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Megastar Card Game Review and Instructions

How to Play | Review | Final Verdict | Comments

How to Play

Objective

At the end of the game you want to earn the most points by having the most valuable band cards in your hand.

Setup

Since the setup is slightly different based on how many players there are in the game, refer to this table for specifics based on the number of players playing:

  • 2 Players:
    • Use only five different bands.
    • Remove fifteen cards from the band deck without any of the players seeing the cards.
  • 3 Players:
    • Use only six different bands.
    • Remove ten cards from the band deck without any of the players seeing the cards.
  • 4 Players:
    • Use all of the bands.
    • Remove five cards from the band deck without any of the players seeing the cards.
  • 5 Players:
    • Use all of the bands.
    • Remove three cards from the band deck without any of the players seeing the cards.

In the two and three player versions of the game, some of the bands are removed from the game. For the bands that are removed from the game, any card from the corresponding bands are removed from the band deck before any other cards are taken out of the deck.

The players shuffle all of the cards in the hit parade deck. The cards are revealed and placed in a vertical row one card at a time. This becomes the starting hit parade.

Players shuffle the band deck and reveal the top eleven cards and place the cards face up to the right of the corresponding card in the hit parade.

Megastar Card Setup
The game has been set up for the first round. The hit parade cards are shuffled and placed in a vertical line. Eleven band cards are turned face up and are placed to the right of the hit parade cards.

Each player is dealt five cards. Before the first round begins, each player must choose which card they would like to play in the first round. That card is placed face down in front of them.

Whoever has the largest CD collection becomes the first player.

A Player’s Turn

On a player’s turn they take four actions in the following order (all steps must be taken):

  1. Reveal the card played face down in front of you. This card is placed on the left side of the hit parade next to its’ matching colored card.
  2. Take one of the cards from the right side of the hit parade. A player may take a card of any color if there is a card of that color on the right side of the game board.
  3. Draw one card from the draw deck.
  4. Place the card that you are going to play at the beginning of your next turn face down.

After you have placed your card face down, play passes to the next player in a clockwise fashion. Based on how the game is set up, the number of cards in your hand should increase by one every round. This is a good way to determine if you took all of the required steps in a round.

Countdown

Play continues in the normal fashion until one of the two countdown parameters are met. If either of these two conditions are met a countdown begins:

  • There are three cards of the same color on the left side of the game board.
  • When a player reaches step two and there are no cards on the right side of the board to select from.
Countdown in Megastar
A countdown has begun because the third black card was played to the left side of the hit parade. Normal play stops immediately as the countdown is performed.

When a countdown begins, the cards in the hit parade will switch places. Starting with the band at the top of the hit parade, each band will move up one place for each card placed to the left of the band’s card. Since the band in first can’t go past the first space, any cards played for that band will not have an effect. Every other band will move up the number of spaces based on the cards played. If a band reaches the top spot their movement stops even if they haven’t used all of their cards. After a band has been moved in the rankings, the cards played to the left for that band are moved to the right side next to the band of the same color.

Results of countdown in Megastar
Here is what the hit parade looks like after the countdown was completed. The two cards played to the green band have no effect. The one card played to the yellow and red band move both of them up one space. The black band moves up three spaces to the top spot. The purple band moves up two spaces and the pink band moves up one.

Once the countdown is complete, gameplay resumes where it left off with the current player choosing a card to take from the right side of the game board..

End Of Game

The game ends when the last card is taken from the draw deck. That player finishes their turn. All of the players then play the last card they played face down. The players don’t draw or play any cards face down during this turn. If a countdown occurs before all of the players have played their last face down card, the countdown is performed. The remaining players then play their card. Once everyone has played their last face down card, a final countdown is performed and all of the bands are moved to their final positions.

At this point scoring takes place. Each player should have 16 cards in their hand. Each card in a player’s hand is worth points based on where the corresponding band is in the current rankings. Players score points for each card based on the following table:

  • 1st Position: 5 points per card
  • 2nd Position: 4 points per card
  • 3rd Position: 3 points per card
  • 4th Position: 2 points per card
  • 5th Position: 1 point per card
  • 6th and 7th Position: 0 points per card
Scoring in Megastar
This picture shows two players’ final hand with the final hit parade in the middle. The left player would receive the following number of points: black-10 points, yellow-12 points, purple-6 points, red-4 points, and pink-3 points. The left player would score 35 points. The right player would score: black-20 points, yellow-8 points, purple-12 points, and pink-2 points. The right player would win with 42 points.

Player tally up their total points and whoever has the most wins the game. If there is a tie, whoever has the most cards of the band in the first position breaks the tie. If there is still a tie, whoever has the most cards in the second position breaks the tie and so on.

Review

You are in charge of a radio station. Your task is to try and predict what bands will be popular in order to bring fame and profit to your radio station. You alone don’t get to decide which bands will become popular though. Your listeners, your competing radio stations and even your bosses will have a say in what bands will reach the top of the charts. Will you be successful in finding the most popular bands?

When I found Megastar at a clearance sale I didn’t know what to think. The theme didn’t appeal that much to me since I am not a huge music fan and I have never dreamed of running a radio station. I have liked other Mayfair games in the past though and you can’t beat a game on clearance for less than $2 so I decided to pick up the game. After playing the game I have to say that while not the best game ever, I did have fun playing Megastar.

I Never Knew Running A Radio Station Could Be So Easy

What surprised me the most about Megastar was how easy the game was to play. Being a card game I wasn’t expecting the game to be that hard. Then I saw the 45 minute playing time of the box and I thought that the game could be more complicated than I was expecting. Usually card games are not that long unless they are complicated. It turns out that Megastar really isn’t that difficult to play.

Each turn involves four actions which are the same every single turn. You reveal your card for the round, take a card from the table, draw a card from the draw deck, and finally lay down a card that you will play the next turn. The game may take a couple turns to fully get the grasp of but afterwards you should breeze through your turns. Even the most complicated part of the game (the countdowns) are not that complicated after you get used to them. While it is a pain to move all of the cards around, the process is pretty simple to figure out. This makes me question where the 45 minute game length on the box comes from. In the first game I played it probably took at max 30 minutes and that included explaining the rules of the game. After a couple plays I could see the game taking closer to 15-20 minutes.

Due to the simplicity and the quick play time, I think Megastar could work really well as a filler game. The game is small and portable so it can easily be brought to a game night and be played between two longer games.

There’s Got To Be Some Strategy In Here

I like a lot about Megastar. The game was on the way to becoming a good to great game until the one main problem with the game surfaced. Maybe it was just me but I feel that there really isn’t much strategy to the game. This seems hard to believe since you make plenty of decisions in the game and your decisions do have an impact on the game. The game lacks a definite strategy which will help you win the game though. Maybe better strategies will form after multiple games but I just don’t think there is much strategy in the game. Megastar just seems like the type of game that you just play and someone ends up winning. I think this is due to bands quickly switching places and no individual player having a huge impact on the game.

The one thing that really surprised me about Megastar is how quickly bands can move up and down the charts. For example in one countdown the top band moved from the first position all of the way to the last position. Since the top band can’t move up in a countdown, players can’t do anything to prevent this from happening. It is kind of hard to form a strategy when things can change that quickly.

These quick changes prevent you from really developing much of a strategy until the final rounds. Developing a strategy before that is kind of pointless since you have no idea how things will turn out at the end of the game. The early rounds kind of feel like you are just guessing at which bands will be in a good position at the end of the game. By the time when you can actually start to grasp which bands will do well, it is too late to make any big changes to your strategy.

The other thing that I feel prevents a lot of strategy in the game is the fact that no individual player can have a big impact on the game unless another player ends up joining them in a particular action. This may not be the case in the two and three player games, but in a four player game you only have one fourth of the power in deciding which bands go up and down. If none of the other players are collecting your color you are doomed to failure since you will never have enough influence to get your bands to the top of the charts.

Thus in order to do well in the game you are very reliant on what the other players end up doing. In the game I played two players ended up going for the same color so they indirectly ended up helping each other out. Not surprisingly those two players placed first and second while the two players who didn’t get help from another player lost by quite a bit. It is kind of a weird dynamic in the game where you don’t want to help the other players but at the same time you need to work together in order to both benefit.

The only real strategies in the game involve how you want to distribute the cards in your hand and when to time your attempt to raise your band to the top of the rankings.

As far as card distribution is concerned, you pretty much have two choices. You can either evenly spread out your cards between all of the colors or you could end up focusing on two or three colors. Spreading out your cards amongst all of the colors is the low risk strategy. You will most likely never be last but you probably will rarely ever win. You are better off with the all in strategy of picking two main colors and then maybe a third secondary color. The only problem with this strategy is that you need to time your band movement perfectly and you need another player trying to go for the same color as you are.

The most strategic decision in the game is timing. Timing when to get your band to the top of the charts is crucial to victory. If you don’t time your move correctly you will lose the game. If you make your move too early your band will likely fall back before the game ends. If you make your move too late you won’t have enough time to get your band up to the top. For most of the game you want to try to keep your band towards the middle of the pack (preferably 3rd or 4th place). When you reach the last couple of rounds you need to try moving up the band as far as you can.

The problem is that these strategic decisions rely on luck. No matter what you decide to do, you opponent’s decisions will have a great impact on how successful you are. This makes the game a lot less strategic than you would hope.

Despite not being as strategic as I was hoping, I still had fun playing Megastar. In order to enjoy the game you just have to adjust your expectations. You need to accept that there is no true strategy that will help you win the game. All you can do is make some moves and hope that the chips fall your way. If you are the type of gamer that needs a game to have straight forward paths to victory, I think you may get frustrated with Megastar.

Should I Keep It Or Play It?

While playing the game, one of the most interesting decisions is deciding whether you want to keep a card of one of the bands that you are collecting or do you want to play the card in order to help the band move up in the rankings. This is an interesting dilemma because playing a card will move the card up a spot which will give you more points per card but you will also have one less of that card.

Early in the game this is not a big issue since you are usually better off keeping the cards since position is not important until the final rounds. If your band is currently in first place there is no point playing the card since you will just waste it.

This decision gets really interesting at the end of the game though. These decisions actually make the difference between winning or losing. In the late game you actually have to weigh what decision will benefit you the most. If the band is at the back of the pack you are best off playing cards in order to raise their ranking since you may be giving up zero, one or two points and in exchange you will receive one point for all of the cards you own of that band. If you own a lot of that color you will make a lot of points.

The decision is more complicated if your band is towards the top of the charts though. If your band is currently in second place you will have to sacrifice four points in order to move the band up one spot to get five points per card. In order to breakeven you will need to have at least four other cards of the same color. If you don’t have that many cards of the color you may not want to waste the cards moving the band up in the rankings. You might also take the loss of points to prevent losing more points. Since cards can switch positions easily, you need to keep your band high enough in the charts that it avoids hitting the free fall and being sent to the bottom of the charts.

Components

Overall I liked the components of Megastar.

I liked the cards for their quality and artwork. The cards are pretty thick and well made so they should last through extended play. I found the artwork to be well done and people interested in the theme of the game should enjoy the artwork quite a bit. I only have two complaints with the cards.

First I think the cards for the hit parade should have been more distinctive from the band cards. While there are differences between the two types of cards, you can mix up the two cards if you are not careful. The game should have made the hit parade cards stand out more by either using a symbol to indicate that it was a hit parade card or using a different border color in order to make them easier to distinguish.

The second complaint with the cards is kind of minor. While the artwork is well done, it does get a little repetitive. Every single band card looks like every other band card of the same type. It would have been kind of nice if there were a couple different pictures for each band which would have cut down on some of the repetitiveness.

My only other complaint with the components has more to do with the gameplay itself than the components. Even though I can’t think of a way that it could have been avoided, it is quite annoying having to move all of the cards around whenever a new countdown is performed. In some countdowns a lot of cards have to be moved around. With so many cards being moved around there are opportunities for cards to be messed up.

Final Verdict

Overall I would consider Megastar to be an average filler card game. I liked a lot of things about the game including the theme and the easy to understand gameplay. The mechanics lead to an overall fun game. It could have been a great game except that at times it feels like there is no definite strategy to win the game. You pretty much just need to guess which bands will do well and hope other players are going after the same bands as you are.

If you are the type of gamer that likes games with clear strategies for victory, you probably won’t like Megastar. If you are looking for a solid filler game and like the theme though you will probably enjoy Megastar. At this time the game is also quite cheap online which means that you won’t have to take that big of risk on the game.

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