3 Wishes Review – Attack of the Not-So-Nice-But-Not-Too-Evil Genie
For those who haven’t seen, I did a breakdown of my gaming group’s game collection. The full analysis isn’t live yet, but the list of our games is for your perusal. You can view the full list here, and if you have any requests for reviews please feel free to say or drop me a message.
There are around 190 games on the list (owned by five of us, in three collections), and you can also have a look at what we have backed on Kickstarter.
What this means though is there are a load of small games on the list that don’t get a lot of coverage because we don’t play them very often. Today, I thought I would make a dent in that list by sequentially working my way through it. Today, we are going to start with a 3 Wishes review.
The Premise of 3 Wishes
So, I actually purchased 3 Wishes because I was looking for a game that was under £10 and it was recommended in the UK gaming magazine Tabletop Gaming. The premise sounds interesting – it is a game for 3 to 5 players designed by Chris Castagnetto, with art by Magdalena Markowska. It is also known under the alternative name of Tricky Wishes and has won a couple of awards, including being given a Dice Tower seal of excellence.
Ultimately, at its core, it is a deduction/memory game with set collecting aspects at the same time.
The story goes that you rub a lamp and a genie appears. He will give three wishes to the person who manages to get the best hand at the end of the game. What is interesting, unlike most games that have a victory condition, the game only ends in 3 Wishes when someone declares the end of the game. This is a mechanic that I, for one, really like.
The game is, what can safely be called, a cute game, and Magdalena Markowska did a great job with the artwork.
So, How Do You Play 3 Wishes?
The rules to 3 Wishes are really simple. In fact, it can be really easily broken down into three stages, so let’s take a look more closely.
There are 18 cards in 3 Wishes, split into three different types of wishes. These are Superpower, Gifts, and World Harmony. Each one has 6 different cards that can be used throughout the game.
All the cards are played within a five-player game. In four-player and three-player games, different numbers of cards are removed from the deck.
One of the cards is randomly removed from the top of the deck, without revealing it to any player, and discarded. Two cards are then placed face down in the middle of the table, and each player then draws cards face down in front of them. The player may only look at one of them.
The goal of the game is to have one type of each wish in front of you – one Superpower (blue), one Gift (yellow), and one World Harmony wish (red). The problem is, you only know what one of your cards is. What is more, the cards also have points values associated with them, meaning even if you have the three, you may want a better three to win the game.
On your turn, you may only do one action from a set of four. You may –
- Peek – Which means you can look at any card in front of any player or in the center of the table.
- Switch – You can switch the positions of any two cards around the table. There is a variant that can be put into play where you can only swap cards if one is your own.
- Shuffle – This allows you to shuffle the three cards in front of you, put them back, and look at one of them.
- Declare the end of the game – So long as the game has had at least four rounds you can declare the end of the game. This is an action and cannot be done on your turn as a kind of bonus action. It counts dammit people!
End of Game Scoring:
Once you have declared the end of the game you all look at your cards, where one of two things happens.
Firstly, if you don’t have one of each type of wish then you instantly lose the game. Tough luck. Better luck next time.
Secondly, if you do have a set then you add up the points on the cards. The person with the most points wins.
There are also three specialty cards (pictured above) which have different effects at the end of the game. If you have Time Travel (Superhero) then you lose. Full stop.
If you have Cornucopia (Gift) or Cold Fusion (World Harmony) then you double your total score at the end. If you have both then you automatically win.
In hindsight, I don’t know what happens if you end up with Time Travel, Cornucopia, and Cold Fusion, as you would both win and lose the game instantaneously. This isn’t clarified in the rules, but the odds are low.
Thoughts on 3 Wishes
3 Wishes is, I think, the least complex game we own. Those really are all the rules, and the simplicity makes it a fantastic game for younger gamers. The gameplay is fast-paced, making it a good family game, and one that has some level of strategy. There is a level of mathematics behind the game that makes it interesting from an analysis perspective, and one I am sure gamers like myself would happily produce a series of spreadsheets to explore, but it doesn’t affect the game all that much.
On Board Game Geek, 3 Wishes is the only game I have ever come across with a complexity of 1/5. It has only been rated in complexity by 14 people, so it probably isn’t the most accurate representation; however, that doesn’t change the fact that 3 Wishes is a light game. It is an incredibly light game.
The lightness of 3 Wishes is probably the biggest downsides of the game. It is okay as a filler game; however, it is almost certainly not substantial enough to be a main event. Usually, you can imagine saying to someone “Oh yes, come round and I’ll introduce you to ‘game x’, where that could be anything from Twilight Imperium to Fluxx, but it is almost certainly the case that no one has ever said that about 3 Wishes. It just doesn’t have enough to it.
The way I see it – where 3 Wishes excels is not really as a game, but rather as a competitive puzzle. It is, at its heart, similar to famous brain teasers like Einstein’s Riddle or the Prisoner’s Dilemma, if not less time-consuming. It is about finding the right combination using logical deduction. This won’t limit its playability with younger audiences; however, it may lead older players to wonder why they aren’t spending their time with something meatier.
To really connect with 3 Wishes you have to really be one of two audiences. Either you need to take it all at face value, see it as a warm-up game, something lighter than Love Letter, that can get the logical juices flowing. Alternatively, you need to approach it like a logic puzzle. Turn it into a challenge to push your deduction skills. Make of it more than it actually is.
Absolutely certainly, I can say that 3 Wishes is a strong foundation; however, a bit more refinement could easily push it beyond that. It could push it into the realms of challenge and competition, not only for younger players, but also for older as well.
In other words, where this game is a positive one for more casual or younger gamers, it is also ripe for some house rules to increase the challenge for more serious gamers to enjoy.
Conclusion for 3 Wishes (TL;DR)
So, what is the conclusion for 3 Wishes? Is it a game I would recommend? Well, I think that comes down to what it is you want from a game. If you want something light to play with a younger audience and that you can use to help teach them logical deduction then yes, this is a good game for you.
If, however, you would rather something more meaty for you to sink your teeth into, and prefer more of a challenge, then this probably isn’t something to invest in.
Of course, it’s only £5.99, so if you want to gamble then maybe it is worth the punt. That’s up to you.
So, what do you think? Is 3 Wishes something you can get behind? Is it a game you think you would enjoy, or do you know the right people to play it with? Let me know in the comments below.