In my “normal” life, I am a math teacher at an all girls’ school. And in my dreams, I have always thought that I would be the “board game teacher”. My classroom would be filled with shelves of board games, and every single moment of free time the students had, they would rush into my room and play games. And I would stand leaning against the wall, smiling, and the camera would zoom in, go past my face, out the window, and up into the sky and focus on the sun as two birds flew by.
Now that dream hasn’t really come true. Sure, I’ve had the pleasure of running several board game design classes that have involved some of the awesome people in our industry, and I’m definitely known as a board game player, but students seeking me out to play games is rare. It’s mostly lack of time, but honestly, I think that many of the students still see board games as something you’re forced to play on those random game nights their mom decides to host every couple of months for “family bonding”.
So when the opportunity does present itself for games at school, I generally overthink what we should play. It needs to be pretty simple, but challenging enough to hold their interest. It can’t be super long and there can’t be a lot of downtime. In the past Werewords has gone well, and Jungle Speed was a hit several years ago. But the game that’s gotten the most attention these days is Super Mega Lucky Box.
A Twist on a Classic
To be honest, SMLB isn’t an easy sell at first.
“Hey, it’s like Bingo, but more fun!”
“You mean that game my grandma takes way too seriously that got her kicked out of three different churches?”
As the players get their little card player board thingies, the questions continue.
“What are these weird symbols?”
“Why aren’t all the numbers on this one?”
“Can we play something else?”
The moon and lightning bolt pieces don’t make things much easier, but eventually we’re able to get to a rules explanation. And again, it’s not an easy sell…
“Wait, what does the moon mean?”
“So do I mark all of the numbers or just one of them?”
“I don’t get the stars scoring. Can you explain it again?”
“Can we play something else?”
As the game gets going, the players are initially hesitant. They don’t really see any sort of strategy, so they begin to mark off numbers on their cards at random. They’re still a little skeptical at this point, but they usually are into the fact that you actually get to write on the playing cards.
Maybe a Slow Start
The first round of SMLB can be somewhat uneventful, as it’s unlikely that anyone has finished one of their cards yet. So, once again, the questions come.
“So is that it? Wait, another round? What does that mean?”
“Did I get stars or did I not get stars?”
“Wait, I have to keep track of ANOTHER card?”
“Can we play something else?”
It’s usually in the middle of the second round that one of the players starts to get the hang of what’s going on. They combo together two nice moves, using a bonus from one column or row to finish another column or row, getting yet another bonus. They might even use one of their lightning bolts to change the number that they get to mark on the card. And that’s when things get more interesting.
“Whoa, how did you do that?”
“Wait, these lightning bolts mean I can change the numbers?” (Keep in mind this was likely explained at least five times.)
“Hmm, that’s kinda interesting.”
Things Start to Ramp Up
As players finish more columns and rows, they each start to develop a little plan, and you can hear the excitement in their voices when that plan pays off. Or, the disappointment when that number they need just doesn’t want to show up.
“Come on, I need a 7. Please draw a 7. Yes!”
“No, not another 4! I don’t have any of those! Ugh!”
By the fourth round, pretty much everyone knows what’s going on and is fully engaged in the game. They understand that they have a limited number of turns to get anything done, so they start planning things out. They figure out when they need to spend their lightning bolts and when to hold back. They start chaining together bonuses so that they are crossing off four numbers at a time. They’re looking at everyone’s moons, hoping that they don’t end up with the fewest and lose some points. They’re finishing cards left and right. When you finally get to the final scoring round, there’s tons of chatter around the table.
“Yes! I finished four cards!”
“Ha! I got one more moon than you! I get the bonus points!”
And, of course, that one kid that didn’t really pay attention during the explanation…
“Wait, the lightning bolts aren’t worth anything? I was saving them all up!”
But there’s one comment that I’ve heard every time we’ve played, and it’s the most treasured of them all….
“Hey, can we play again?”
Plenty of Fun in a Little Package
There’s honestly not a lot to Super Mega Lucky Box, but it’s the simplicity that makes it great. While the rules might take a little while to explain, they’re not overly complicated and could be understood by the most novice gamers. Scoring can be a little tricky, especially with the star bonuses, but a little guidance from a veteran player usually clears everything up.
One of the main things I love about the game is that it encourages social interaction. While board gaming is generally a social experience, more complex games can lead to lots of quiet thinking in between turns. There’s also not a lot of thinking required for this game – you see the number, you mark out that number on one of your cards. A basic turn can take about 10 seconds, and everyone can talk while those who get bonuses finish up their turns, which are still only about 30 seconds long.
I think Super Mega Lucky Box is a great game to play at schools, due to its simplicity and quick playtime. I also think it would be great at family reunions or holiday gatherings. You get a handful of people, sit down and play, and others will soon want to join. While the game plays up to 6 players, I’m sure you could easily add in more by just buying another copy of the game.
For me as a gamer, this is one that I’ll keep on my shelf forever and break out about twice a year for some quick fun with the right group of people. For more casual gamers, this could be an even more important part of your collection, as you could likely bring it out with anyone you play with.
Just make sure grandma doesn’t get too aggressive.
You can find Super Mega Lucky Box at your local game store or online through Amazon today.
- Builds off of Bingo, which most people will know
- By the second round, everyone has the hang of it
- Very quick, good for multiple plays
- Supports up to 12 players with 2 copies
- Scoring can be a bit tough to understand for newer gamers
- Not the deepest experience in the world
- Definitely relies on a bit of luck