For all the power wizards wield, you’d think we’d be above pettiness and meaningless displays of talent.
But you’d be wrong. There’s nothing us wizards enjoy more than showing off. That is why this talent show is of utmost importance! To the winner comes bragging rights. To the loser, shame from his peers.
I am no loser. I have been practicing. Rabbits and hats? Child’s play. Levitation? Ha! I levitate in my sleep. These parlor tricks simply will not do. I have greater displays of magic up my sleeve. I have tricks that are truly worthy of the phrase: Ta-Da!
How it Plays
Just because magic allows you to break the rules of nature itself, doesn’t mean there aren’t rules to magic. Order and procedure must be followed in this talent show.
First things first, you gather 6 spell dice and matching colored cup. To be victorious, you must cast 6 spells before anyone else over a series of rounds.
Each round begins by drawing spell cards from the common spell deck until everyone has 2 spells. A feat card is then revealed and read aloud to all players. Feat cards place limitations on all players that must be adhered to for the round. If anyone breaks the rules of the feat cards, they are eliminated from that round.
All players then select one of their two spells that they would like to attempt this round and place it face up in front of them. When everyone has a spell chosen, players place their dice in their cups and the round begins.
When casting spells, you roll the dice from your cup and select a die that matches a symbol on your chosen spell card. You place that die on that symbol, put the rest of the dice back into the cup and continue this process until someone has completed their spell. This is all happening in real time and all players acting simultaneously. When you’ve completed your spell, you yell, “Ta-Da!” and slam your cup upside down on the table.
Play continues until someone has completed 6 spells and wins the talent show.
The Greatest Trick
There isn’t much to Ta-Da! You roll some dice, pick one, and roll some more. Even when compared to other Yahtzee-inspired games, Ta-Da! is very simple. In Ta-Da! you choose only 1 die per roll whereas most games with this dice rolling system allow you to select multiple dice per roll. The challenge usually comes in deciding in the moment which dice to select and how far you’ll push your luck. In Ta-Da! the challenge comes from… recognizing the which die matches a symbol on your spell card.
However, a quick inspection of the dice reveals something interesting. There are a total of 4 different symbols on the dice; 2 of which show up twice and the other 2 show up once. That means that spells with the rarer symbols are inherently more difficult to complete. Whenever you have to choose a die, it’s best to select one of the rarer symbols if it shows up. But this isn’t a matter of pushing your luck; it’s how quickly you can recognize the die faces. It’s purely a speed game. Whoever is quicker to roll, quicker to recognize, and quicker to gather is at a distinct advantage.
It’s a shift away from the way the typical dice games I enjoy work. It takes the game further from the realm of mental exercise towards physical. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy the physicality of tabletop games. Feeling the dice in my hands, moving pawns on the boards, and shuffling a hand of cards connect me to the game in ways that digital games can’t quite do. However, tabletop is the intersection of mental and physical, and Ta-Da! is all physical. The few decisions that are present are brain-dead simple.
I found that selecting the spell for each round came down to selecting the easiest one to accomplish. Most of the spells have 4 symbols on them, but some of them have 5. The ones with more symbols will grant you a bonus (usually at the expense of someone else), but that extra time required to accomplish it meant that it rarely came into play during our sessions. I found that it was pretty easy to get the 4 symbols needed in 4 rolls. If you luck is against you and you need more than 4 or 5 rolls, you really don’t have a chance to win that round. It is true that at higher player counts there is more than one winner per round, but I still found that it’s best to go with the easiest spell.
Entertainment For Whom?
The bones of Ta-Da! are incredibly simple. If that were all there were to it, I’d nonplussed to say the least. But of course there’s more: the feat cards. They are, quite literally, the wild cards. Every flip of a feat card introduces strange, often silly, elements into the experiences. Some examples include having to hold your index finger under your nose for the entire round or yelling, “Huzzah!” after each die selection.
I won’t lie, we laughed. It was funny seeing a group of people around a table swinging their arms around like a dinosaur. But it was shallow and short lived. It’s entertaining in the same way as watching a cat video: a fleeting chuckle in a sea of noise.
Ta-Da! is basically a game of Simon Says with the game acting as the instructor. And much like Simon Says, it is a better spectator game than to actually participate in. Seeing people yell and flair around is certainly a sight, but acting it out is a robotic endeavor. It’s just following instructions as fast as possible. There is very little room for thought and decision making. There’s very little interaction between players. And there’s very little room to interject your personality into the game. I never felt like I was playing with the people at the table, we just happened to be doing the same activity together.
Sometimes the simplest games can be the most difficult to get right. It’s noble to try and design a game that appeals to a wide audience, and there should be games that appeal to all tastes and preferences. The danger comes in watering down the experience so much that it become indistinct. Ta-Da! is a simple and silly diversion. It’s generally inoffensive. It’s also not very memorable. It doesn’t engage the mind and it doesn’t take advantage of the greatest asset that all tabletop games share: the players themselves. It will likely entertain children who need an outlet for pent up energy, but it didn’t satisfy my desire to actually play a game with my friends.
iSlaytheDragon would like to thank Cool Mini or Not for providing a review copy of Ta-Da!