This is a preview of the card game Buy the Rights which is currently on Kickstarter. This preview is based on print and play components. The Kickstarter campaign ends on July 17th, 2015. If you are interested in Buy the Rights check out its’ Kickstarter page.
Regular readers of this blog will know that we are big fans of the game Apples to Apples. While I generally prefer games that rely on strategy, I have always had a soft spot for Apples to Apples since I have yet to play a game that wasn’t fun. Apples to Apples is the type of game that you play to have fun where the actual winner is not very important.
I was recently browsing new campaigns on Kickstarter when I ran into a game called Buy the Rights. I was immediately intrigued by the game since I really like Apples to Apples and Buy the Rights seemed to be the movie version of Apples to Apples. I decided that I had to try the game so I printed out the print and play components and gave the game a shot. While Buy the Rights is not as good as Apples to Apples (which I will get to later), it is still a good/great game that you should take notice of.
How to Play
Before beginning the game, players need to decide how many rounds they would like to play. Each player takes three cards from each category of cards (genre, hero descriptor, hero, and plot) to start the game.
Making and Pitching Movies
In each round one player will be the producer (judge) while the other players are screenwriters. Each screenwriter looks at the cards in their hand and tries to form an idea for a movie that will appeal to the producer. Each screenwriter has to choose one card from each category to form their movie idea. When every screenwriter has finished creating their movie, it is time to pitch the ideas to the producer. Each player pitches their idea by using the cards they chose for their movie. Players are allowed to add any additional information to their pitch which could include a synopsis of the plot or even a title for the movie.
For example the strangest/”greatest” movie that our group came up with was a musical (genre) about ex-military (hero descriptor) clowns (hero) discovering the existence of Bigfoot and trying to keep it hidden from government agents (plot).
Purchasing Movie Options
After all of the screenwriters have pitched their movie it is time for the producer to decide which movie they would like to invest in. Each round the producer is given $20 million that they must use on the movies that were pitched to them. The producer can decide to give out the money however they would like (in $5, $10, and $20 million increments). If they really like one movie they can give all of their money to that one player. If they like several movies they can split the money between several films.
After the producer has made their decision, all of the screenwriters take one card from each category and the cards that were used are discarded. The job of producer moves to the next player.
Winning the Game
After the predetermined number of rounds are completed, the game ends. Whoever has the most money, wins the game.
Check out the print and play section of the Kickstarter page in order to see some variant rules for the game created by the designer of the game.
Apples to Apples Meets Hollywood
Essentially Buy the Rights is Apples to Apples combined with pitching movies. I have to say that this is a great idea for a game. Fans of Apples to Apples should really enjoy the game (as long as they don’t hate movies) since it takes the basic mechanics from Apples to Apples and adds some new mechanics to the formula. People who really enjoy movies should enjoy the game since what movie fan doesn’t want to pitch their own movie ideas. Buy the Rights is the perfect example of a game that takes an established game idea and does a good job adding new elements to the game in order to change things up.
Just like Apples to Apples, Buy the Rights is very easy to play. The basic rules are only one page long and are a breeze to read through. I honestly think most people should fully understand the game within a couple minutes and if you have played Apples to Apples it will take even less time. With how simple the game is, I actually don’t really know why the recommended age is 12+. I don’t see why children younger than 12 wouldn’t be able to play the game. None of the cards in the print and play version of the game are particularly objectionable for children.
Buy the Rights is at its’ heart a party game. The game is more about having fun than actually declaring a winner. For the most part the winner is actually pretty irrelevant. If actually winning the game is important to you, Buy the Rights may not be the game for you. Serious gamers that are always focused on strategy and who wins, probably won’t be able to enjoy the game because they will be too focused on winning and won’t be able to enjoy the experience of Buy the Rights.
Being a party game I see Buy the Rights being the type of game that will work better with larger groups of players. The game works perfectly fine with four players but with more player there will be more pitches and more laughs.
While the basic gameplay of creating a pitch with the different cards is interesting, the game thrives when players put some effort into their movies. Delving into the movie with more details than are printed on the cards makes the movies come to life and make the game that much more interesting. Providing a clever/nice title also really adds to the game. While even non-creative people can play and enjoy the game, I think the game will thrive with a group of creative people who can really think on their toes.
I Wouldn’t Watch That
The biggest problem that I had with Buy the Rights is that unlike Apples to Apples, Buy the Rights occasionally has some issues with card selection. What I love about Apples to Apples is that for most rounds you will have a card that would at least somewhat work. That is not always the case in Buy the Rights.
I attribute this problem to the fact that you have to match four cards together for each round. The likelihood that you will always have four cards that will work together is unlikely. Your genre and plot cards are usually going to be the culprits for not being able to form a good movie pitch. For example it is really hard to match up the provided plots with the genre of a zombie movie. Unfortunately the game has too many occurrences of “Movies I Would Never Watch” which are just very boring movies or movie concepts that make no sense.
If you encounter this situation you might as well give up the round and just play all of the cards that you think you will have trouble playing in future rounds. In some rounds multiple people may have to do this which leads to some boring rounds where one film may have to be picked by default. My brother actually tried to pass off one of these rounds as a “legit” movie by calling his film “Five Minutes Til Sleep.” The title was actually quite appropriate since it just so happened that he used all of his most boring cards which combined together to make the blandest movie ever.
One thing that I think may fix this issue would be to allow players to have more cards from each category. With four or five cards from each category there is a higher likelihood that you can combine your cards together to form more interesting movie pitches.
While it is disappointing that sometimes you need to have a throwaway round, you do get the occasional movie idea that you actually would want to watch which really lifts up the gameplay experience. For example one of the films that we came up with that I would actually watch would be: A “documentary” about a superhero who finds out that his/her/their entire life has been a reality TV show.
That Seems Awfully Familiar
One part of the game that I have mixed feelings about are the plot cards. At least with the print and play components, most of the plot cards seem to be borrowed from famous movies or slightly altered. For example one of the plot cards is “Teaming up with cartoon characters to beat evil aliens in a basketball tournament.” This obviously is the plot to Space Jam even though some people may have purposely tried to forget that fact.
What I like about using plots from “famous” movies is that it allows players to make some creative twists to the story. It is kind of fun to use these familiar plots and twist them around with new heroes and genres. This actually makes some of the movies easier to pitch since your pitch could be a spoof of the original movie. For example as I mentioned before I ended up turning what I assume was meant to be the plot from ET and turned it into a musical featuring ex-military clowns finding Bigfoot. If you didn’t know by now, you will end up making some very strange films in Buy the Rights.
On the other hand I kind of wish the game had some more “original” plot cards. It would have been interesting to use new plots since you then wouldn’t have had to rely on altering your movie from the “source material”. With original plots you would have more flexibility of where you could take a movie pitch since you wouldn’t have to avoid being too similar to an actual movie.
What Is That?
Buy the Rights is a very simple game to play. The only “difficulty” issue I had with the game is that at times it requires the players to be somewhat familiar with the movie industry. Since the final game will have 100 different genre cards, some of the genres on the cards are quite specific. If you have a player that is not a big movie buff they may have some issues knowing what some of the genres are. This issue came up a couple times in the game I played. If you are playing the game where everyone knows what movie everyone is pitching this is not a big issue since a player can just ask the other players what a specific genre is without ruining a round. If you are playing the version of the game where all movie pitches are silent this is a much bigger problem since a player will be unable to ask what a genre is.
Our Own Game Variations
The print and play rules have several different variants to the gameplay but my group decided to try and come up with some of our own.
One of our groups’ favorite house rules in Apples to Apples is the random player. The random player is a random card from the deck that we add into the group of choices just to see what happens. This house rule generally works well since the random card actually gives some good choices from time to time and has actually been picked on occasion. Even when the random answer is totally ridiculous, it sometimes brings the biggest laughs of the entire game.
We ended up trying this house rule in Buy the Rights and while it doesn’t work nearly as well, it still comes up with some interesting choices from time to time. This method will regularly make some really stupid nonsensical movie ideas but it could lead to quite a few hilarious moments. Just think of the possibilities if the random player actually comes up with the best movie pitch.
The other variant our group came up with (did not test) was to preset the pitch. All four cards would be picked beforehand and all of the players would have to try their hardest to try and pitch this movie to the producer. Whoever the producer believed made the best pitch would win that round. This variant would change the game quite a bit but it may be an interesting idea to try out.
Print and Play
As I have already mentioned, I played the game using print and play components. The Kickstarter page for Buy the Rights has a PDF file of the rules and quite a few of the cards from the game. The print and play copy of the game comes with enough cards that you can play a pretty lengthy version of the game and get a good feeling for the game. If you are at all on the fence about Buy the Rights, I would highly recommend trying out the print and play version of the game. The print and play version is fourteen pages long but it does a great job showing you how the game plays. By the end of a game you should have a good idea of whether you would be interested in backing Buy the Rights.
Overall I would consider Buy the Rights to be a good/great game. While not as good as Apples to Apples, Buy the Rights should appeal to anyone who enjoys Apples to Apples. The game adds some good ideas to the party game formula and I think it will work really well in a party atmosphere. Fans of movies that are interested in pitching their own movies should also enjoy the game. If you aren’t a fan of Apples to Apples I am guessing that you probably won’t like the game but if the concept intrigues you, you may want to try out the print and play version of the game.
Buy the Rights is one of those Kickstarter games that I really want to get funded since just by using the test cards I can already tell that it is a good game. Unfortunately the game has a lofty goal of trying to raise at least $20,000 so I hope enough people find out about the game and decide to fund it. If you really like Apples to Apples and also movies I think you should strongly consider backing Buy the Rights.
If you are interested in Buy the Rights, the Kickstarter runs until July 17th, 2015. You can check out the Kickstarter page for more information.