Published by: Formal Ferret Games (may be the coolest name for a gaming company)
# of Players: 1 to 5
The Networks is a card game that contains very few components besides cards. The actual cards are very good quality and have art that works well with the parody aspect of the game. Everything is laid out nicely and designed for easy use and understanding. The game comes with network player boards that are made out of your standard cardboard. The other cardboard component is the money. They are small bill shaped tokens that work nicely and do not take up a lot of space. The rule book is very deep and explains everything in detail. Sometimes it can be hard to find an answer but you will find it in the book. Each player also gets some wooden cubes, discs, and flat squares of their network color to use for tracking score and what season each show is on. The components work great for the game, but the gameplay is where The Networks shines brightly.
The Networks is a card game that has players acquiring cards that represent new shows, actors/actresses, and ads. The goal is to have the most viewers after 5 rounds of play. Each round is a new season for your network. During the start of each round, a number of shows, actors, ads, and network cards will be available to obtain during your turn. Show and actor cards will have a cost associated with them and may have a cost to maintain each season. Ads will give you money and will give you extra money when attached to a show for a season. Network cards are cards that may provide a one time bonus, an effect that last all game, or game ending bonus. Players will take turns performing one action. Actions are developing a show, sign star, land ad, take network card, attach star or ad, drop and budget. Each player has a network board that areas on both sides for cards to be placed. On the right hand side of the board, there are time slots of 8,9, and 10pm to schedule a show. The left side of the board contains a green room that stores your star and ad cards, an area to place shows that are on rerun, and an area for shows that are now in the archives.
When a player selects the develop a show action, they will purchase a show from the center area of table and attach it to one of the 3 time slots. Each show will have a time slot that it is best scheduled for and will earn you more viewers if placed in that slot. Also some shows will require stars, ads, or both before you can develop the show. If you have the required cards, you will attach the cards with the show right away. Some shows have ads or stars as optional to attach, you can attach them during the attach star or ad action. Those stars or ads will come from your green room. You will add stars and ads by performing the sign star or land ad actions. If there are no other actions you can take or you feel you are done for the round, you can drop and budget. This will then provide you with bonus money or viewers depending on how many have dropped before you. First person to drop will get the most money/viewers and the value will go down with each person that drops.
The Networks is a fun game to play and will make you laugh. I would find it hard to not smile while playing this game. I highly enjoyed all the parody of popular TV shows and stars. The gameplay is very smooth and easy to learn. There is a lot of depth of trying to maximize your viewer potential. I really like trying to match up the perfect star with a show in the correct time slot and then getting a huge ad on it. There is player interaction with the network cards and also choosing what cards to get on your turn. The game plays fairly quickly and will last for about an hour. I do wish there were more show cards because after a 2 or 3 plays you will have seen all of them. I found the theme to be fresh and the mechanics of the game will entertain new ones in the hobby as well as those who are die-hard gamers. Everyone I played with highly enjoyed the game and wanted to play again instantly. I would highly recommend anyone to purchase this game if you can. I have yet to hear anyone say they disliked it. The player count works great for families or small gatherings. If you want a game that is fun to play and will make you smile the whole game, The Networks should be on your short list.
+Parody of popular shows and stars
+Smooth, easy to learn gameplay
+Good amount of depth in strategy
+Unique theme that will entertain a wide audience
- Could use more show cards
-Some may find the art unappealing or amateurish
-Rule book seems intimidating due to all the detail