Published on February 12th, 2014 | by Across the Board Games Staff2
Three Reviews of the My Little Pony CCG
Friendship is Magic the Gathering
Three of our authors had a chance recently to play the new My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Collectible Card Game. We wanted to give a more thorough view of the game, and in that spirit Gregg played the game with his five year old niece so that we could have an idea of what a young girl’s thoughts on the game are.
“Just another in a series of under-whelming franchise cash grabs. Generic and sterile.” -Luke
When I first heard about a My Little Pony CCG I was immediately dubious. “Obviously this is Hasbro trying to tie the success of their Pony license into something they think Bronies will buy.” After being disenchanted by almost every licensed video game property since the E.T. Atari game, I didn’t trust MLP:FiM:CCG to give much in the way of deep gameplay. Either the game would be too technical for the obviously simplistic source material or the game would be too basic to hold the interests of two twenty-somethings playing the game. I found out that the game met somewhere in the mediocre middle.
The My Little Pony CCG does do some things right. Seeing as how the show is based on a group of friends solving problems together in a non-violent manner, the fact that MLP didn’t go the route of making the mane characters fight dragons and monsters was a nice touch. Instead, each player brings a small deck of problems that either player can resolve and players get points for doing so. To create conflict, you can put complications on other player’s problem cards that they have to deal with before they are able to resolve their problems. So, from a narrative standpoint the game mostly works. You put ponies out, you send them to fix problems, things escalate, then get resolved and everyone goes home, rinse and repeat.
There were a lot of things I wish would have been done differently, changes that are both large scale and small scale. First of all, I think the idea of making a CCG out of the property is such a blatant money grab from the company that owns Wizards of the Coast that I think Hasbro should really be ashamed of themselves. I won’t harp on this much more, but a competitive CCG is emphatically not the game format I would have chosen for a show sub-titled “Friendship is Magic” and that is distinctly mellow. A cooperative adventure game (a la Arkham Horror or Fortune and Glory) would have been a much better fit for the license.
Additionally, the variety in the cards left a lot to be desired. We were only playing with starter decks, but the majority of our complication cards were the same kind of creature with a different color descriptor. Why do I want to get a card called Blue Parasprite as opposed to Yellow Parasprite? Isn’t the show full of creatures and magic and things, why not grab some of that? The art on the pony cards was equally uninspiring- even the foil Mane Character card was static and uninspiring. Speaking of which, why did they limit themselves to art that was screen grabbed from the show? There is a whole horde of fan art out there for My Little Pony, at least 20% of Deviant Art is My Little Pony art now and some of it is even good! Instead, the creators went the safe and boring route, which is unfortunate.
At the end of the day, MLP:FiM:CCG is another blip in the history of collectible card games that will be forgotten to the annals of nerd history, and I can’t say that I’ll miss it.
“Fun and engaging for my five year old niece. Requires some reading skill.” -Gregg
Toad & Tricycle got in an order of MLP:FiM, so I ran down and bought a pair of the Twilight Sparkle and Applejack starter decks. The following day, I got my five year old niece Lydia “Lidz” to sit down and learn how to play. I tried the game out with my friend Tom before, so I had a good handle on the game and I went into full demo mode. Little bit of bragging here, but it was incredibly nice to have my five-year-old niece able to read every word on the place mat (she had trouble with “phase” until she was corrected) and cards, and she could do the basic math that the game requires.
For the core game, she could recognize timing rules, when certain things could be played, and where they should be played. As for overall meta game strategy and future planning, she did about the same as most people I’ve done a demo for, who’ve never played a TCG/CCG in their life. It was also entertaining that she did understand some of the concepts such as the importance of reading the Problem Cards, and knowing which mix of Friends where needed to advance and deal with the Problems. Half of the demo time was eaten up by her talking about all the characters, and remarking about the existence of duplicate cards (“How can there be two Granny Smiths?”), and giving an incredibly narrative explanation of what each card was doing.
As long as you have a child who has decent reading comprehension, and is able to do basic math, this is probably an exciting narrative game for the young fans of the franchise, rather than a exercise in resource management and worker placement.
“Non-violent game scenarios are great! I wish there had been more great ideas in this game.” -Nicole
Here are the opinions that came to mind, from my point of view after having played two starting MLP:CCG decks against each other:
-Like all licensed CCGs that aren’t Magic the Gathering, this one will surely go by the wayside. Not even all the combined purchasing power of Bronies would keep this collectible ship afloat. Collect the game while you can and keep enough to play with friends if you like it.
-Yes, we need more games that encourage non-violent problem solving. I get that some people don’t want to play as Elder Gods, beefcake barbarians and gritty stoic warlords. I think it’s great to see a game that swaps those things for a non-violent, light-hearted game about ponies solving kid problems, like eating too much pie.
-The show has done wonders for blurring gender lines and I expect that the card game can help do the same. Bringing more young girls into games will help break the male-dominated hobby and open the way to make nerd culture more comfortable for women.
– I think that the game would work better in a cooperative LCG format rather than a CCG setup. There should be a collaborative/shared victory when a problem is defeated, which would be more true to the show. If fully cooperative games don’t sell enough or something, you could have players who “helped more” during conflicts could receive bonus points and make the game semi-coop.
-The cards and rulebook are littered with spelling errors which goes to show how much care and time the creators put into making this card game.
-The game mats are folded, glossy paper that tear easily and never lay flat. To be fair, these are about as bad as the playmats in a starter deck of Magic cards, which are equally low-quality. There isn’t even a designated place to put all of your tokens on the board, which is gigantic and full of empty space. The board designers seem like they were never asked to play the game.
-It’s still better than just making another damn Monopoly re-skin. Hopefully in the future more licensed games will at least be made by companies that have already proven their worth. This could have been an awesome Cryptozoic game!