I have a huge pile of games in my collection -- should this one stay on the heap or go out to the trash? Let's take it for a spin!
(Image by maydaygames)
Garbage Day is a dexterity game from Mayday Games. I was already a fan of theirs from Get Bit! and their card sleeves, and I'd backed their Kickstarter campaign for Viceroy. So when this game hit Kickstarter, I hopped on board, as I didn't have many (or any?) dexterity games in my collection.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this game is the packaging -- the "normal" version is a green plastic trash can; I got the limited edition "shiny silver" version. Unlike most games with unusual packaging, this one serves a purpose -- it is actually part of the game! The lid is inverted and placed on the can to give you a place to stack cards. So while it isn't the easiest to store with other games, it's clever and more than justifies its existence, and will definitely catch your eye. It does have another drawback, though -- the can isn't large enough for more than one of the expansions. That problem (and the storage problem) can be solved by putting everything into an appropriately-sized box, such as a shoe box. Or you can put the cards into a deck box, and buy a stuffed Oscar the Grouch to live in the can.
Game play is fairly simple. On your turn, you replenish your hand if necessary, then choose a card to play. Icons on the cards tell you if you can add them to the garbage immediately, stash them in your "room", or put them in somebody else's "room" (possibly triggering another effect). If you have too much garbage in your room (as indicated by point values on the cards), you must immediately "clean your room" by stacking them, one at a time, on the garbage can.
(Image by landofhov)
In another unique feature, the cards have two small holes near the top, which cannot be blocked by cards underneath, ensuring that the cards spread out to a degree that would impress Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout. Inevitably, cards will eventually fall. In theory, people aren't eliminated until they get a certain number of cards. In practice, though, unless a card falls by carelessness early in the game, once the mess reaches ShelSilversteinian levels, lots of cards will fall at once, all but guaranteeing elimination. It's pretty unnerving to see the entire pile quiver as somebody tries to add a card.
There is a small amount of strategy possible -- play cards directly to the garbage can early on before the stack gets too ugly, but then start stashing them in your room when it gets too scary -- and the "Make Mischief" cards let you heap some "take that" on other players (e.g., play Paper/Rock/Scissors; the loser must clean the other player's room), but the luck of the draw may just force you to keep playing on yourself.
I finally had a chance to play this today during my weekly lunchtime game session at the company across the street, as we'd decided to try some dexterity games. Late in the game and afterwards, the other three players said that it was a lot of fun and they enjoyed it. However, I lost count of how many times I had to remind them whose turn it was; given that turns go very quickly unless people are "cleaning their room", this indicated to me that they weren't very engaged. Indeed, the game is kind of boring until you get a decent pile of cards on the stack. I think that the pace of the game would be faster on repeat plays, once people are more used to their (limited) options, and have a better feel for how far the pile can go before it starts to get dangerous.
This game also suffers from player elimination -- when somebody causes the inevitable collapse, they're out of the game, and since the stack usually shrinks considerably, they're probably going to be waiting a while. However, the first person to mention that he liked the game did so after he'd already been eliminated, so there's an element of fun watching other people trying to add cards, knowing you don't have to do it yourself anymore.
The cards themselves have drawings of various disgusting forms of trash, with various point values. The values seemed completely arbitrary, with no correlation to how disgusting the garbage bits are (but in hindsight, I should look to see if they might correlate to how hard that garbage might be to stack), so the theme doesn't really come through. I bought all of the expansions that were available during the Kickstarter campaign, but only played with one of them (because, as previously mentioned, only one will fit in the can). While the different types of garbage won't affect the game, the different "Make Mischief" cards might actually add some variety, but not enough to significantly change the game.
While the game was fairly enjoyable, it seemed a little slow. And it really suffered in comparison to the table that was playing Rhino Hero -- they were up on their feet, laughing and cheering, and played 4-5 times while we only played once, and they seemed to be having a lot more fun.
This is a decent dexterity game, which I definitely prefer to Jenga, but I don't think it's as fun as Rhino Hero, Sorry! Sliders, or even Mayday Games's Bling Bling Gemstone. I'll hang onto this one, as it's different enough from other games in my collection and visually interesting enough to hold onto, but it's not one that I would recommend that people run out and buy.
My experience playing the game was very similar. Thanks for letting me know about Rhino Hero!