Reviewed by Melody Floyde
As a family we love playing games together, and have been playing even more games than usual at the moment due to being under lockdown, so we were delighted to be asked to review The Good Life board game and were very excited to try a new game.
When I heard about the Good Life game my mind immediately went to The Good Life television programme that I used to watch with my parents in the 1980’s, and actually the game is based on a similar theme with the aim being to become self-sufficient by filling your garden and allotment with crops and animals and earning lots of haybales (currency), it sounds idyllic! The game is for 2-4 players, aged 7+ years.
When the game arrived I was very impressed with the quality of it. It comes in a really sturdy box with lots of pictures of the game and also, impressively, quotes from others who have played the game, including Prince Charles and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall – so we knew we were in good company! On opening the box I wasn’t disappointed, the playing board folds out to four times the size of the box and is really colourful and sturdy. The board looks a bit like a monopoly board but with fruits and vegetables instead of property, and actually the game isn’t dissimilar to monopoly, but more about that later. Inside the box as well as the board, there was a set of rules; lots of wooden pieces (hay bales, pigs and chickens) all in a handy resealable bag (which in my opinion is always a bonus); four coloured plastic wheelbarrows; four allotments; a dice; various types of cards and a sheet of small crop cards which needed to be pressed out.
Before playing the game my mission was to read the, very comprehensive, instructions of how to play so that I could set it all up and show my family what to do. I found the instructions very clear on how to set up the game ready for play and this was quick and easy to do. There were also good clear instructions on how to play the game and what all the different squares on the board and cards meant so we started off with confidence.
As mentioned earlier, the game is a bit like a gardening monopoly. The aim being to travel around the board, using a coloured wheelbarrow as your playing piece, and buy all sorts of crops, animals and equipment with the aim of being the first player to fill all of the squares in your garden and allotment, thus becoming self-sufficient. You also need to ensure you earn some money (or in this case haybales) so you can afford to keep going. You do this by landing on the various squares around the board and deciding whether to buy or sell crops and animals. There are also other squares to land on such as “Green Fingers” where you pick a “Green Fingers” card and then have to do what it says, which usually involves either winning haybales or having to pay them to the bank or other players. There are also “natural selection” squares, which when landed on means you have to pick a “natural selection” card and choose to ask one of the other players the question on the card. If they get it right, then they win a haybale. If they get it wrong they don’t win anything. My children really enjoyed trying to answer the questions, and I was amazed at how much they know about animals and environmental matters. Embarrassingly they got many more right than we did! One sore point for us, whilst playing the game, was that for some of us it was nearly impossible to get an allotment, which is critical to being able to win the game, and the rules suggest you should get one as soon as possible. There are two allotment squares to land on and apparently there are some elusive green finger cards that will give you the opportunity to buy one too. Unfortunately during our game, only one of us managed to actually get an allotment early on in the game, so whilst my partner and youngest son, who had teamed up, were doing great at filling their allotment, my older son and I were still trying to land on the elusive allotment square for most of the game. It was no surprise who won the game! Another tiny niggle was that the wheelbarrow pieces were very precarious and we kept losing our poor animals out of them, but then I guess real life wheelbarrows are also a bit wobbly!
Overall, we really enjoyed this game and found it great fun. It was a little longer than a lot of our games, we were playing for well over an hour, but my sons were engaged throughout the whole game which was great. They really enjoyed answering the questions and buying the different crops. The Good Life game is a really good quality, fun family game and I also like that it had some educational aspects too. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for a great family board game for children aged 7+.
This product is available to buy here.