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In midlife crisis, players (2-6) take turns moving their piece along the board, and gaining or losing stress, money and 'divorce points' by doing so. The winner is (usually) the player to end the game with the most money, least stress and fewest divorce points (the score is calculated as $ - stress - divorce - unused zap cards).
The production values are mixed; the board in mounted and cards are OK, but not laminated in any way. Design is clean, but not exciting and color use is a tad on the dull side.
The actual gameplay is a lot better than many games of a similar ilk; there are several interesting rules that make the game actually require some thought. For example, the board is divided into several age zones, and travelling between them requires a wait at the end of the zone for a turn, during which time another player may increase one of your levels. Since getting a certain amount of stress, divorce points, or going bankrupt means you will spend at least a turn in a sin bin, returning to the *start* of the age category you were in, it means care must be taken when getting to that spot. However the player to force a crisis must spend their turn to do it, and they must be in the same age group as yourself. Will they do it? And after passing through, you get to improve a rating in one of the categories, which may be a life saver!
Another rule of interest is that ZAP cards, which can be used to attack other players, can only be used on players ahead of you IN THE CURRENT AGE GROUP. This means they are a limited form of 'gang up on the leader', whereby a leader way ahead of you cannot be attacked (there are some 'super zap' cards which allow anyone to be zapped, but they are far fewer). This is a nice mechanism and makes it a good idea actually to race for the end; otherwise there's little motivation to do so.
But the most interesting rule is that if you should go to a 'sin bin' to recover, instead you can declare a full-on crisis and opt out from playing the game the same way as everyone else. Now instead of getting the most money and fewest stress/divorce points, you have a new goal: have a crisis in each of the categories before anyone reaches the end. This switch in priorities makes a big difference in the game; and adds a ton of interest. I'm not aware of any other 'party' style game that allows this changing of goals mid-play, and it makes it much more enjoyable as if you get hit with a series of really unlucky crises -- then maybe you might think of switching gears and really getting into those mid-life failings!
Flavor text is clearly very important in this game, and in the group I've played in (ages 13,32,34,37,67,69) only the younger player was not often amused. We're not talking side-splittingly funny, but overall the humor worked well. Sometimes a little too well - if someone you know has recently had a bad divorce, I'd really think carefully about playing the game with them.
Overall, the genre of 'amusing themed games' is laden with turkeys. This one is probably the best I've played. I will probably play it again, and with a few drinks, I'd be surprised if anyone actively hated it ...
... unless it hits a little too close to home, of course!
Yes, a reply to a ye olde post...
Is there a chance you could abbreviate the rules (or scan the rulebook) somehow for me, I came across this in a second hand store, and forgot to check if there was a rulebook before I bought the game.
So now I'm a bit at a loss of all the main rules.
I can copy the rules for you. Can you help me figure out if my game is complete? I'm trying to figure out if it's got all the cards intact.