Roel V
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In this point-by-point review I give an overview of what I think are strengths and weaknesses of this game. I hope you find it helpful!

The Positive:

(+) The game tells a story which feels real. The mechanics make total sense (you grow up, study, get a job, buy stuff, develop a relationship, undertake projects, ... When you go for a well paid job, you need to invest more time and effort into your professional life and when you try to combine too many things at once, you are prone to stress). The projects you can try to achive, the things the game allows you to buy, the partners you can match up with - they are all really funny and nice, and it doesn't take too much imagination to see a whole new story coming together every time you play.

(+) Mechanically, the game allows you to do some minor engine building by combining the right cards (if you go for a creative job, it helps to engage in an inspiring relationship with somebody who shares ideas with you and to invest in creative activities and items. The fact that you can 'grow' in projects makes thematic sense and gives players some feeling of progress

(+) Some players may live a little longer than others (mainly those who have taken care of their health and players who have avoided too much stress in their lives). The end game is original and also makes thematic sense. More often than not, most players will drop out of the game at the same time.

(+) Very colorful and cheerful components, matching the theme - the second edition is an improvement in this regard.

(+) The theme of this game ('creating and managing a fantasy live') appeals to a broad audience. Playing this game is not too difficult, making it accessible, also for players who are not familiar with heavy euro-gaming.


The negative:

(-) The biggest problem I have with this game, is that despite the broad audience the theme aims to, I'm afraid very few players would really 'love' this game. For non-gamers, the different card types and actions will quickly become overwhelming and the game will probably take too long to play for them. They tend to lose the bigger picture of playfully building up a life, in stead concerning them with with differences in card types, numbers in the left or the right colomn, symbols, tracks, .... When that happens the whole joyful thematic story collapses and the only real feature which lured them into opening up to play a euro-style boardgame (namely: 'we'll just have some fun building the life you always wanted'!) just disappears. For more experienced gamers, the mechanics are too simple and they will require more of a challenge to keep them interested until the end.

(-) The game might get a little repetitive after a while as you keep trying to run the same engine you are building. Players with a high salary job will need to invest in material things as they will have little time left to do other stuff, players which are poor will have more time to spend on project. This dynamic seldom changes during the game. All in all this game probably takes a little too long for its own good. For a lighthearted and slightly repetitive game, a playtime of about 100 minutes (including explaining the game) is probably a little too much.

(-) There is some luck involved in cards which become available: sometimes they will match your game, sometimes they won't. Be a little flexible and enjoy the ride anyhow.

Conclusion:
This joyful game has all the ingredients to deliver on its promise to provide an accessible and joyful experience which brings friends around the gaming table to tell an 'interactive' story embarking on a crazy adventure. The art is colorful and funny, the mechanics are more or less thematically grounded, the cards are well designed. However, despite all that, the game fails to deliver on that promise: Explaining the different cards and all their small gameplay variations to non-experienced players is already pretty daunting, making 'The Pursuit of Happiness' not the ideal gateway game I hoped it would be. When the game starts, your less experienced fellow players will quickly stop telling the story of their virtual live and become somewhat overwhelmed by all the simple (but many different!) gameplay elements. At that point the game starts to falter: players lose the joy of just trying out that crazy project to start sumo-wrestling, but in stead just select the right card with the right symbols and numbers to match their other cards, uncaring about the thematic background. When the game loses its 'party-game'-style storytelling charm, there is not enough left here gameplay-wise to make for an interesting game experience: the core of this game (basic worker placement and very basic engine building) is too easy and gets repetitive too quickly. This way the game risks alienating gamers and non-gamers alike, which is a real shame, because I feel there was some great potential here to get gamers and non-gamers around the table for a mutually shared fun gaming experience. We have tried to solve this problem by adding even more thematic options using the KS promocards set, but this made things only worse (more cards and more little gameplay variations overwhelming unexperienced players even more, not adding anything to the thematic story).

The Verdict:

6,2 / 10

Approximate gaming time:
About 30 min/player - but note that explaining this game also takes some time!

Tips for those going in:
(*) I feel the only way to really enjoy this game, is to experience it as an interactive story. Urge your fellow players to use their imagination and tell the story of the life their building! Try not to lapse into dry euro-style engine-optimizing strategies detached from the thematic story, because this is clearly not an aspect in which this game outshines the others! Just go with the flow and embark on crazy adventures which would be less obvious in real life, see what happens and enjoy that experience!
(*) In most cases a demanding job will leave very little time left to undertake point-scoring opportunities. However, you will have a lot of money: use this to optimize your score/life by investing in expensive items which generate points. Partners and jobs often match: partners often ensuring a steady income of resources required for work - but partners also require time, eating away on your action potential.
(*) Retirement from a high level job can be lucrative: a pretty decent pension and lots of free time. However, do make sure you can handle maintenance of your expensive gear for the rest of your life. (Gameplay-wise, the right cards need to show up for this, and this involves some luck of the draw).
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Dustin Crenshaw
United States
Kentucky
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I wish I could play this at 20 minutes per player! I would have kept it
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Roel V
Belgium
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SeerMagic wrote:
I wish I could play this at 20 minutes per player! I would have kept it


You might actually be right, 20 min/player is too optimistic. 30 Min/player would probably be more realistic. I'll edit this information in the first post.
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kos blaat
Netherlands
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rough estimate 1 hour per person.
 
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