CMON embraces the chaotic fun of the Looney Tunes series with their new board game Looney Tunes Mayhem, and those who jump in will find the franchise’s humor and exhilaration intact. The game features lovable characters such as Bugs Bunny, Tweety Bird, and Wile E.Coyote, and players will create a team of two to take on their opponent in an effort to earn 5 victory points. It’s a simple premise but to win you’ll need to really think about your role, maximize your abilities, and make use of your teammates and their surroundings, and that welcome layer of depth is what makes Looney Tunes Mayhem such an entertaining game.
As the name suggests, you will command characters from the Looney Tunes franchise and use abilities that feel like they were pulled straight out of the cartoon. The base set comes with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, and Taz, and then there’s a separate character pack featuring Tweety Bird, Sylvester, Wile E. Coyote, and the Roadrunner. Each has access to abilities, and the two-sided Toon Dashboards feature alternate ability assortments. Your characters also have one special ability to activate, but how much of those abilities you get will depend on how you roll and how you distribute your rolls.
At the start of a new round, you and your opponent roll your dice, then you add the numbers together and the player with the highest number will start first. You’ll then take those dice rolls and use them to liven up your tunes, and this is where strategy kicks into gear. Each ability has two levels, the standard effect, and the special effect. The standard fires when you place a die in its slot, so you’ll get that effect regardless, but if you roll a number that meets or exceeds the number included in the ability, you’ll activate the special ability class; But there is another level to consider.
When you roll your dice, you’ll also roll the chaos die, which determines how much damage the attacks deal, but can also contain a star. If they do, a text message with a star next to it will activate on your abilities that round, so any given role there are three possible levels to unlock your abilities, and that leads to careful consideration of things like who’s the best toon. Lead the turn, how that sets up your other Toon later in the round, and how that qualifies you for your opponent’s next turn. There is indeed fun in these basic choices, but the game isn’t over giving you tactical opportunities.
These special abilities can give you options such as pulling your opponent into your space or pushing them into another space, as well as striking with melee and multiple attacks, stunning them, and more. You can also heal your teammates, protect them from damage, or hit your opponents with poisoned tokens, although for me the most entertaining option is setting traps. Wile E. Coyote is particularly adept at this, as he can use his abilities to place two traps in a location and can hit a group of spaces with traps in just a few turns. If you can use obstacle symbols, escape symbols, and poison symbols while setting traps, you’ll be a machine to deal damage, though you can also use traps as other characters to great effect as well.
Working with traps and obstacles really opened the game up for me, and it really took me a second to get a feel for the chaos that can ensue during a game. This is because the recommended starter kit didn’t really embrace traps or obstacles, but it did go over the core elements of the game, so the job was done. The game really shined when it started mixing other characters together, as some characters can avoid traps while others can manipulate and draw more Mayhem cards, which are also essential for putting your plans into action but very desirable since you only get a few for the entire game.
Trying all of the Toons and finding a few that fit your playstyle is part of the fun, which is why it’s disappointing that you can only get one upgrade pack. Kickstarter featured eight more characters that were exclusive to backers, and some of my favorite characters are in this set, including Foghorn Leghorn, Marvin The Martian, and Yosemite Sam. Having more characters and decks of abilities to use would make the game more replayable, but even as it stands, the eight-character lineup would be versatile enough on its own for many.
I haven’t mentioned locations yet, which all have a unique activation when you land on them. These locations are fun and effective and I enjoy how the 10-space grid keeps your characters close together and helps speed up interaction. Still, more options to choose from before each game would be welcome. The goal is simple after all, as you’re only trying to earn 5 victory points, so any opportunity to change how you get to that number will help keep games fresh.
When everything comes together, a fun mess ensues, and it can lead to traumatic scenarios. At one point I was one victory point away from winning, and the opponent pulled everything he could to protect me from winning. Even getting to the space I needed was difficult after obstacles were put in my way, and then Mayhem’s cards and abilities kept trying to pull and push my Toons out of position. This contrast was so tense and fun, and it made the win that much better. This doesn’t happen in every game you’re interested in, and this kind of experience will depend greatly on finding the right mix of melodies and abilities to suit your playstyle.
Looney Tunes Mayhem lives up to its name and embraces the fun and over-the-top nature of the franchise, and you’ll likely be surprised at its tactical range.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Posted by: CMON
Designed by: Alexio Schneeberger
Graphic Design: Max Duarte
A copy has been submitted by the publisher for review