New from designer Chris Castagnetto and Passport Games at Gen Con this year was 3 Wishes, a small box card game in the same class as Love Letter about aligning your three cards and figuring out the hidden information hidden throughout the table. In fact, you’ve probably heard your fair share of direct comparisons to Love Letter, a game that has essentially created an entire genre unto itself.
How 3 Wishes Plays
The concept of 3 Wishes is very simple. Every player is dealt three cards at the start of the game, with some cards discarded from the deck, and others placed faced down in the middle of the table (similar to Lost Legacy). When you receive your three cards, you can look at only ONE of them. The other two remain face down and hidden.
The cards come in three suits – yellow, red, and blue. Your goal is to get one of each suit in your hand before someone calls for scoring and flips the cards up. Anyone can call for scoring on their turn as an action, but only after everyone has played at least three times in that turn. When scoring is called for, only those who have one of each suit will score their cards and the highest such score will win the round.
On your turn, you have several options. You can peek at one of your cards. You can peek at someone else’s card. You can swap any two cards on the table. You can shuffle your own cards up and peek at two of them. The goal here, as you can imagine is to get just enough information to pull the cards you want and get rid of the ones you don’t.
Sounds simple enough, right?
There is one more twist, though.
The Time Traveler card cannot be in your hand at the end of the game. If it is, you lose immediately. So there is always a risk of blindly flipping your cards, no matter how well you think you’ve prepared. And if someone keeps trying to get rid of a card, it’s pretty good odds, it’s the Time Traveler.
What We Like About 3 Wishes
This is a quick, easy to pick up, socially engaging game that forces you to interact with your neighbors, guess a little bit, and take risks occasionally. That makes it fun. With cute card art, the risk of abject failure if you accidentally travel through time, and the fact that just having the three suits in front of you may not be enough (if someone else has a higher score they get the point), make it so you have to jockey for position constantly.
We first played this one at Gen Con during the Nerd Night Charity event and got in a good dozen rounds over the course of an hour and a half with gamers we hadn’t met before. Everyone had a good time, and it was a perfect filler between auctions and raffle announcements.
Is 3 Wishes a Love Letter Killer?
This is a cute, fun little game, but there are some issues. To start with, the game relies heavily on hidden information – as in the entire game (minus one card) is hidden from you at the start. You’ll spend several rounds hoping to pull enough information together to make a decision, and even then, there’s no guarantee you’ll have the card you want in front of you.
As a result, several rounds can end with a stalemate – no one getting the cards needed to score. Other rounds will go on for 6-7 turns before someone declares scoring just to be done with it. The tight, quick nature of the rounds in Love Letter, Lost Legacy or other quick small-deck games can be lost in 3 Wishes as it can drag out from time to time, creating real frustration in new players.
Does that make 3 Wishes a bad game? By no means. This is still fun, cute, and entertaining with the right group. But I can’t imagine replacing other similar sized games on my shelf with this one, when those others do such a good job at filling 10-15 minute gaps between longer games.
The Bottom Line
3 Wishes is well produced, quick to learn, and fun to play in small spurts. But the unknown elements, inability to fully control your outcome, even for a single round, and the possibility for rounds to result in no true winner make it a tough one to recommend to those players who already have similar games on their shelf.
Disclosure: The publisher provided a copy of this game for review.
SUMMARY & RESULTS
3 Wishes isn't for everyone. The memory component, the fact that rounds can go much longer than Love Letter, and the possibility of a wasted round can frustrate new players and pushes it out of the same category as Love Letter and other micro games.