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Subject: He Said She Said - The Pursuit of Happiness Review rss

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Calvin Nguyen
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For the full review with pictures check out our blog at https://hesaidshesaidgames.wordpress.com/2016/08/13/game-rev...

If you’ve ever played the classic Game of Life, or enjoyed creating an alter ego with the computer game The Sims, a brand new game called The Pursuit of Happiness may be the game for you. Whether your happiness comes from a relationship, a job, or from having lots of pet projects, you can create a life with endless possibilities and live it up!

Designer: Adrian Abela, David Chircop, Vangelis Bagiartakis
Publisher: Artipia Games, Stronghold Games
Genre: Worker Placement
Players: 1-4
Play Time: 90 minutes
Number of Logged Plays: 4

Game Overview

In The Pursuit of Happiness, players have eight rounds, from teenage years to old age, to live the happiest life possible. Each player receives six active hourglass markers to use as actions each round. Three additional markers are available to use if a player acquires additional bonuses in the game.

At the beginning of the game, each player chooses a childhood trait that gives them a special effect throughout the game. These range from being rich which gives you money at the beginning of every round or being a nerd which allows you to gain an additional knowledge every time you study. Lifelong Goals equal to the amount of players are placed out near the board that will give players additional points if they’re the first one to achieve that goal.

Throughout the game, players complete projects, buy items, go out on adventures, get a job, or meet a special someone – all of which increase your happiness. The way you want to live your life is entirely up to you because, at the end of the day, doing what makes you happy is the only thing that matters.

In addition to long-term happiness (aka points), players will track their short term happiness. With this, players are able to reduce the resource cost for project cards by the current value of their short term happiness. Unfortunately, if you’re having a bad year, you could have negative short term happiness which makes projects more expensive to advance.

Not everything is going to be rainbows and butterflies though, as players will have to manage their stress levels throughout their life. If players gain too much stress, they will lose hourglass markers to spend on actions because they’re too busy dealing with the stress of what they currently have on their plates. Players can complete projects that give them “Good Health” bonuses, which will allow them to reduce their stress.

Once a player gains too much stress, during the old age rounds they’ll pass away and that’s when the game is over for them. Once everyone has died, they’ll reflect on their lives and see who has accumulated the most Long Term Happiness points. The player who lived the happiest life is the winner!

Game Play

Each round will consist of three phases Upkeep, Actions, and End of Round.

Upkeep Phase – During this phase players will prepare for the current round by doing the following:
-Clear out any cards remaining from the last round and place out new ones
-Lose or gain time markers based on current stress levels
-Gain stress if you have more than three active cards. Items/Activities and completed projects do not count as active card, but projects, jobs, and partners do.
-Pay upkeep costs for items, jobs, and partners. If players are unable to pay the upkeep for any of their cards then they lose that card, gain one stress, and lose a short term happiness.

Action Phase -There are ten available actions on the board plus additional card actions that players can take to progress cards. The ten actions on the board are:
Study – Gain three knowledge
Play – Gain three creativity
Interact – Gain three influence
Take a Project – Players can select one of available projects from the board to add to their tableau. When a player select a project they need to pay the resources for the level they are starting off on. The cost is dependent on the type of project the player select. Cards with yellow text are only in play for the current round and will be discarded during the End Round phase. There are three different types of projects players can acquire:
–Basic: These always start at level one and can be advanced by taking the “Advance a Project” card action.
–Single-Round Project: These projects allow a player to select any level to complete. Unlike basic projects these cards cannot be advanced, which means you only get one reward from this card.
–Group Projects: These projects allow players to work together to get greater rewards. These cards have four roles that can be taken by any player. One player may occupy up to two of the available roles. The benefit of these projects are that all players will receive additional rewards at the end of the round if more of the roles are taken. Players with two roles will receive double the rewards.
Spend – This action allows players to purchase an item/activity from the board. When players select one of these cards they can choose what level they want on the card and gain those rewards. Typically with items, the higher the level you select results in having to pay more during the upkeep phase. Players can upgrade their items or do the next level of activity using the “Upgrade Item/Repeat Activity” card action.
Get a Temporary Job – Receive three coins
Get a Job – Select a job from the board and pay the resources required to get hired. Unlike other rows on the board, these cards do not get refreshed when they are taken. Jobs allow players to get money, but will always require at least one time marker during the upkeep phase. Players may also take the “Promotion” card action to give them a discount on the next level of a job in their field.
Develop a Relationship – Select a partner from the board to date and gain the rewards for the “Date” level. Players may advance their relationship in sequential order. Players can also have more than one partner at a time but players will immediately gain one stress when they acquire a second partner and will automatically get one stress for each partner over one.
Overtime – Players place a hourglass marker here to gain two additional hourglass markers from their reserve for the rest of the round. Players will get two stress in exchange for the two additional markers. This action cannot be taken if the two stress gained from this action causes them to move past the end of the stress track.
Rest – Relax and reduce your stress levels by two spaces. Players cannot move to a new stress color bracket using the relax action.

Card/Miscellaneous Actions:

Advance a Project – Players can advance one of their active basic projects to the next level by placing a hourglass marker on that card. Just like “Taking a Project,” the player will pay the required costs of that level and gain the rewards. Once the project is at level four, it is considered complete.
Job Promotion – This action allows players to pay the Promotion cost on a job to move to the next level of the same Job Type. Players will receive the Promotion reward but will not gain the new job’s reward. The hourglass marker used for this action will be placed into the “Spent Time” section of the board.
Upgrade an Item/Do A New Activity – Players can place an hourglass marker onto an item or activity to upgrade their item to a higher level or do an activity at a higher level on their card. Once a player moves to the next level on their item/activity card they cannot downgrade or do an activity at a lower level on the card.
Discard a Card – Players may discard a card in front of them by gaining one stress and losing one short term happiness. (This does not count as the action for your turn)
Refresh a Row of Cards – Players can refresh one row of cards on the board by losing one short term happiness. (This does not count as the action for your turn)

Players can place use as many hourglass markers on card actions without penalty. If they repeat any of the actions on the board they will gain one stress if they already have at least one marker there.

End Of Round

During this phase players will go through the following steps:
-Gain bonus rewards for group projects
-Discard group projects and single round projects
-Collect all hourglass markers. If additional markers were taken for the Overtime action they are returned back to your inactive markers pile.
-Determine the new starting player based on Short Term Happiness levels. If players are tied then the tied player furthest from the current starting player will go first.
-Reset short term happiness back to zero.

At the end of the game players will gain one long term happiness for every five resources of the same type or five money that you died with.

He Said

Growing up, I remember playing The Game of Life with my family and thinking how awesome it was that it was a simulation of life all taking place in a six person mini van. From getting to choose a career, having kids, and random life events, it was always a blast to play. When I first heard about The Pursuit of Happiness I thought it sounded like a more advanced version of The Game of Life. After playing four games of this, I can confirm that it is indeed a more advanced version of The Game of Life with a lot more options and cool life events.

The main difference between the games is that in The Pursuit of Happiness you’re trying to gain the most amount of happiness, whether it’s focusing on your career, being materialistic and buying a lot of items, or settling down with someone and raising a family. The rewards from the projects that you take on during the game also made me laugh because the rewards for them are very appropriate. Like if you wanted to eat healthy you get negative short term happiness for the first two levels because starting a diet at first is always hard. The end of every game always creates an interesting stories as you go through your projects, items, jobs, and relationships.

Juggling Act
Like Mandee, one of my favorite things about this game is how closely it tries to simulate life. In our first game, we both tried to maintain a relationship and a job and found ourselves lacking in the hourglass department pretty badly. Based on the couple times we played, it doesn’t seem like it’s possible to maintain a level three job and a family at the same time. It consumes a whopping five hourglass markers, leaving you with only one action per turn. But I guess if you were career oriented in real life it would be really difficult to spend time doing anything else. These things make the theme so strong because you could relate with the life you’re creating in this game. And if you try to spread yourself too thin, you’re not going to have a good time.

Not All Jobs Are the Same

I feel like not all level two or level three jobs should consume two or three hourglasses during the upkeep phase. It would have been nice to add more variability in the time investment with your job as you progress through your career since rising up the ranks and time spent working isn’t always a linear thing. Also not all jobs would require that much time.
The same could be said for being in a relationship as well. I feel like the long term happiness you receive once you raise a family with them is beneficial, but I think they should also bring in some income for you too. Not enough for you to replace a job with, but just enough to show that they also bring in some income as well. Alternatively, raising a family could give you additional resources the longer you’ve been at that stage to represent your kids growing up and helping you out as you get older.
Adding something like that wouldn’t add too much complexity to the game and it would really take the game up to the next level for me. So, while I really like the theme and how well they represent different aspects of life, I think they could have taken it a step further and added variable time required for certain jobs and partners because not all level three jobs are going to be the same for everyone in real life.

Stressed Out
The main resource you’ll be managing in this game is stress, and there are quite a few ways to gain it but not a lot of ways to reduce it to a significant enough point to gain extra hourglass markers. I think this aspect of the game is pretty strong thematically since getting stressed out is really easy and losing hourglass markers (aka time) because you’re too stressed makes a lot of sense. Figuring out if it’s worth it to increase your stress to get those couple extra projects or items could be the difference between winning and losing.
The only problem I had with the stress system is that there are only about five projects in the game that can give you a “Good Health” bonus to reduce your stress into a lower bracket allowing you to get additional hourglass markers. In most of the games we played, the “Good Health” cards only came out on our last adult stage or on our first old age round which limited their effectiveness. I think maybe doubling the amount of Good Health Cards would help or allowing the “Relax” effect to bring you between zones as well. Maybe I’m just not utilizing the “Overtime” action enough, but it feels like it would be extremely hard to be able to get up to two or three additional hourglass markers from less stress in a game.

Child Prodigy?
At the beginning of the game, you get two child traits that you can choose from that give you special abilities to utilize throughout the game. Some of these cards are pretty good, like not having to pay any level one cost for cards or ignoring relationship requirements. There are also some other ones that just give you one additional resource type every time you take one of the specific three actions that give you resources on the board.
One of the traits really baffled me though and that was the “Rich” trait. The reason it didn’t make a lot of sense to me was because it only gives you one gold at the beginning of each adult round. I think this trait should be a bit stronger and should give you three or five gold, which would be enough to maintain the upkeep on an item at least.
The same could be said for other traits like Nerdy, which gives you an additional knowledge token when you use the “Study” action. I think this should give you an additional knowledge token anytime you acquire one from doing anything which would make it a lot stronger and in line with some of the better traits. While it’s awesome that each player gets a child trait at the beginning, it would have been cooler if they had a bigger effect on the things you could do.

Final Thoughts
Overall I did enjoy the game but I wish it went a little deeper into differentiating jobs, relationships, and child traits. I’d recommend this as a family game or a gateway game since it’s easy to teach and all the actions make sense thematically. At the end, everyone has a cool story to tell about all the things they did in their life.

She Said

Like many other 90’s kids, I grew up playing The Game of Life and the computer game The Sims. To me, The Pursuit of Happiness is a blend of those two games. You’re in control of a new life and the possibilities are endless. Although you don’t get to build a pool and then abandon a person in it to swim helplessly for hours, but maybe I was just a mean Sims Overlord.

A Metaphor for Life
We’ve played this game a few times, and admittedly, the first few times we played it I did not enjoy this game. I found it way too stressful and thought it caused a lot of analysis paralysis each turn. However, we discovered that we had actually been playing one rule wrong and giving ourselves more stress in the game than we needed to. Which meant we were basically playing the game on Expert Level when we didn’t need to. Once we played it correctly, I began to like the game A LOT more.
This game has an incredibly strong theme and it attempts to be a metaphor for real life. One instance of this is in the ability to adopt pets like a horse, a tortoise, or a dog. Most of the animals also have a phase that you reach called “Goodbye Friend,” much like in real life.

Life is an Open Book
One of my favorite things about this game is how strong the theme is. It is a very good metaphor for how life really is – stressful and enjoyable at the same time. It requires a lot of balance to determine if you want to maintain a relationship, a job, or just bum around and do a lot of pet projects.
I played with a different strategy each game. The first game I tried to maintain a relationship and a job and that did not go well. In subsequent games, I tried not having a job and just collected projects that gave me money and other resources and I also tried having a job and collecting various items and projects. There really is no one strategy that works best, which is a nice element to this game.
One downside to the theme is that I find it way too difficult to maintain a relationship and a job in the same game. It requires way too much time and you have very few actions. And I find that it’s actually not a great metaphor for real life because it implies that you can’t have a great job, a great marriage, have kids, and still get to do things you find fun. It’s certainly possible, but not really in this game.

Good Health is Hard to Come By
In addition, to the other resources, stress is another one that requires a lot of management. It’s often incredibly difficult to not die after the first old age round because there are not enough “Good Health” cards to help you increase your stress levels.
This is a huge downside in my opinion. In a two player game, the only five good health cards may never appear in the game. This could be solved by shuffling them in so they appear every so many cards, but an easier solution is to just increase the number of cards in the deck. Although I suppose it’s a great metaphor for life that good health is hard to obtain. This is a time where the theme takes priority over game play.
And, another downside to this game is that it ends very abruptly. You suddenly become too stressed and die with very little resolution. Although this is a great metaphor for life in that you never know when death is coming, this is another instance of theme taking priority of game play.

Final Thoughts
Overall, I found this game enjoyable, but I also found it lacking. For one instance, I find the artwork a little cheesy. Second, like Calvin, I expected a little more from it. There are elements that could easily be added to the game to the make it a better reflection of real life. I also don’t like the idea that the game implies that someone cannot have a family and a career without it consuming all of their time.
And, although I love a strong theme in a game, I find this game prioritizes theme over game play, which makes the game as a whole suffer. At the end of the day, you’re still playing a board game and I’d much rather the game not be a direct reflection of real life in order to make the game play a little smoother and enjoyable.

Pros and Cons

Pros:
-Cards are very thematic
-Easy to learn
-Playtime is pretty quick
– Very strong theme that drives game play

Cons:
-Not enough cards that give the “Good Health” benefit.
-Feel like Childhood traits should have stronger bonuses. Some of them don’t feel like they’re that strong.
-Group Projects feel like they’re mandatory because of all the bonuses they give you
– Theme often takes priority over game play

The Verdict

He gives this game 6 Projects out of 10.

She gives this game 6.5 Knowledge out of 10.
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Patrick Riley
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I have only played it a couple of times solo so far, but I have yet to see a good health card come up. This meant I never did anything that dropped me down a tier in stress (and lose an hourglass). If stress were a continuous scale and you could move between tiers freely, then stress management would be more dynamic. Good health could just give you a 3-4 improvement in stress under these rules.

I thought the childhood traits were fine. Yes, they could be more powerful to give a real sense of "variable player powers," but then balance would be a big issue. As it is, they mostly affect the teen and first adult rounds, which is fitting.

One area where I think game play trumped theme is dating. There is incentive not to "play the field" and date multiple people. It seems you get locked into a single relationship. Given that 2nd and 3rd marriages are not that uncommon in the US and Europe, I'm surprised that the game discourages it so much.
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Daniel West
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I've played this four times already with 4 different groups. The same two critiques came up each time, even though the overall experience was positive due to the humor of the theme. First, the upkeep was a bit fiddly. Secondly, there are not nearly enough hearts available. This just goes to show your review read into the positives and negatives well.
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Lines J. Hutter
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One of the rules that are overlooked pretty often is that you can spend STH to re-fresh the full offer of one type. You can do this up to three times on your turn, so if you're desperately looking for a Good Health card, you could actually cycle through 12 Project cards on each of your turns.

Did you play with/use that rule?
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Daniel West
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Lines42 wrote:
One of the rules that are overlooked pretty often is that you can spend STH to re-fresh the full offer of one type. You can do this up to three times on your turn, so if you're desperately looking for a Good Health card, you could actually cycle through 12 Project cards on each of your turns.

Did you play with/use that rule?
The challenge there is that if you burn through all of your STH, the starting those projects requires 3 additional resources. Early in the game, that can be tough. There should have just been more cards with that bonus. It's the only part of that design I'll critique.
 
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Jon Pessano
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All,

Either the reviewer or I am playing the game wrong.

1) Is one allowed to upgrade an item? I thought whatever you started with is what you were stuck with.

2) With job promotion, I do not think you can get a promotion unless a similar job is on the board that is 1 level higher.

Correct?

Thx
jonpfl
 
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Stephen Buonocore
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Thanks for the review!


Thanks,
Stephen M. Buonocore
Stronghold Games
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Calvin Nguyen
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jonpfl wrote:
All,

Either the reviewer or I am playing the game wrong.

1) Is one allowed to upgrade an item? I thought whatever you started with is what you were stuck with.

2) With job promotion, I do not think you can get a promotion unless a similar job is on the board that is 1 level higher.

Correct?

Thx
jonpfl


1) With the items you can take a "Upgrade Item" Card action to upgrade your item to the next level. This would also be the same for activity cards too. I think this is the only way for you to activate the item/activity again once you buy it since you can't repeat the same level on the it after you use it once.

2) Yep, that's right you can only get a promotion one level higher to a job that's in the same type as yours.
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Adrian Abela
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jonpfl wrote:
All,

Either the reviewer or I am playing the game wrong.

1) Is one allowed to upgrade an item? I thought whatever you started with is what you were stuck with.


To be fair, the 'upgrading item' rule is a new rule which was introduced with the second edition. 2nd Edition Rulebook is here - so you might find references to 1st Edition rules which didn't allow this.
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Ray Gaer
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When I go out to stores or in most parts of society I also have a hard time finding things that are healthy or people that look are doing healthy activities so the game covers that pretty well. Remember you can use short term happiness to refresh the cards so you can find an elusive health card.
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Patrick Riley
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Lines42 wrote:
One of the rules that are overlooked pretty often is that you can spend STH to re-fresh the full offer of one type. You can do this up to three times on your turn, so if you're desperately looking for a Good Health card, you could actually cycle through 12 Project cards on each of your turns.

Did you play with/use that rule?


I did. It's a crap shoot. Oh, and by burning STH, you're making those projects more expensive.
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Garry Rice
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I imagine the chances of seeing a heart card is more likely in a four player game. I played a two player game the other night and we only saw one heart card early enough in the game to make a difference (I got it and still lost by 2 points ). We did have one more come out in the round right before old age starts, but it wasn't worth pursuing at that point. If my opponent or I had gone digging, we would have wasted alot of STH and still found nothing.
 
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Calvin Nguyen
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Lines42 wrote:
One of the rules that are overlooked pretty often is that you can spend STH to re-fresh the full offer of one type. You can do this up to three times on your turn, so if you're desperately looking for a Good Health card, you could actually cycle through 12 Project cards on each of your turns.

Did you play with/use that rule?


We did do this a couple times, but didn't have much luck with finding a Good Health card. Like a couple other people said we also didn't want to burn up too much STH either since it would make that card more expensive if we did get it. I'll have to try refreshing more often when I have a surplus of STH, but depending on the cards that come out it might be hard to get a big enough cushion to refresh that often.
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Daniel West
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I have the kickstarter bonus items. I did a count after the first game, and there were only about 6 cards out of a 60 card deck that had the heart bonus, so only 10% of the cards have that in there.
 
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Trevor Schadt
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Team D20 wrote:
I have the kickstarter bonus items. I did a count after the first game, and there were only about 6 cards out of a 60 card deck that had the heart bonus, so only 10% of the cards have that in there.
Also keep in mind that most (if not all, I don't have the cards handy) of the cards that give Health as a final reward give fewer rewards than other projects. The one that comes immediately to mind is jogging, which requires a serious investment of time markers for (relatively) little LTH, and Health.

Unless there is an overriding reason to do so (generally, the Zen Life Goal, or some hyper-focused strategy that requires taking a lot of Stress and not Resting), I am quickly coming to the conclusion that Health projects are only worth completing in your 20s, maybe 30s. After that, they become red herring prospects: the investment in time and resources necessary to complete the project will probably not pay out in the long run, especially if the majority of your time markers in an Old Age round are invested in a Job and Relationship.
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Daniel West
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ryudoowaru wrote:
Team D20 wrote:
I have the kickstarter bonus items. I did a count after the first game, and there were only about 6 cards out of a 60 card deck that had the heart bonus, so only 10% of the cards have that in there.
Also keep in mind that most (if not all, I don't have the cards handy) of the cards that give Health as a final reward give fewer rewards than other projects. The one that comes immediately to mind is jogging, which requires a serious investment of time markers for (relatively) little LTH, and Health.

Unless there is an overriding reason to do so (generally, the Zen Life Goal, or some hyper-focused strategy that requires taking a lot of Stress and not Resting), I am quickly coming to the conclusion that Health projects are only worth completing in your 20s, maybe 30s. After that, they become red herring prospects: the investment in time and resources necessary to complete the project will probably not pay out in the long run, especially if the majority of your time markers in an Old Age round are invested in a Job and Relationship.
I don't disagree, but I can say the lack of them left a sour taste in the mouths of players I've taught the game to even though they loved playing through the story the game created.
 
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Lines J. Hutter
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I agree with Trevor.
Once you play the game a couple of times you find out it's not as big as a deal than you initially thought. At least that is what happened to me.
If this is such a big problem with your group, either:

1. Shuffle thise cards into the top half or third of the deck, or
2. Remove them from the game and play without the Heart mechanic. Doesn't hurt the game at all.

Also note that once those cards show up more often, the next complaint will be that usually the start-player will grab it, which is luck if draw/timing. So option 2 might be better for your group.
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Daniel West
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Lines42 wrote:
I agree with Trevor.
Once you play the game a couple of times you find out it's not as big as a deal than you initially thought. At least that is what happened to me.
If this is such a big problem with your group, either:

1. Shuffle thise cards into the top half or third of the deck, or
2. Remove them from the game and play without the Heart mechanic. Doesn't hurt the game at all.

Also note that once those cards show up more often, the next complaint will be that usually the start-player will grab it, which is luck if draw/timing. So option 2 might be better for your group.
Or option 3, acknowledge there is a flaw in the game design that will irk first time players as noted by many people, but still play the game as is for the fun it provides. Not every flaw needs a variant.
 
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Lines J. Hutter
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Acknowledge that you see this as a flaw.
Acknowledge that the designers and the publishers were well aware about the amount of Good Health cards they put in there and decided that it's the right way (for them) to go.
Acknowledge that this is a second edition. The question about the amount of Health cards already came up and was brought to them after the release of the first edition and they could easily have fixed that if they'd considered it a flaw.

I acknowledge that you see this as a design flaw.

Just wanted to share my thoughts and give some options to enjoy the game anyways.
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Lawrence Myers
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radical suggestion: take all the good health cards out and draw a heart on all the other basic projects. so whenever someone completes any basic project to level 4 they get good health and lower stress.
 
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Daniel West
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Lines42 wrote:
Acknowledge that you see this as a flaw.
Acknowledge that the designers and the publishers were well aware about the amount of Good Health cards they put in there and decided that it's the right way (for them) to go.
Acknowledge that this is a second edition. The question about the amount of Health cards already came up and was brought to them after the release of the first edition and they could easily have fixed that if they'd considered it a flaw.

I acknowledge that you see this as a design flaw.

Just wanted to share my thoughts and give some options to enjoy the game anyways.
The reason it is a flaw is that it has left a sour taste in the mouth of every new gamer I've taught it to. A game with this theme and this weight is great for teaching newer gamers to bring them into the hobby, so anything that leaves that sour taste is a flaw, whether the designer intended or not, as it will then hurt sales. I agree that feedback was there as even the Dice Tower review mentioned this. I'm just not sure the publisher or designer properly took that critique, especially after the issues they had with this Kickstarter for the game.
 
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I would like to thank the OP for the the thorough and well-explained review.

There is a lot of discussion about an aspect of the game (the "heart" projects) and since I was the developer on this game I think I should say a few things. I've also written a post on this before, but I guess I could elaborate further here.

The Stress concept is one of the most important things in the game. It's what keeps the players in check in a sense. Most worker placement games have some sort of limitations on what the players can do in their turn, the most common one being that you cannot use the action another player used. In The Pursuit of Happiness, this concept is turned on its head. Instead of not being able to use another player's action you are "forbidden" (sort of) of using the same action yourself. This is not done through a strict rule set there by the designers but via a very thematic mechanism (the Stress track). The same mechanism also prevents the players from taking on too many time-consuming things (projects, job, partners).

The reason it's super important is that without the threat that Stress poses, all the restrictions in the game lose their meaning. It has to be there in order to make your options in the game more meaningful and fun.

If too many Health projects are introduced in the game, Stress stops being important. Moreover, if it was easy for every player to pick one such project, then everybody would die at the same round. One could argue it would be better not to have it at all and just have a fixed number of rounds.

The "problem" with the Heart bonus lies in the way people perceive it. It's effect is quite powerful (playing an extra round and getting an additional turn each round? Sign me up please!) but they tend to overlook what you have to give in order to get it. It costs a lot of hourglasses and you get less LTH than normal. While you are working on to complete it, another player completes 1.5 other Projects, gaining much more LTH than you. If you don't take that into account, yes, it seems quite powerful and all players want one - why wouldn't they? But if you factor all the parameters in, they are at the same power level as the other Projects. They are just a little bit different, allowing you to also play somewhat differently than how you normally would. They don't increase or lower your chances of winning though on their own. It still depends on the rest of the things you do.

Calling it a design flaw I think is a little bit harsh. Especially after the people behind making the game have taken all the feedback that was posted online after the game first came out and tested extensively to make sure the game was balanced. Trust me, a LOT of time was spent to make sure that the Health projects worked fine. I have won many games where someone else took such a project quite early (and I didn't) and I've also won games where the opposite was true. I think the statements from other players in the posts above as well as in the other thread I mentioned earlier, are a testament to this.

I won't deny that they *look* more powerful. And it makes sense that people playing the game for the first time think they are too good and chase them. However, if the player teaching them the game, lays out their cons as well (when explaining what the heart icon does), they won't be that highly sought after and people will take them as they really are - just another type of Projects. Did they come up too late in the game? Just ignore them, you don't HAVE to take them.

Of course, if you don't agree with me, feel free to remove them from your games or shuffle them all in the top-half of the Project deck to make sure they appear more often. I do believe that the most important thing is for the players to have fun and if something prevents you from doing so, then please change it.

I would also like to comment a little bit on another downside that was mentioned in the review: The fact that it doesn't sound right not to be able to have a good job and a family at the same time and still be able to do things for fun. Keep in mind that a L1 Job and a L3 Partner take up 3 of your Hourglasses. That leaves you with 3 more (under normal circumstances) to do things for fun which is pretty reasonable. Now, if you take up higher level jobs, that leaves less time but if you consider it, it makes perfect sense. Being a CEO at a big company (or even the President in a country), is not a 9 to 5 job. It takes almost all of your time plus weekends, leaving the bare minimum for your Family. You won't have the time required to also become a Master Painter or direct the next oscar-winning film!

That's all from me and sorry for the long post.

Once again, a thank you towards the OP for the review and a thank you to all who comment for enjoying the game and taking the time to participate in these discussions.
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avyssaleos wrote:
I would like to thank the OP for the the thorough and well-explained review.

There is a lot of discussion about an aspect of the game (the "heart" projects) and since I was the developer on this game I think I should say a few things. I've also written a post on this before, but I guess I could elaborate further here.

The Stress concept is one of the most important things in the game. It's what keeps the players in check in a sense. Most worker placement games have some sort of limitations on what the players can do in their turn, the most common one being that you cannot use the action another player used. In The Pursuit of Happiness, this concept is turned on its head. Instead of not being able to use another player's action you are "forbidden" (sort of) of using the same action yourself. This is not done through a strict rule set there by the designers but via a very thematic mechanism (the Stress track). The same mechanism also prevents the players from taking on too many time-consuming things (projects, job, partners).

The reason it's super important is that without the threat that Stress poses, all the restrictions in the game lose their meaning. It has to be there in order to make your options in the game more meaningful and fun.

If too many Health projects are introduced in the game, Stress stops being important. Moreover, if it was easy for every player to pick one such project, then everybody would die at the same round. One could argue it would be better not to have it at all and just have a fixed number of rounds.

The "problem" with the Heart bonus lies in the way people perceive it. It's effect is quite powerful (playing an extra round and getting an additional turn each round? Sign me up please!) but they tend to overlook what you have to give in order to get it. It costs a lot of hourglasses and you get less LTH than normal. While you are working on to complete it, another player completes 1.5 other Projects, gaining much more LTH than you. If you don't take that into account, yes, it seems quite powerful and all players want one - why wouldn't they? But if you factor all the parameters in, they are at the same power level as the other Projects. They are just a little bit different, allowing you to also play somewhat differently than how you normally would. They don't increase or lower your chances of winning though on their own. It still depends on the rest of the things you do.

Calling it a design flaw I think is a little bit harsh. Especially after the people behind making the game have taken all the feedback that was posted online after the game first came out and tested extensively to make sure the game was balanced. Trust me, a LOT of time was spent to make sure that the Health projects worked fine. I have won many games where someone else took such a project quite early (and I didn't) and I've also won games where the opposite was true. I think the statements from other players in the posts above as well as in the other thread I mentioned earlier, are a testament to this.

I won't deny that they *look* more powerful. And it makes sense that people playing the game for the first time think they are too good and chase them. However, if the player teaching them the game, lays out their cons as well (when explaining what the heart icon does), they won't be that highly sought after and people will take them as they really are - just another type of Projects. Did they come up too late in the game? Just ignore them, you don't HAVE to take them.

Of course, if you don't agree with me, feel free to remove them from your games or shuffle them all in the top-half of the Project deck to make sure they appear more often. I do believe that the most important thing is for the players to have fun and if something prevents you from doing so, then please change it.

I would also like to comment a little bit on another downside that was mentioned in the review: The fact that it doesn't sound right not to be able to have a good job and a family at the same time and still be able to do things for fun. Keep in mind that a L1 Job and a L3 Partner take up 3 of your Hourglasses. That leaves you with 3 more (under normal circumstances) to do things for fun which is pretty reasonable. Now, if you take up higher level jobs, that leaves less time but if you consider it, it makes perfect sense. Being a CEO at a big company (or even the President in a country), is not a 9 to 5 job. It takes almost all of your time plus weekends, leaving the bare minimum for your Family. You won't have the time required to also become a Master Painter or direct the next oscar-winning film!

That's all from me and sorry for the long post.

Once again, a thank you towards the OP for the review and a thank you to all who comment for enjoying the game and taking the time to participate in these discussions.
I appreciate the response. Please notice in my critique as we all in the review, the statement was not made that the hearts unbalance the game, but rather that when a new player dies one round earlier because they did not take a heart project, even if they won, they feel frustrated, which is a sign they were enjoying the game up until that one final note which then soured the whole game. Psychology has shown that the first and last impression of an experience will define someone's overall view of the whole time they spent on that experience. Having an ending situation leave a bad taste in their mouth therefore is a design flaw as it then becomes something that overshadows what had been a positive experience up until that point. A metaphor would be a song with a great sound that catches your ear and then the band goes on to end the song by repeating the chorus 12 times. By that 7th time through the chorus, you may be ready for them to end it, but because it keeps going, your enjoyment perception of the song, which you loved up until that point, drops quickly. People I've played it with have shown all of the signs of loving the game, including laughter and making jokes about how the cards tell a story, but when they start looking for a heart and repeatedly don't see it and then end the game a round shorter than everyone who did get a heart, it has that 12th chorus effect of overshadowing all of the fun had up until that point.

I still rate the game a 7.5. I think the theme comes shining through, and the game is indeed very well balanced, and even fun. It just has a little let down at the ending for some players. Yes, that is a flaw, but every game has them, even the ones I rate a 10.

Edited for some pretty bad grammatical errors. My apologies.
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avyssaleos wrote:
I would like to thank the OP for the the thorough and well-explained review.

There is a lot of discussion about an aspect of the game (the "heart" projects) and since I was the developer on this game I think I should say a few things. I've also written a post on this before, but I guess I could elaborate further here.

The Stress concept is one of the most important things in the game. It's what keeps the players in check in a sense. Most worker placement games have some sort of limitations on what the players can do in their turn, the most common one being that you cannot use the action another player used. In The Pursuit of Happiness, this concept is turned on its head. Instead of not being able to use another player's action you are "forbidden" (sort of) of using the same action yourself. This is not done through a strict rule set there by the designers but via a very thematic mechanism (the Stress track). The same mechanism also prevents the players from taking on too many time-consuming things (projects, job, partners).

The reason it's super important is that without the threat that Stress poses, all the restrictions in the game lose their meaning. It has to be there in order to make your options in the game more meaningful and fun.

If too many Health projects are introduced in the game, Stress stops being important. Moreover, if it was easy for every player to pick one such project, then everybody would die at the same round. One could argue it would be better not to have it at all and just have a fixed number of rounds.

The "problem" with the Heart bonus lies in the way people perceive it. It's effect is quite powerful (playing an extra round and getting an additional turn each round? Sign me up please!) but they tend to overlook what you have to give in order to get it. It costs a lot of hourglasses and you get less LTH than normal. While you are working on to complete it, another player completes 1.5 other Projects, gaining much more LTH than you. If you don't take that into account, yes, it seems quite powerful and all players want one - why wouldn't they? But if you factor all the parameters in, they are at the same power level as the other Projects. They are just a little bit different, allowing you to also play somewhat differently than how you normally would. They don't increase or lower your chances of winning though on their own. It still depends on the rest of the things you do.

Calling it a design flaw I think is a little bit harsh. Especially after the people behind making the game have taken all the feedback that was posted online after the game first came out and tested extensively to make sure the game was balanced. Trust me, a LOT of time was spent to make sure that the Health projects worked fine. I have won many games where someone else took such a project quite early (and I didn't) and I've also won games where the opposite was true. I think the statements from other players in the posts above as well as in the other thread I mentioned earlier, are a testament to this.

I won't deny that they *look* more powerful. And it makes sense that people playing the game for the first time think they are too good and chase them. However, if the player teaching them the game, lays out their cons as well (when explaining what the heart icon does), they won't be that highly sought after and people will take them as they really are - just another type of Projects. Did they come up too late in the game? Just ignore them, you don't HAVE to take them.

Of course, if you don't agree with me, feel free to remove them from your games or shuffle them all in the top-half of the Project deck to make sure they appear more often. I do believe that the most important thing is for the players to have fun and if something prevents you from doing so, then please change it.

I would also like to comment a little bit on another downside that was mentioned in the review: The fact that it doesn't sound right not to be able to have a good job and a family at the same time and still be able to do things for fun. Keep in mind that a L1 Job and a L3 Partner take up 3 of your Hourglasses. That leaves you with 3 more (under normal circumstances) to do things for fun which is pretty reasonable. Now, if you take up higher level jobs, that leaves less time but if you consider it, it makes perfect sense. Being a CEO at a big company (or even the President in a country), is not a 9 to 5 job. It takes almost all of your time plus weekends, leaving the bare minimum for your Family. You won't have the time required to also become a Master Painter or direct the next oscar-winning film!

That's all from me and sorry for the long post.

Once again, a thank you towards the OP for the review and a thank you to all who comment for enjoying the game and taking the time to participate in these discussions.


Thanks for the response. We didn't really think about it that way before, to compare it to the other projects like that. I think the carrot on the stick of potentially getting another hourglass marker by reducing stress made us really want to get a Good Health card to achieve this.

I agree that it takes a large amount of time to have a good job and a family at the same time. I was just thinking that it would of been interesting to see some variability at the level 2 and level 3 job levels in terms of time. Since having the same job as someone else doesn't necessarily mean that you spend the same amount of time working as that other person. The way it currently is makes sense though since it ensures all players are equal if they choose to progress to the next job level.

We still really enjoyed the game and how cool it was to relive those memories of the Game of Life in a more advanced way that gives you more control over how your life turns out.
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So is this just a gateway/family game? I was hoping for something a little heavier
 
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