CMON is embracing the chaotic fun of the Looney Tunes franchise with their brand new board game Looney Tunes Mayhem, and those who jump in will find the franchise’s trademark humor and zaniness intact. The game features lovable characters like Bugs Bunny, Tweety Bird, and Wile E. Coyote, and players will create a team of two to take on their opponent in an attempt to gain 5 Victory Points. It’s a simple premise but to win you’ll need to truly think through your turns, maximize your abilities, and utilize your teammates and their surroundings, and that welcome layer of depth is what makes Looney Tunes Mayhem game such an entertaining play.
As the name suggests, you’ll be commanding characters from the Looney Tunes franchise and using abilities that feel pulled right from the cartoons. The core set comes with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd, and Taz, and then there’s a separate character pack that features Tweety Bird, Sylvester, Wile E. Coyote, and Roadrunner. Each has access to two abilities, and the double-sided Toon Dashboards feature an alternate ability lineup. Your characters also have one special ability to activate, but how much you get out of those abilities 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 two dice, and then you add the numbers together and the player with the highest number gets to go first. You’ll then take those dice rolls and use them to activate your Tunes, and this is where the strategy kicks into gear. Each ability has two tiers, the Standard Effect, and the Special Effect. The Standard goes off whenever you place a die in its slot, so you’ll get that effect regardless, but if you rolled a number that meets or exceeds the number listed on the ability, you’ll activate the Special Ability tier; but there’s one more tier to consider.
When you roll your dice you will also roll the Mayhem die, which dictates the amount of damage attacks dish out, but they also can contain a star. If they do, then text with a star next to it on your abilities is activated that round, so any given turn there are three potential levels to unlock on your abilities, and it leads to careful consideration of things like who the best Toon is to lead the turn, how that sets up your other Toon later in the round, and how that sets you up for your opponent’s next turn. There’s already fun to be had just in these core options, but the game isn’t done giving you tactical opportunities.
Those special abilities can give you options like pulling your opponent to your space or pushing them into another space, as well as hitting with melee and ranged attacks, stunning them, and more. You can also heal your teammates, shield them from damage, or hit your opponents with Poison Tokens, though the most entertaining option for me was laying traps. Wile E. Coyote especially excels at this, as he can use his abilities to lay two Traps in a space and can hit a bevy of spaces with traps in just a few turns. If you can utilize Obstacle Tokens, Flee Tokens, and Poison Tokens as you lay traps, you will be a damage-dealing machine, though you can also utilize traps as other characters to great effect as well.
Working with Traps and obstacles really opened up the game for me, and it really took me the second time through to get a true feel of the chaos that can ensue during a game. That’s because the recommended starting group didn’t really embrace traps or obstacles, but it did get across the basic elements of gameplay, so mission accomplished. The game really shined when I started mixing other characters together, as some characters can avoid traps while others can manipulate and draw more Mayhem cards, which are also crucial to putting your plans into motion but are greatly coveted since you only get a few for the entire game.
Experimenting with all the Toons and finding a few that suit your play style is part of the fun, which is why it’s disappointing that you can only get the one upgrade pack. The Kickstarter featured eight more characters that were exclusive to backers, and some of my faves are in that assortment, including Foghorn Leghorn, Marvin The Martian, and Yosemite Sam. Having even more characters and ability lineups to use would have made the game even more replayable, but even as it stands, the eight-character lineup will be versatile enough on its own for many.
I didn’t even mention locations yet, which all have a unique activation when you land on them. Those locations are fun and effective and I enjoy how the 10-space grid keeps your characters close together and helps expedite interaction. Still, more options to choose from before every game would have been welcome. The goal is simple after all, as you are just trying to earn 5 Victory Points, so any chance to shake up how you get to that number would help keep games fresh.
When everything comes together, it’s delightful chaos, and can lead to nail-biting scenarios. At one point I was one Victory Point away from winning, and the opponent pulled out all the stops to keep me from victory. Even getting to the space I needed was challenging after obstacles were placed in my way, and then Mayhem cards and abilities kept trying to pull and push my Toons out of position. That back-and-forth was tense and quite fun, and made the win that much better. That doesn’t happen every game mind you, and that kind of experience will greatly depend on finding the right combination of Tunes and abilities that fit your play style.
Looney Tunes Mayhem lives up to its name and embraces the fun and over-the-top nature of the franchise, and you will likely be surprised at just how tactical it can be.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Published By: CMON
Designed By: Alexio Schneeberger
Graphic Design By: Max Duarte
Review copy provided by the publisher