My days of writing reviews are long gone, partly because there are now so many people on here who write reviews so much better than I do and partly because I don’t want to feel obliged to review a game I may not want to play in the first place. So when the designer of Gettalife contacted me and asked me if I would review his game, my initial thoughts were to decline because it didn’t look like the type of game me or my group would normally play / like. In the end, I relented because, well, I’m a gamer and I still get that thrill of opening and playing a new game, particularly if it’s one that may be relatively unknown.
Gettalife is a card game, the majority of the cards being ‘Life Goals’ which come in four areas (suits) - wealth, knowledge, relationships & experience - each of which come in four levels (blue being the one of least value – and most frequent - through orange and silver and finally gold of which there is only one of each suit). Each card has its own title – ‘Dive with a Whale’ (experience), ‘Move into my Mansion’ (Wealth), ‘Meet the love of my life’ (Relationship) etc – which fits in with the theme but even though the rules encourage you to call the card by its title it’s very hard not to refer to something as ‘silver wealth’ or ‘blue knowledge’.
The idea is to play these cards in the form of a grid – one column for each suit and one row for each level. The restriction is that you can’t initially play a card onto a higher level until you have already laid the card of the corresponding suit of the level below it.. Once you have one card on a level then you can play any card of that level regardless of whether or not you have laid the card from that suit at the level below. For example, if you have no silver cards on the table then you cannot play the silver relationship until you have the copper relationship in play. Once you play the silver relationship, you can play the silver knowledge even though you might not have the copper knowledge out.
Each player has five cards and on their turn they draw a card and, either play a card to the table or discard one. In addition to the life goal cards, there are a number of event cards that either enhance the score of your own grid or allow you to impact the cards on the other players grids. E.g. the wealth hardknocks card will prevent a player playing any wealth cards until they play the corresponding ‘Silver Spoon’ event card. The legend card provides a bonus score if you have completed all of a particular level while the Knight is played on an opponent if they have reached gold level in a life goal and gains both of you additional points. There are also a few ‘take that’ cards such as Death and Satan Sinner which will lose you points at the end of the game if you have them.
The game comes with a DVD (and on-line video) which explains the rules and, to be honest it’s a good job it does because the written rules are amongst the worst I’ve come across. When they include sentences like “The game starts in the same way as all card games do with the start player drawing and playing a card” then you wonder if the designer has played any card game other than rummy because this clearly isn’t true for lots of traditional games such as Bridge or Cribbage let alone today’s modern card games. The written rules have a considerable number of holes in them (e.g. when exactly does a round end) some of which are cleared up by the video. However, there are still one or two basic clarifications required and, in any event, the written rules should still be complete and comprehensive as it is not practical to look something up in a 10 minute video when you’re half way through a game and need an answer to a specific question.
Once you get past the rules questions, the games flows quickly with each players turn taking a few seconds as it is a simple case of drawing and playing a card. One of the reasons it plays quickly is that there is little decision making in the game. Many of the cards in your hand are often unplayable as the right pre-requisites are not in play and usually your choice is pretty obvious. In fact, in our first game, one player was hardly able to play any cards until towards the end of the game and simply spent their time picking up a card and discarding one.
My preference in gaming is at the medium-heavy end of the scale (Age of Steam is my favourite game) so, as I expected, Gettalife was a little too light for my tastes. It would be classed as a ‘filler’ in our group but, to be honest, there are many other games of a similar weight that I find much more interesting. Having said that, I’m struggling to think of a game to compare it directly to and it did provide a reasonably new perspective from other things we’ve played. If you like fairly light, quick card games with a bit of a ‘screw you’ factor and a big slice of luck, you may enjoy this particularly if you want to try and get into the theme rather than calling cards orange or gold. However, while the game can be reasonable fun it is too luck dependant for my liking and I would rate it a 4 or 5 out of 10.
If you are interested you can watch the video and order the game at http://www.funbraincardgames.com/