Toy Wizards would like to thank Bush League™ Games for supplying us with a copy of Drop Squad™: The Escape for review. You can pick up your own copy on Amazon for $59.99.
Bush League™ Games is an independent board game publisher founded in 2017 by TJ Fechser. Bush League™’s first game is Drop Squad™: The Escape, published alongside an app of the same name.
Drop Squad™ is a physics-based family strategy card game designed TJ Fechser. TJ got the idea as he drove down the highway in the summer of 2013, imagining the road as the board of a tabletop game, and the other, slower-moving cars as obstacles in his way. A day later, after a visit to the hardware store, a prototype of the game was created.
Drop Squad™: The Escape is similar to the game Plinko, from The Price is Right.
Marbles are dropped through a series of pegs towards goals at the bottom of the board. Points are scored for every marble – yours or your opponents’ – that land in your goal. Players can also play and pivot ramps to alter the paths of the marbles, dictated by the cards in their hand. At the end of the game, the player with the most points (or marbles in their goal) wins.
This all sounds straightforward enough– but how does it play? Well, good thing I had two kids at my disposal, ready to play a game.
While Bush League Games was kind enough to send me a review copy, this game does in fact cost $60 for 15-30 minutes of game play. It makes me question the value of cash in exchange for time spent. Yes, I understand the point of tabletop games is to get away from TVs and screens and technology, but when you spend $60 on two kids for a day trip to the museum or $60 on a video game, you know you’re getting several hours of entertainment.
When I opened the game box, I immediately understood how my mom felt when she talked about not wanting to buy my sisters and me board games that contained too many ‘parts and pieces’. That’s really all this game is, and I immediately felt that parental stress of not wanting my kids to lose anything from this set. Because if you lose any of the moving parts, the game is no longer playable. Look what comes in this box:
50 playing cards, 1 board, 22 ramps, 30 marbles, 5 goal pieces, 20 score pegs, 2 game board kickstands, rules, a sticker sheet, and poster.
For me with two wild children (ages 4 and 6) this is a lot of responsibility.
Now, while the game boasts itself as easy to set up and easy to play, I found I had to read and re-read the instructions to understand. I wasn’t quite sure where the cards came into play and why dice couldn’t be used instead. Before I was able to fully set up the board, the marbles, the goals, the ramps, the cards, my kids were off full speed into crazy town and the game devolved into a game of Plinko/Pachinko. We had a good time, but it was more or less a marble race.
Overall, the game is fast paced and fun, and if you have kids who are a little older and are willing to wait out the set up and explanation of rules, you can probably keep them playing Drop Squad for a while. It’s a good kick-off game for a new board game publisher and I really hope it finds its people. The only direct criticism I have is unfortunately the artwork– the design of the characters doesn’t work for my sensibilities, but that is completely subjective.
I give Drop Squad: The Escape 3/5 Wizard Stars.