In the past year there seems to have been some sort of awakening among companies known for children’s games. They’ve collectively moved into the big box, family game market, and they’ve done it well. Blue Orange Games began the trend with Vikings on Board and the excellent New York 1901. HABA followed suit with Spiel-des-Jahres nominee Karuba and a few other titles. Now, FoxMind Games joins the fray with Get Rich Quick from designer Lenny Herbert.
Get Rich Quick has a cartoony take on the “get rich and live luxuriously” theme popularized by Monopoly, and a simple set of rules. But as all of these companies vie for the same corner of the market, games will have to stand out more and more. So let’s find out if Get Rich Quick can help FoxMind… get rich quick (sorry, had to).
The central mechanism of Get Rich Quick is straightforward, but with a lot of subtleties. Players are dealt the same 7 cards, and everyone secretly picks 3 cards they wish to activate in a given round. These are simultaneously revealed, but in a nice twist some cards are huge gambles depending on whether other players also choose the same card. One card gives a ton of money if you are the only person to play the card, but costs you money otherwise. There are two lower-risk cards that only require one or two players not join the fray, but the payouts are smaller. Rather than risky investments, you can always just go to Work for a small amount of guaranteed money. Or you can play the risk game by yourself through the Lottery, which is simulated through rolling dice. And to start with the actual winning (Fortune, not money, wins you the game), the Take a Break! card gives a Fortune point, and 25 of those wins you the game.
This sounds like a simple game of rock-paper-scissors, but these decisions become more interesting as paths diverge. Most of the 7 cards are about various ways to earn money, but one particular card—Shop!—allows you to buy upgrades. Suddenly, turn order is relevant—the poorest player shops first, and on up the ladder. Shopping is primarily done on a central board designed to look like a shopping mall with a variety of upgrade spaces available. Once a player buys an upgrade, that space is no longer available for other players, although some upgrades have more than one space. There are also repeat copies of Work, Lottery, and Take a Break! available for sale.
This shopping board is the key to the entire game. As such, I wish it wasn’t so unwieldy. It’s a mess to look at, both by looking somewhat “loud” but also impossible to mentally organize. I appreciate the thematic connection to a shopping mall, but I would have preferred organized columns of information. Actually, displaying the information entirely with cards that players buy would have been simpler (and cheaper). I enjoy the meeples used to mark spaces on the board, but even that misconstrues the game as worker placement, which it absolutely is not.
getrichquicksmallerDespite the usability difficulties with the shopping board, I love what it adds to the game. There are actually many paths to victory, and I was surprised by just how tough the decisions were. To the seasoned gamer, it seems obvious that the “engine-building” cards are obvious buys. These are the cards that let you Shop twice in a turn, or play four cards in a turn. Yet that turns out to be false! Playing four cards a turn means you’ll be forced to play one of the risky payout cards that you may not want to, and the game ramps up quickly enough that spending the action and the money to get the “two-buy” upgrade may not be worth it.
That isn’t to say that the classic engine-building isn’t viable, because it is. But as far as I can tell, other strategies are just as good. There are some expensive—and limited—spots in the center of the board that give huge chunks of Fortune points. Saving directly for those is also a valid strategy. And in fact, much to my surprise, I was able to obliterate my opponents by focusing on the Lottery card. There is a second copy of it available, as well as several important upgrades that make it a real threat. And yet, you have to be careful! Honing in on certain cards will telegraph to other players that they can get away with the riskier high-gain cards, and you’ll be too deep into your own strategy to run up against them.
So, while the gameplay is simple and straightforward, the strategy is not. In fact, it’s an awful lot of fun. My one complaint about the gameplay is sort of our own fault, but it seems like it’ll happen naturally regardless. The cards are revealed simultaneously, and the Shop card is the only one whose resolution depends on other players. This means that after cards are revealed, the play can “devolve” in a sense. Players just resolve their own cards at their own hurried pace, eager to think again about which cards to play, until the rushed weirdness is stopped by more than one player choosing to Shop. Ideally, we’d all sit there and go through the cards carefully, but that never lasted very long.
And to be fair, that problem presents itself because the card play in the game is just so great. I’m impressed with how many upgrades they created for a simple, accessible system, and how quickly strategies can diverge. The artwork looks great (except for the board’s organization), the game doesn’t outstay it’s welcome (30 minutes), and it’s a lot of fun. I’m not sure it rises above the rest of the crowd, but it definitely stands shoulder-to-shoulder.
+ Simple, fun, accessible card play
+ An impressive variety of strategies
+ Fun art and humor
- Central board is far too hard to navigate
- Gameplay can become sloppy (at the fault of the players)
Get Rich Quick is quick, fun, accessible, and full of subtle and interesting twists. An excellent first foray into the family game market for FoxMind Games.