recommend staying away.
iSlaytheDragon would like to thank FoxMind for providing a review copy of Match Madness.