Review: The Networks

Review: The Networks

I can’t imagine what it must be like to run a TV studio these days. It used to be that you could take some great sitcom or drama, put it on whenever you want, and people might put off a wedding, funeral, or childbirth to see it.

Now, with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Crackle, CrunchyRoll, iTunes, DVR, and Billy Bob’s Bootleg TV Emporium, you can watch good TV – heck, great TV – anytime you want. In fact, some of our best shows are coming through these on-demand services. What’s a poor TV executive to do?

The Networks put out last year by Formal Ferret Games, would like to put you in the shoes of these forlorn millionaires. Over the course of 5 seasons, you will fight to hire actors, pick up advertisements, and launch new TV shows, all in the hopes of obtaining more viewers than 1 to 4 of your friends. All of this is done with a great sense of humor and an incredibly fitting art style.

Basic Cable

At the start of the game, each player is given 3 shows that are quite terrible. I mean, maybe you’re a fan of “Breath Mints Around the Globe”, but I don’t think I’ll be tuning in for long.

The “Emergency Broadcast Test Hour” didn’t even make it past the pilot. Each round, new TV pilots are made available for players to add to their TV lineup. New ads and actors can also be acquired, and these will often be needed to launch a new pilot into the schedule.

On their turns, players will be working to enhance the number of viewers their lineup provides, bringing in new hit shows to replace older shows that are no longer bringing in the numbers they had in former seasons. They must snatch up new cards before their opponents can while keeping an eye on their budget, ensuring that they have enough cash to pay for their shows at the end of the season.

Over the course of five seasons, you’ll be adding new shows, placing old ones into the reruns and archives, and taking other measures to maximize your viewers. Placing the right actors in the right shows in the right time slot will give you bonuses that make a huge difference.

The Networks actors

This game strikes a good mixture of fun and strategy without becoming overwhelming. There are several elements to consider on your turn, but it should never reach the point where you lose track of what’s going on. While there is a bit of luck involved based on what cards show up to draft, you will never feel as if you did not have complete control of your destiny.

If you lose, it’s probably because your timing was just a little off on some of the decisions, allowing your opponent to sweep in and mess up your plans.

Planning Your Time Slot

One issue that you need to consider for The Networks is time. You’re going to spend about 15 minutes setting the game up, followed by about 20-30 minutes of initial rules explanation. After that, expect your first few rounds to last about 20 minutes each, with things speeding up a little more in the later seasons.

Review: The Networks

If you have a few people that overthink each move or need constant reminders of the rules, you could be looking at a two hour game. That’s not a deal breaker necessarily, but it is something that you should think about before making a big purchase. Once everyone is familiar with the game, turns move a lot quicker in future game plays.

Overall, The Networks is a good ‘main course’ for your game night, and you could probably have some of your older kids jump in with you. It scales very well for different numbers of players and even includes rules for solo play. If this all sounds great to you, maybe it’s worth tuning in to this great game. Maybe soon you’ll stop watching so much of your favorite channel and you’ll be planning your own hit TV lineup instead!

You can find The Networks at your local game shop or can order a copy from Amazon today.

Highs

  • Hilarious TV tropes on every card
  • Game scales well from 1 to 5 players
  • Lots of options each season add to the strategy

Lows

  • First couple games will take some time
  • Might be tough for non-gamers to grasp