Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Card Game is one of the most loyal licensed board games I’ve ever played and by loyal, I mean – it truly feels like ‘Scott Pilgrim’.
For those who don’t know, Scott Pilgrim is a graphic novel series which see’s Scott combine retro video game themed adventures and teen awkwardness to win the heart of his crush, Ramona. It’s a very cool theme and one of the most impressive aspects of this card game is the truly awesome artwork which is directly lifted from the graphic novels and printed on the stunning double-sided cards. These cards which you’ll be collecting as you play are really pleasant things to hold in your hand (especially if you are a fan of the series).
The game knows full well it’s a ‘pretty little card game’ and makes a strong first impression - if you can get over the lack of components in the box. The cards are so pretty that the game even actively encourages players to slot cards together resembling a series of comic book panels that can be used to create your own stories and adventures as you play.
Speaking of cards, it should probably be highlighted that Scott Pilgrim is a competitive deckbuilding game for 1-4 players who will start the game with a hand of basic cards and attempt to create as efficient a deck as possible made up of deadly fighting combos and resources such as Romance, Work and Music that most benefit their chosen character.
At the beginning of the game players will choose from a variety of playable characters which make up Scott Pilgrim’s closest friends and allies. Your goal, like in the graphic novels, is to defeat the Evil Exes of Scott’s new girlfriend Ramona. These Exes act as typical video game themed boss fights and while a player can take on an Ex at anytime – it is essential to level up your character and improve your hand of cards so that you can pull off some off your characters most impressive combos during the combat phases of the game.
One of the most impressive aspects of Scott Pilgrim is that each character feels like their comic book persona with Scott’s bandmates being able to focus on their musical prowess whilst Ramona has an emphasis on working hard and romance. Thematically the cards combine in fun ways that make sense; and it’s cool when you can combine them to defeat an evil landlord to secure an average apartment or pull off an epic gig with your band to impress your mates.
One of the reasons that every character feels so different is due to the excellent implementation of the ‘drama’ mechanic. The idea behind ‘drama’ is that as things happen certain actions can create drama cards which are added to your deck. So, if you gain a new friend or get in a relationship it’s very likely you’ll gain drama (which thematically is hilarious to think about!)
Depending on which character you are playing as you may wish to have more drama. For example, Scott’s roommate Wallace thrives on drama and as a result he gets a bunch of perks that boost his deck when there’s a lot of drama on the board because he’s a gossip. Ramona Flowers on the other hand is pretty chilled and if you want to optimise her deck you need to get rid of all your drama cards which take up precious space in your deck of kickass combos. It’s an imaginative and unique mechanic which is one of the very best ‘waste’ cards we’ve seen in a deck builder acting as the perfect balance of theme and mechanic.
These drama cards can also be used to hinder other players (which thematically makes sense) as during some combat challenges other players may get the chance to add in drama cards from their deck creating a harder challenge for their opponents.
It’s some much needed player interaction in a game where you’ll be rarely talking with your fellow players since for most of the game you’re very much in your own bubble – refining your systems, chaining as many cards as possible to gain extra actions and hoping you are able to grind your deck to victory before your opponents.
However, Scott Pilgrim in it’s current form, is a bit broken. During our very first game we discovered that there was a misprint on one of our cards which did not show the reward for overcoming a specific challenge – in this case defeating a giant robot. Naturally we were confused and upon googling the problem we discovered a whole series of posts on Board Game Geek detailing that in fact, over 10 cards in this game feature mis-prints and are fundamentally broken. Unfortunately, this completely kills the game – board games are not cheap products to buy (Scott Pilgrim is a £45 game) and the fact that over 10 cards in the box are broken means that we simply can’t recommend this game based on the initial first edition which is currently for sale.
And it’s a real shame because a good licensed board game is a rare thing. I honestly think you’d struggle to find one as thematically rich and loyal as Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Card Game; but sadly, it has some major issues. For one it just shouldn’t be as complicated as it since the people who are going to enjoy this game the most are Scott Pilgrim fans and if they’re new to deck builders they are going to have a bit of a nightmare learning how to play.
I’m probably the ideal player for this game as I love the series and really enjoy deckbuilding games; yet even I wasn’t blown away. Thematically it’s amazing but the gameplay is just overwhelming and there is far too much going on that slows down player turns and makes a 4 - player game a real chore to get through. But there’s also moments of real creativity such as the drama cards and the excellent implementation of the video game combos.
What is your priority when it comes to a board game? For some it’s a rich theme and world that truly immerses players enriched by actions that thematically make sense. Others will prioritise deep gameplay mechanics with meaningful strategic choices as the bread and butter of their table top experiences.
Scott Pilgrim is a really cool thing to own that is incredibly faithful to its license; but I would never suggest playing it with a group due to it being awkward to teach and the risk that we will draw cards which are broken – and as a result, I just can’t recommend it.