I must admit that when I first sat down to play Toy Story: Obstacles and Adventures with my seasoned gaming group of thirty-somethings, there were more than a few raised eyebrows. But I swore to them that I’d read the rulebook and it actually sounded like something we’d totally enjoy.
They were judging a book by its cover (and I’ll be honest that I did the same before cracking open the rulebook), but I had an inkling of what lay inside.
At the end of Adventure 1, they wanted to play Adventure 2. The next time I said, “We could play Toy Story,” it was met with nods of approval. At the end of each session, we reveled at how much fun we’d had playing what for all intents and purposes is a child’s game. We don’t care! Toy Story: Obstacles and Adventures offers simple fun with just enough challenge and we grown men dig it.
Playing Toy Story: Obstacles and Adventures
The concept of the game is relatively simple: Players take on the role of one of five toys – Woody, Rex, Buzz, Bo Peep, and Jessie – and work together to overcome Dangers and Hazards before a token advances to the end of a track.
Each toy has a unique starter deck that is used to purchase additional cards. All cards will provide you with one of three resources or a combination thereof:
- Imagination which is used to purchase more cards,
- Insight which is used to resolve Hazards,
- or Health which allows you to regain some number of HP.
As with all deck builders, more cards is more better, so Imagination is key to purchase cards that up your ability to gain all of the resources. All Hazards must be eliminated before the token reaches the end of the tracker board in order for the Toys to net a win.
Dropping to zero health means your toy gets Shelved which costs you all currently-owned resources and half the cards in your hand. It has consequence, for sure, but fear not! At the end of your turn you are “repaired” and regain all your HP. This is a kid’s game, after all. Nobody dies. You just get your batteries removed for a spell or pop a seam.
The game comes with six Adventures modeled after the Toy Story movies, so a fan of the franchise will love every Danger, Hazard, Item, and Friend! It all feels very familiar.
Staking Our C.L.A.I.M. on Toy Story: Obstacles and Adventures
I’m going to be upfront with you: I can’t nitpick a single thing about the components of this game, which is unusual for me. Everything from the game boards to the rulebook to the cards to the chits is sturdy. Even the box insert is pretty darned good!
I love that there is a place in the back of the rulebook to track plays and store the extra rules that unfold as you progress through the Adventures.
Heck, the little token you use on the tracker board is metal. I don’t know why it is metal, but it is awesome that it is metal. And there’s a unique one for every Adventure! Again: Why?! Again: Who cares! It’s awesome!
Every piece feels like it received due attention and production. Aces on this front.
The aspect of Toy Story: Adventures and Obstacles that will introduce the greatest variance from play-to-play is in the pool of cards available for purchase at any given time, as well as the number of cards in each stack. Early on you’ll see much of the same, but with each Adventure comes new cards. When populating the pool, you draw until there are six distinct sets of cards available. If dupes are drawn before that is achieved, they get stacked.
The Adventure, Danger, and Hazard cards also aggregate across the Adventures. So when it comes to the Adventure cards themselves, the ones you use to build your deck, there are more options as you go, but they are more and more diluted. To balance this a bit, all resources seem to be fairly equally represented across the Adventure cards and scale right along with the more threatening Dangers and Hazards you are to encounter with later Adventures.
Plus there’s the ever-present luck of the draw inherent in every deck-builder. Even the best built decks are subject to a poor shuffle!
Many of the cards feature stills from the Toy Story movies themselves, so it isn’t just a bunch of artist renditions – though those are present as well. The game wears its license well; something I’ve said about a fair many of The OP’s IP-driven titles like Die Hard: The Nakatomi Heist and their Talisman variants.
Here’s where I think Toy Story: Obstacles and Adventures shines: It is a fantastic first deck-builder for a newcomer to the mechanic for two reasons:
- The cooperative nature of the game means that you’re not having to figure out what might be your best purchase in a competitive setting or a vacuum.
- The limited resources and their singular roles in the game keep things super simple.
Its components are great, the aesthetics are spot-on…but this is its greatest strength, in my opinion.
What this doesn’t mean is that that game isn’t for veterans of the mechanic. As I said in the lede: The game is simple, but it has just the right amount of challenge. Once you get past the first Adventure or two, even seasoned deck-builders will find themselves having to manage resources well to prevent getting themselves or others Shelved (which advances the track and brings you one step closer to a loss).
My gaming group of male thirty-somethings thoroughly enjoys this game! The cooperative element means that when it isn’t your turn, you can still stay involved in decision making. It is light and engaging without being frustrating.
I compared it loosely to Xenoshyft. I love that cooperative deck-builder, but it is stinkin‘ hard. Toy Story: Adventures and Obstacles is a simplified version of a game of the same type that my gaming group will actually play with me. That’s a categorical win.
Toy Story: Adventures and Obstacles gets high marks across the board for what it is: An introductory level deck-builder. The challenge it provides perfectly balances interest with accessibility; serving as an on-boarding point for new gamers and a fine experience for veterans.
You can snag a copy of the game for yourself from Amazon here for about $45. When you consider that there are 6 separate Adventures and that each is easily replayed, that is a lot of game for the buck.
[Disclosure: Nerds on Earth was provided a copy of Toy Story: Obstacles and Adventures by The OP in exchange for an honest review.]