Today I am looking at a little card game called The Simpsons Slam Dunk which was released back in 2001. The game is basically the 1998 Reiner Knizia game It’s Mine! as the only difference is the Simpsons theme that was applied to the game. In the past we have looked at a lot of games designed by Reiner Knizia as the number of games that he has designed over the years is robust. What I generally enjoy about games designed by Mr. Knizia is that almost all of them do a good job fitting into an easily accessible framework allowing them to be played by almost anyone. As a fan of the Simpsons I was interested to see what the game would play like. The Simpsons Slam Dunk is a simple fun little speed card game that is deeper than most games in the genre even if it also relies on a lot of luck.
How to Play The Simpsons Slam Dunk
- Place the “Slam Dunk” board in the middle of the table so everyone can reach it.
- The oldest player will be the first dealer. They will shuffle the cards. The player to their right can cut the deck if they want to.
Playing the Game
The game is played over a number of hands with each hand consisting of rounds/offers. During each offer the current dealer will take all of the cards into their hand. The dealer will then reveal one card at a time placing them in a row in the middle of the table. All cards should be visible at the same time. The cards should be revealed in a way where all of the players can see the card at the same time. The dealer can choose to try and talk the players into choosing the offer before they reveal a new card.
Cards will keep being placed out onto the table until one of the players wants the cards. To claim the cards a player has to slap the Slam Dunk board and say “Slam Dunk”. This player will take all of the face up cards (including any card that the dealer was about to place) and place them in a face down pile/stack in front of themselves. These cards may not be looked at again until the end of the hand. Each stack that a player claims should be kept separate.
The player who claimed the cards will be the dealer for the next offer. They will pick up the rest of the unused cards and start turning them over.
End of Hand
During the game players are only allowed to claim a certain number of offers. If there are three players, each player can take four offers. In four and five player games, each player can take three offers. Once a player has taken their maximum number of offers, they cannot take anymore offers for the rest of the hand.
The first player to reach their offer limit, will be the dealer for the rest of the hand. The hand ends when all but one player has reached their offer limit. The last remaining player will take all of the remaining cards. If the deck runs out and there are two or more players remaining, the remaining players can choose to take the last offer or they can both pass.
The players will then score points based on the cards they claimed during the hand.
The deck has a number of different cards that will score points in different ways.
Sure Thing cards (cards that have a donut on them) give players the points shown on the card. If there is a minus sign before a number, the card is worth negative points.
Double or Nothing cards only score if a player collects a pair of the exact same card. If you collect two of the cards, you score the number of points on the card. If you only collect one of the cards, the card is worth nothing.
Toast or Most cards will give ten points to whichever player has the most Toast or Most cards. If there is a tie for the player with the most Toast or Most cards, neither tied player scores the points.
Jackpot cards will score points based on how many of the cards that a player collects. Players will look for the square with the number of Jackpot cards that they have. They will score points equal to the number in the circle next to the corresponding square.
Wild cards are used to complete Double or Nothing cards. They don’t act as wilds for any other type of cards. If the player has multiple choices of which to use the card with, they can choose where they want to use it. If they only have negative Double or Nothing cards left, they must use it on the negative card.
The player that scores the most points wins the hand. If there is a tie, all tied players will receive a win. If none of the players have won two hands, another round is played. The cards are shuffled before the next hand begins. The player to the left of the last dealer will be the dealer to start the next hand.
Winning the Game
The first player to win two hands wins the game.
Two Player Games
To play the game with only two players a couple of the rules are altered.
Players will sit across from one another with the Slam Dunk card placed between them.
The cards will be dealt out equally to the two players.
One player will call out to start each offer. Both players will reveal one card from their deck at the same time.
When a player claims the offer, they will take all of the cards turned over by both players.
Another offer is then played. The game ends when all of the cards have been claimed. The winner is determined by who scores the most points.
My Thoughts on The Simpsons Slam Dunk
The Simpsons Slam Dunk is kind of an interesting game as it feels like a mixture of a number of other popular card games.
Probably the most obvious is the speed element. The game in many ways reminds me a lot of many children’s speed games where players have to race to slap a card before the other players. Instead of having to slap after certain conditions are met, players need to quickly slap the Slam Dunk card once they are satisfied with the cards placed face up on the table. This isn’t exactly the same, but it feels similar. Reaction time is not as important, but you need to be quick if you want to improve your chances of winning the game. When a good card gets flipped over, several players may want to take the cards at the same time. The first player to slap the card though gets to take all of the cards.
While not the deepest genre of games, I have always somewhat enjoyed it. The mechanic relies entirely on reaction times, but that is one of the things most enjoyable about it. It is satisfying being able to steal a set of cards from another player that really wanted them. There will be some hotly contested offers where you need to be quick if you want to get them. On its own this mechanic is fun, but I think The Simpsons Slam Dunk surpasses many of these types of games as there is more to the game than just this one mechanic.
The game also has a press your luck element. This actually comes from two different areas. The first works in conjunction with the speed element. Outside of negative cards being added to an offer, you are usually better off waiting for more cards to be added to an offer. More cards gives you more scoring opportunities. As all but one of the players are competing for the same offer though, if you wait too long you may miss out on an offer that you otherwise might have wanted. Do you wait for another card to come out, or are you satisfied with the cards that are currently available? As you are limited in the number of offers that you can take, you don’t want to take an offer too soon or you will limit your points. You also don’t want to wait too long so another player may take the offer or it could become filled with negative cards. Choosing the right times to take offers probably has the biggest impact on your final score. Players that find the right times to take offers are most likely to win the game.
The press your luck mechanic also comes from the different types of cards as well. There are a number of different types of cards in the game, and they all score differently. Some are low risk and don’t score you many points, while others can either score you a lot or few points depending on how many you acquire. There are straight point cards that just give you points for claiming them. These cards automatically score you points, but they regularly will score you less points. Then there are the Double or Nothing cards that only score you points if you acquire a pair of the cards. These cards are a little more risky, but they also score you more points. On the other end of the spectrum are the Toast or Most and the Jackpot cards that basically score you zero points unless you acquire a lot of them.
I think this element is what makes The Simpsons Slam Dunk. I like that the game gives players different options for scoring. You can play conservative making sure to score the definite points, but likely less points overall. Otherwise you can choose the risky strategy where you either score a lot or few points. I personally don’t see either extreme going super well, so to do well in the game you need a combination of both. In particular I think the Double or Nothing cards are the best bang for your buck as you can score quite a few points, but don’t have to take too much of a risk. The Jackpot cards can single handily win you a round, but if you only acquire a couple of the cards, you will basically score zero points from that type of card.
This mechanic also seems to add a few memory aspects to the game. After you claim an offer, you can’t look at the cards again until the end of the hand. As many of the cards require you to have other cards in order to score points, to maximize your score you really need to try and remember what cards you claimed from previous offers. If you have any negative Double or Nothing cards, you want to try and avoid a second card of that type. The opposite holds true for positive Double or Nothing cards as you want to seek out the cards that you are missing. You don’t have to remember the cards you claimed in the past, but in a way you are hurting yourself.
On the surface The Simpsons Slam Dunk may look like your typical “slap the card” game, but in action there is more to it than that. In a way it kind of feels like if you took one of those games and added a math/planning element to it. The game is not super deep, but it has more going for it than a lot of games from this genre. You need to put thought into what you are doing as just slapping as quickly as possible won’t win you the game. You have a number of different strategies to pursue which gives players more control over the game. Ultimately The Simpsons Slam Dunk is just a more enjoyable game than most from this genre.
What makes this even better is that the game is really easy to learn and it plays quickly. If the players have ever played a game like The Simpsons Slam Dunk before, the game could probably be taught in a minute or two. Even those not familiar with the genre can likely pick it up within a couple of minutes. The most difficult aspect of the game just comes from learning how you score points from the various types of cards. This might cause a few problems for the first hand, but I think most players should have no troubles after that. The game has a recommended age of 7+ which feels appropriate. With the game’s simplicity it should play fast as most hands will only take a couple minutes.
There are a lot of things that I liked about The Simpsons Slam Dunk, but the game is not perfect.
Probably the biggest issue that I had with it was just the fact that it relies on quite a bit of luck. You can somewhat make your own luck through good decisions, but you never have a ton of control over your fate in the game. To enjoy the game you need to be okay with just letting things happen as there is a limit to how much you can do to help yourself. Between the order that the cards are revealed to what cards the other players pursue, you need to hope that luck is on your side. In particular if you go after some of the higher risk cards you aren’t going to win if luck isn’t on your side. The game kind of feels random at times. This is likely going to turn some players off from the game.
The other main issue that I had with The Simpsons Slam Dunk is just that the game is not particularly original. The combination of the mechanics does distinguish itself from quite a few games from the genre. There really aren’t any mechanics in the game though that I haven’t seen in other games. In a lot of ways The Simpsons Slam Dunk feels like it is repackaging mechanics from other games. I had fun with the game as it is a good combination of mechanics, but while playing it in the back of my head it kept feeling like I had already played a similar game. If you already own a similar game, I don’t know if it does anything unique enough to justify purchasing it in addition to the game(s) you already own.
As for the game’s components, I don’t really have much to say. The game just comes 78 cards and the Slam Dunk board. The component quality is decent enough where they should last as long as you take care of them. Cards will likely start to develop some creases though due to players trying to quickly slap the Slam Dunk board. As for the Simpsons theme, there are things that I liked and others that I didn’t. The theme really has no impact on the gameplay. You can tell that it is a re-themed version of another game. Despite that though, I think the game did a good job using the theme for the artwork. The artwork uses the theme quite well as I think fans of The Simpsons will enjoy the game.
Should You Buy The Simpsons Slam Dunk?
The Simpsons Slam Dunk is an enjoyable game even if it might not be the most unique. For the most part the game feels like a combination of speed and press your luck mechanics. In order to claim cards you need to be quicker than the other players. Choosing when to try and claim cards though is critical to the game. You want to take as many cards as possible in order to maximize your scoring potential. You can’t wait too long though or someone else will steal the cards that you want. The types of cards you pursue is important as well as you can either go after easy points or try for higher scoring opportunities. The Simpsons Slam Dunk is really easy to play and excels as the type of game that you don’t have to put too much thought into. It does rely pretty heavily on luck though as you won’t be able to win if luck isn’t on your side.
My recommendation comes down to your feelings on The Simpsons as well as speed and press your luck games. If you don’t really care for any of them or already own a similar game, I don’t see The Simpsons Slam Dunk being for you. Those that think the game sounds interesting though should enjoy it and consider picking up The Simpsons Slam Dunk.
Buy The Simpsons Slam Dunk online: The Simpsons Slam Dunk (eBay), It’s Mine! (Amazon, eBay). Any purchases made through these links (including other products) help keep Geeky Hobbies running. Thank you for your support.