Thinking about my next move.
So, if my only options are these, then I shall...
1) What is it?
CV is a dice rolling game in which players are making their curriculum vitae - but in the complete sense of the words, as this is meant to be the curriculum of the entire life: relationships, knowledges, skills, properties, health, and so on.
The game flow is very simple, clean and easy: just roll some dice, use them, along side some bonus given by cards you already took earlier, to get more cards, in order to get more points, as CV is also a set collection game: the more cards of the same type you have at the end of the game, more points will you get.
While there are several good things about the game - is cute, plays nicely, has a good amount of decisions (from rolling again, to which cards to take, considering sets and effects given), and the theme is well implemented - there are some strong issues also: there is almost zero interaction (I remember a single card that allows a player to use a symbol of someone else's job), which makes the downtime seem higher than it actually is, as there is nothing to do in the other player turns nor there is a way to have some affect into them - it is simple a matter of watching and hoping the others roll bad and worst cards appears to them, and this is simple to little to keep interest going, as there are people playing who would simple turn their attention elsewhere when their turn was over - and they didn't do any worst because of this.
Also, the replay value is questionable: the random order the cards come up, even if divided in three distinct decks, help changing the flow a little. There are also hidden and open goals, also randomly taken at the start of the game - and these make the direction of play change. Still, the overall feel and decisions are mostly the same, as the goals simply change the colors needed, and not truly the path to play or options to take. The replay value also drops since almost all the cards come up during play, but at least this helps against the next issue.
Luck is strongly present in CV. Not truly a surprise, due to the nature of the beast. Yes, it is possible to re-roll dice, keep some, and the cards, by giving extra symbols, allowing to change symbols into others, giving more re-rolls, etc, do a great job in lowering the effect of the dice. Yet, dice are dice and will do their thing no matter what. Even more when there are one bad face: the bad luck face (properly named). The bad luck symbols give players nothing, aren't allowed to be re-rolled (normally) and exist only to bother and create some tension when deciding to re-roll. A game is like very much, Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age, has a similar face on the die: the disaster. Yet, while the die with this face showing can't be re-rolled (usually) and can be bad when 2 or more appear in the same turn, the design is smarter, as the player receives 2 goods (which is very nice) per die with the disaster symbol, and 3 disasters help you by harming others. Therefore, sometimes players want to roll and get disaster symbols. This isn't true for CV, except when considering a couple of cards that allow the use of them for something positive - for 95% of the time (and 100% to some), rolling bad luck are true to the name of the symbol. To add more, there is the other way: roll three good luck faces, and you get a card for free. Yes, it is thematic: chance is part of life. Yet, in games, it seems a poor mechanic.
Overall, CV isn't even near perfect, but it is serviceable and light enough game to decompress, get some laughs in with the character's life choices. I liked it more than my previous comments might lead one to think, since compliments most readers accept outright while criticism must the explain exhaustively.
2) How do you play?
At the start every player receives one hidden goal (something that will give extra points at the end of the game), and one or more goals will be open - these will also score at the end of game, but only for the player that best met the conditions in each of them. Them every player receives 3 childhood cards, and there is a draft round, in which players pick one card and pass the others, until everyone again has 3 cards. These are always event cards, except the Bicycle, which is a property and marks the first player.
In her turn the player rolls from 4 to 7 dice (4 is the norm, but some cards give more). After the initial roll, the player can set aside symbols she wants to keep, and roll again the others, except dice showing the bad luck symbol, which can't be re-rolled. Again, after the second roll, the player can keep some, and roll the others - even rolling one or more of the previously set aside. After the third roll, usually there won't be more re-rolls allowed (some cards can change this).
Once the rolls are done, the player can buy cards - up to two. Cards are bought by spending symbols/dice to take them, adding the cards to the player's tableau or to the players hand (if they are event cards), to be used later. Some type of cards (like jobs), are always put in front, being active, while others (like relationships, health, etc), when taken can be put behind other of the same type, meaning the previously card will remain active, while the new will just add to final scoring.
If the player rolls three good luck symbols, she can take one card of the row for free. If the players rolls three bad luck synmbols, she must lose one active card.
After the player is done buying, new cards are drawn from the appropriated deck (early adulthood, middle age or old age) and added to the row. Once the plays return to the first player, the leftmost card is taken out. When each of the first two decks end, players check to see in anyone has less than half the amount of cards in the tableau then the player with the most cards - if this happens, the players that have less than half, can take one card from the row for free.
Play proceeds this way until the Old Age deck has less cards than the number of players - when this happens, the game is over. Players will reveal their hidden goals, and score for them, check also who will take the open goals and score for them, and, finally, score for the set of cards in the tableaus. The player with the most points will be the winner!
3) Which are the decisions made during play?
What dice to re-roll. When to use the Event cards (normally, given by the situation). The most important and pressing of the decisions is which cards to buy, considering the sets (more of a kind are worth more in the end), the effects they grant and the cards in the sets of the other players. Still, many times you will just buy what you can.
There is the decision of which card to keep active, as some types allow this, and since most of the cards have nice effects, this decision carries some weight, but not all that much, as, again, most of the cards will be good one way or the other.
Overall, CV presents light decision-making.
4) What are the good things in the game?
- Good graphic design and art;
- Theme works very well and is nicely thoughtout in the cards and goals;
- A good level of humor, not enough to be the drive force in the game (as it would surely get old fast), but is there to be appreciated;
- Easy to teach and to play;
- It plays well (as is likely best) with 2 players;
- Language independant;
- Several (light) decisions to be made throughout.
5) Which are the bad news?
- Almost zero interaction between players going further then taking what someone next might want;
- As there is nothing to be between rounds, there can be some downtime issues;
- Luck (both bad or good) can decide the game;
- Replay value could be an issue.
6) How do you feel while playing?
As if life is a lot simpler - simple, achievable goals, much easier to get a job and find friends; even work out isn't as dull. Yet, board game design won't ever give you money - so sad. Chance can still harm or help, and you are likely to believe that it has something against you. Regardless of this, you will probably follow a nice path to a relaxing retirement in a private castle, owning a factory, having money, friends and a good health. It is the dream, dude.
CV strikes many positive notes, and the theme being the best of all for me, from the a child giving happiness and a relationship, but costing money, to the trip around the world allowing you to see the bad luck as a bump to better things. All is in place, and I can only admire the work to make all this seamless and working completely with the mechanics. Of course, much of the humor in the game derives from here, so is clear the importance of it to the whole process.
It also plays well enough, even more with 2 players (as it plays faster and there is more control), which is a big draw for many. Yet, the issues I had with it will prevent me from going much after it. It will fit best for occasional play, not only to keep the fun fresh, but also because the mechanics can bother (due to the luck factor and almost zero interaction). CV could be a true winner, however it doesn't reach greatness, just adequateness.
Image credit: Camdin
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