POW! is a push-your-luck dice game designed by the famous Reiner Knizia where players are trying to recruit equal amounts of heroes and villains. The theme is loosely based around creating an exciting superhero story.
POW! is set up by created two random rows of tiles, one of the heroes and one of the villains. Each hero has a positive value, while each villain has a negative. each turn a player will roll the dice and try to gain heroes and villains to place in front of them. The dice have blue shields, orange skulls, blue bubbles, and orange bubbles, and can be re-rolled up to 3 times with at least 1 die being set aside each time. The available actions a player has is determined by the dice. Only one action may be taken, even if multiple actions are available.
- Blue Shields – If a player has at least one blue shield they may take a hero tile. The number of blue shields rolled determines the position of the hero in the row that will be taken
- Orange Skulls – If a player as at least one orange skull they make take a villain tile. The number of orange skulls rolled determines the position of the villain in the row that will be taken
- Blue/Orange Bubbles – If 3 blue bubbles are rolled the player may steal a hero off another player’s stack. The action for rolling 3 orange bubbles is similar, but pertains to villains. If 4 or more bubbles are rolled of each type the player may steal a tile from any position in another player’s stack, but the tiles can’t be looked at first.
Each time a hero or villain is acquired they’re places in either a hero stack or villain stack in front of the player. This means that only the top tile of each stack will be visible to all players.
Play continues until there are no more tiles left to acquire, then player’s score their tiles. Before scoring can begin, the player’s compare the size of their hero and villain stacks. If one stack is higher than another tiles are discarded off the top until both stacks or equal. Once that’s done players add up their scores to determine the victor.
POW! comes in a small box that just about perfectly fits the chunky cardboard tiles and oversized plastic dice. The illustrations on each tile or colorful, with a very family-friendly, comic-like aesthetic. Each tile is also clearly labeled as to what its value is. The dice contain large, easy to identify symbols.
Seeing as POW! is designed by Reiner Knizia, a man known for drier, mathematically oriented games, one might expect a much different game. While the theme is still pasted on, the game is much lighter than one might expect from the prolific designer. POW! takes about 1 minute to learn, and about 15-20 minutes to play. There’s some player interaction when it comes to stealing tiles, but everything comes down to the luck of the dice. You can push that luck a bit to try and better your outcome, but overall the game feels fairly lucky.
POW! does contain a bit of hand management, as you’re trying to keep your stacks of heroes and villains balanced. There’s also a bit of memory when it comes to what heroes and villains are in your, and other players’, stacks. Overall there’s not much here to differentiate it from other games of the same style. It’s fun to play with the kids, but it’s not something I can see coming out at game night, even as a quick filler. Even as far as family games go there are some better ones out that that do a similar thing. The scoring twist of having to keep your two stacks balanced isn’t enough to elevate POW! up to anything other than just an “OK” game.
A copy of POW! was provided free for review by Gigamic