Theme&andn’What is it?
As you make your way to the designated village you come across a very nice hill with a door in the side. On the door is the mark you have been looking for. The secret mark that let’s adventurers know this is the home of a master burglar. You look around and it seems like you might be the first one here. Should you wait or head in and meet your new adventuring companion? Might as well head in.
As your other companions arrive you soon realize this is starting to become quite the party! You also notice that it is starting to get on the nerves of this burglar. Being a sensible dwarf, you do what is expected. You really kick the party into overdrive and make up an awesome musical description of the dinner situation. But you don’t want to anger your host too much. He is, after all, the person who will make the companionship 14 members. Heavens know you don’t want to go on this journey with only 13.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Party is a worker placement/pickup and deliver game for 2-4 players.
I was very excited to get a copy of this game. The Hobbit is one of my all-time favorite books. I have read it so many times. I still remember reading about the unexpected party for the first time all those years ago (I was 11 or 12 the first time I read The Hobbit). I was not at all disappointed. The game has all the hectic energy that you feel reading the book. You feel the song as it comes together around the board and if you are like me you sing it. Not the movie version, the cartoon version from the 70’s.
The game was easy to learn and easy to teach. I played with Ally and my two oldest (11 & 8). We played a practice round to make sure everyone had the basic idea and then we reset and got right into it. Everyone enjoyed it. There was not much downtime between turns. Just enough to figure out what you wanted your next move to be based on what other people were doing. The overall length of the game was great. We finished up in about 70 minutes. After a couple of plays that should be between 45-60 minutes.
An Unexpected Party has a worker placement element. Players take turns placing their workers around the board, which represents Bilbo’s hillside home. In each room there are different areas to place your dwarf. There are doors you can “open” and these provide items and party cards. There are spots where you can sing. When you place on one of these spaces, you play a party card with a lyric from the song about things that Bilbo hates (not sure how much I can type about the song since it is copy protected). You have to place the corresponding item that matches the song lyric from your personal supply and set it in the required room. These items are collected by searching doors and enter a room where Gandalf is located.
Be careful during all of this because Bilbo is watching and getting more curious and more furious all the time. Curious markers go on a player’s board and can be gained a number of ways. Once all curious spaces on a player board are full, the next time you have to add curious markers you will flip over a curious marker to show the furious side. Furious markers cause players to have less room to carry items. If a player has filled up all of the curious spaces with furious markers then that dwarf must sit in the kitchen. At this point the player will select a new dwarf and it is that dwarf’s turn to give Bilbo grief.
Players continue to make messes and sing about it and Bilbo tries to tidy up until the entire song is sung or until Thorin (king of the dwarves) enters the house. When he gets there it’s time to get down to business. The player with the most points wins!
Very nice, high quality components. The board was thick cardboard and the cards were nice card stock. The standees were what I would expect to see.
My only issue was the size of the box and the insert. I was not able to fit everything back in and close the lid without it being pushed out a bit from the components inside. It is not terrible, but another ½ inch would have been enough space to fit everything. Maybe I need to unpack and replace items a few times to really get the feel of how it all should fit. Not a big deal but I noticed it.
The artwork was headed by the person in charge of artwork for The Hobbit movies. Theis made the game tie in perfectly with what we have all seen on screen. The dwarves were the same as they are in the movie and their personalities really stand out. Also, Bagend looks amazing laid out on the gameboard! It feels like you are hanging out in Bilbo’s home. This all allows players to become involved in the story and enjoy the moment you have together.
I loved creating the song. The lines are pulled right from the book. We had a rule that you had to sing your card as you played it on the song track. This made for lots of laughs and merriment, which is what the dwarves were going for.
It is also fun to be in a world that I am so familiar with. I love this story and being able to be the characters and take part in the story was very exciting.
The worker aspect was polished, and moving around to collect items needed to complete song cards was challenging given limitations on placement due to other player’s moves and Bilbo’s placement in the house.
The age recommendation for An Unexpected Party is 10+. That is a spot-on evaluation. My 8-year- old son played and did not have much difficulty picking up the mechanics but he did struggle with creating a strategy. He didn’t do terribly, he was just never competitive. I think with another year or two he would be doing just fine. My 11-year-old daughter ended up winning our first game.
The game is a fairly light worker placement game with a splash of pickup and delivery. You should not hesitate to play this game with board game newbies, especially fans of the books. This could be a nice entry for them.
Seasoned players should have nothing to fear either as there is plenty of strategy to go around and many chances to mess with other players.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Party was very well received. It lived up to the excitement I had going into it. The game was very easy to learn and teach. We were able to play it as a family and enjoy time together with a game that had many elements that made the experience enjoyable. I look forward to moments like that and that means I totally look forward to the next time we get to play An Unexpected Party. It truly ended up being just that, an unexpected party.