Designer: Chris Castagnetto Artist: Magdalena Markowska
Publisher: Strawberry Studio, Passport Game Studio 3-5 players 5 min. ages 8+ MSRP $10
A very particular genie is looking for just the right person worthy of three wishes. Anyone can make three greedy wishes. In order to gain this genie’s favor, you need to find the right kind of wishes to wish for! The first player to collect a wish for a superpower, a wish for world harmony and a wish for a gift will win the game.
3 Wishes is a micro game. It comes with 18 wish cards, 10 wooden cubes and player reference cards.
The wish cards come in three categories: superpowers like
world harmony like
and gifts like
An icon in the upper right corner of the card defines each type. The illustrations and title also make it clear into which category each wish fits. As you can see, the artwork by Magdalena Markowska is whimsical, charming and engaging. Each card also has a number value.
Wooden cubes are used to keep score if you want to play multiple games in a single sitting. Since the game is so quick, don’t be surprised if you end up using them!
3 Wishes is a deduction and bluffing game that plays in about 5 minutes.
The goal of the game is to declare the end of the game and have one of each type of wish card in front of you. If more than one player accomplishes this, the player with the highest total sum on all his or her wish cards is the winner.
Each player is dealt 3 cards face down to begin and may only look at one of them. Two cards are dealt to the center of the table. One is left out of the game.
On your turn you get to do two actions. You can do the same action twice or you can do two different actions.
You have three actions to choose from: peek, swap, and shuffle. You basically know the rules for each action just from their names.
Peek means you can peek at a face down card. This card could be your own, could be your opponent’s or could be one of the cards in the middle.
Swap means you can swap two face down cards. One of these cards could be your own but you could also swap cards between two opponents or with the cards in the middle.
Shuffle means you can pick up your three face down cards, mix them up and place them back on the table. After that, you can look at one.
You want to use these actions to manipulate the face down cards so that you end up with one of each type of wish in front of you.
You know one of your cards to begin the game. You can peek to learn the others but remember someone could swap and immediately take them away.
You might swap because you know you have two of the same type of wish and need to get rid of one.
You might shuffle because through others peeking and swapping, everyone knows your cards.
After everyone has had three turns, instead of taking a normal turn, you can declare the end of the game if you think you have three different wish cards in front of you. Everyone reveals their cards. If one player has three different wishes, he or she is the winner! If multiple players have 3 different wishes, add up the numbers on the wish cards and the highest total wins.
Two things stand out to me about 3 Wishes: the special wish cards and playing the players instead of the game.
There are three special wish cards that can have a tremendous impact on how each game goes.
Two special cards double your winning total. This means you stand a much better chance of winning if more than one person collects three different types of wishes. If by skill or by chance you manage to collect BOTH doubler cards, you automatically win if you have three different types of wishes at the end of the game.
The Time Travel card counts as a wish BUT if you end up with this card at the end of the game, you cannot win! Of course, this means the time travel card is a hot potato and no one wants to hold onto it. But it also means spotting someone trying actively to get rid of a certain card can be easy if you watch closely.
Collectively, the special cards add an extra level of focus to the game for each player. You need to pay attention not just to the icon on the wish cards but you need to watch out for the special wishes because they can really help or hurt your chances of winning.
I also really enjoy the fact that 3 Wishes introduces the concept of playing the players as much as the cards.
What does this mean? In many card games, especially classic gambling games like poker, doing well is determined as much by a player’s skill at reading the other player’s actions at the table as it is having an amazing hand. Playing the players means carefully observing what other players do on their turns because this gives you a wealth of information without ever seeing their cards. Through deduction and inference you can start to know what cards people want or dont want and this information can help you decide what actions to take and how to play.
Now you don’t have to play 3 Wishes with this level of forethought or attention, but I love that this element is always there and because the game rules are so simple, you have the time to pay attention and watch others closely.
Major Fun games often have a timeless or ageless quality to them. This is certainly true of 3 Wishes. It is a lovely quick game that will appeal to players of all ages and experience levels.
It’s tempting to say 3 Wishes shines the most because of its simplicity. But I think the beauty of 3 Wishes is in its elegance. 3 wishes, 3 types of wishes, 3 actions, declare the end any time after 3 turns. This elegance makes the game easy to learn but there are fun and challenging, even thoughtful moments packed into this tiny set of cards that everyone can enjoy. Thats a game whose gifts keep will keep on giving, with or without a magic lamp!