While walking on the beach, you and your friends discover a rusty old lamp washed up on shore. When you attempt to polish it a genie bursts forth in a cloud of smoke (who didn’t see that coming?). He demands to know who released him and who is entitled to three wishes. Immediately the arguing starts as to who gets the wishes. Is it the one who first spotted the lamp, the person who picked it up, or maybe it was the one who rubbed it releasing the genie. Now, logically what should be done in this situation (or really any wish-granting scenario) is to wish for unlimited wishes. That’s just good business. However in 3 Wishes by Chris Castagnetto and Passport Game Studios, 3-5 players will have to come up with a solution to this quandary.
To solve this standoff everyone is going to have to come up with a set of wishes and the person with the best three will win the right to make their wishes to the genie.
The entire game is made up of 18 Wish cards, of which, you’ll only use a portion, depending on the number of players. There are cards marked for four or five players that get removed with fewer people playing. Each of the cards represents a wish that you might make. They’re broken up into three different types; Superpowers (immortality, mind reading etc.), Gifts (Spaceship, Quantum Supercomputer, etc), and World Harmony (Universal Translator, Solve World Hunger, etc). Each card also has a numeric value between zero and four. The art on the cards is pretty playful and fun and the interpretations of what certain wishes would look like in reality is delightful.
At the start of the game the top card of the deck is removed from play and then each player is dealt three cards. They can look at one and then they place all their cards face down in front of them. Two cards are placed face down in the middle of the table. On a turn players take two actions. They can Peek, looking at one card in front of any player or the centre of the table. They can switch the position of any two cards. They can shuffle their three cards and then look at one of them, before placing the cards facedown in front again. Finally, players can declare the end of the game. This will be their only action for the round and the game ends immediately.
Now, the interesting trick about 3 Wishes is that to be eligible to win the game you need to have one of all of the different wish types. If your wishes contain one each of World Harmony, Gifts, and Superpowers then you total up their numeric value on the cards and that’s your score. You’re constantly swapping cards around the table and trying to figure out which wishes you actually have. The person with the highest total wins the game. If you end up without a royal sampler then you’re out of the running.
There are a few special cards that spice up the action as well. The Cornucopia and Cold Fusion cards double your score at the end of the game, assuming you’ve managed to get the three different types. If you manage to get both of the doubling cards and you have a complete set you automatically win regardless of scores. Finally there is the Time Travel card. It’s kind of like an Old Maid that everyone is trying to get rid of. If you end the game with that in hand you lose automatically.
3 Wishes is rated at about five minutes and I’d say that’s somewhat accurate. The rounds are pretty quick, but they’ve included little wooden markers if you want to play multiple rounds. It feels a bit like Love Letter with the small deck of cards, quick play time, and simple rule set. I think this is a game that, once you get the hang of it, you’ll throw it in a bag and pull out at restaurants, pubs, lunchrooms, or really anywhere you’re killing time. The real fun is assessing the wishes everyone has collected by the end of the game. If you’re looking for something to fill that quick 5-10 gaming hole in your life, give 3 Wishes a try.