And here’s another edition of Off the Shelf, my series examining older games I own. This time, we’re taking a look at a classic Wonderland themed game called
Parade is a 2-6 player game designed by Naoki Homma and published in 2007 by Grimpeur, a Japanese company. Z-Man Games published it in English in 2013, and that’s the version I have. The general gist is that the characters of Wonderland are having a parade, and your job is to organize it so that characters don’t wander off. If they do, you score points, and you don’t want points.
I got this game in 2016, and I think I might have gotten it at Gen Con that year. I thought it looked really interesting, and I didn’t have a Wonderland game, so I picked it up. The game has 66 cards, divided into six suits of eleven each, valued 0 to 10. At the start, each player gets a hand of five cards, and six more are dealt into a line to start the parade.
On your turn, you’re simply going to add a card to the back of the parade. Depending on what you play, you may have to take some cards. If the value of the card you played is equal to or higher than the number of cards that were already in the parade, you take nothing. Otherwise, you count as many cards in the line as the value of the card you played. Any card in that range will not get taken. However, you will have to take cards from outside of that range if they fill one or both of the following conditions:
- They’re the same color as the card you played.
- Their value is less than or equal to the card you played.
Cards that are taken are placed face up in front of you, and gaps are filled by shifting cards forward in the line.
The game is over when all players have only four cards left, and there are no more cards to draw. This means that when the deck runs out, each player will get one more turn. To end, each player will choose two cards from their hand to discard, and the other two to add to their collected cards. These are revealed simultaneously.
To score, figure out who has the most cards in each color. The player who does can flip those cards face down. Ties are friendly (i.e., all tied players can flip their cards). Once this is done, add up your score. Each face up card is worth face value, each face down card is worth one point. The player with the lowest score wins.
I talked about Parade some in my recent review of Reflections in the Looking Glass, noting that I just don’t have a whole lot of Wonderland themed games. There are, of course, more out there, with Wonderland’s War being a recent hit. But still, it’s a theme I think could be explored more in the game space.
Parade does have the Wonderland theme, but it’s more of a framing device than anything immersive. The Wonderland theme was the original theme when the game was first published in Japan back in 2008, and has stuck with the game through most editions. The Schmidt Spiele printing in 2014 went with just straight colors and numbers, which to me seems less interesting, though probably still just as functional.
The illustrations in my edition of Parade were done by Chris Quilliams, and evoke that classic original art from Carroll’s work. The purple cover showing the Cheshire Cat is quite striking, and really makes the game stand out. You get six characters in the Parade – the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, Alice, Humpty Dumpty, the Dodo, and the White Rabbit. While I miss seeing some of the other wild characters from Wonderland (I would have loved to see the Tweedles), this is a good group.
Mechanically, the game isn’t that difficult, even if the process of taking a card can be a bit confusing sometimes. You’re just adding a card to the end of the line, comparing the value to the length, then taking cards if you need to. In the end, there’s a bit of area control thrown in as you can score fewer points in a color where you have the majority. And that, to me, is the heart of this game. You’re going to take cards and you can’t avoid it. The question is, do you try to take as few cards as possible, or do you concentrate on having the majority in colors? Getting a majority when you only have low cards isn’t quite as beneficial as getting a majority when you have high cards, so that needs to be taken into consideration as well.
Parade is part of a grand tradition of what I like to call “point avoidance” games. These are games that, like golf, have the goal of scoring as few points as possible. Other games in this genre include No Thanks, Hearts, 6 nimmt, Blokus, and others I can’t think of right now. It’s surprisingly challenging to not take points in a lot of these games, so part of the strategy is usually to try to minimize the damage.
Because Parade is fairly quick and not complex, it’s a pretty ideal filler stye game. It’s also a fairly accessible game, though I think some people would probably be confused by some of the little quirks. It’s one I enjoy playing, but you do kind of need a group to make it work.
I’m continuing to rank these Off the Shelf games as I go. I’m going to put Parade between Morels and Rattlebones, making it my current #4 game. You can always check these ranking on the tab at the top of the page, as long as I remember to update them.
That’s it for today. Thanks for reading!