Reviewed by Hannah Chan
My family and I love board games. They’re perfect for family time and we take them everywhere with us, to stay with family or when camping for example and we’re always on the look out for good games that can be played and enjoyed by all of us. The children are 4, 8 and 11 and were looking forward to a family game night so when this game arrived they were very excited. The box looks great and is very inviting to children as well as adults.
Our first impressions of The Good Life Game was that it looks like a game of Monopoly but with a twist. Instead of learning to buy and sell property, charge rent and have the most amount of money to win this game ends with you becoming *self sufficient*, but basically you still have to buy, sell and take items from others in order to win. The game is for 4 players so I teamed up with the youngest as there are 5 of us.
The board and pieces are made from good quality, tough card and held up well over the few times we played and still looks brand new. The cards were well packaged and the wooden chickens, pigs and hay bales are the cutest! I did have to stop my 4 year old disappearing with the tiny wheelbarrows though as they were the perfect size for his toy people.
The game is very easy to set up and very quick to pick up. The rules are simple once you know them, the only thing that threw me was that it doesn’t mention anywhere in the instructions that you are to use the tiny wheelbarrows as anything other than little counters to move yourself around the board but in one of the instructions, it mentions having items in the barrow. We read and read the instructions and couldn’t find any other reference to the so continued using them as basic pieces to move around the board rather than to collect things in.
Like Monopoly, it is a long game so I recommend making sure the family are ready to be at the board for a good hour or more playing this game and it takes a few rounds to actually get going. We did love that you could collect what you needed for your little allotment and even trade items for other items, it was a really nice twist. Plus you learn about problems faced by farmers along the way and get an understanding of where your food comes from which is very important.
There are two sets of cards with the game, you pick these up when you land on the corresponding square on the board. One set has quiz questions on it, which to be honest the 4 year old just picked a, b or c because they were multiple choice but it engaged the older two and gave them something to think about which brings in the educational aspect of the game, the hubby and I even learnt a few things too!
The other set of cards were Green Fingers cards and were more things that had happened with either penalties or prizes, fines for letting your postman get stung by your bees or a free crop of your choice for making award winning cider. These were fun and well varied, they were very useful in keeping the game moving at a good pace. The children enjoyed the antics of the escapee chickens as they compared them to our own which added a little more magic to the game.
We were also a little confused about the allotment for rent on the corners, I assume we pay the rent to gain the extra piece of allotment but it doesn’t really explain whether landing on the square makes that compulsory to purchase, but it’s very easy to play and assume that landing on the square doesn’t make it compulsory to purchase. The rules say if you land on the square pick up an allotment card but the board says you have to pay, if you cannot pay I assume you leave it until your next time round which could be several rounds before you have enough to actually purchase when landing on it.
Overall it is a great game, it’s well made and all the pieces used in play are perfect, having the haybales made from wood too is a nice touch. It has the educational aspect with the questions and learning about what you might need to grow and keep to be self sufficient. I would recommend this game for those who love similar games and have the time to spend playing it properly. Plus it was recommended by Prince Charles himself, that is very high praise!
The reason it lost two stars was purely on long term playability. Once we knew the answers to the questions (We shuffled the cards after each game so got the same ones sometimes) they lost their value a little and the length of the game meant the children got a little fed up if we were an hour in and no one was even close to winning. This is more to do with concentration spans though I think and adults could probably play the game much quicker. They got a little disheartened knowing that it seemed there was no end so on two occasions we just set a timer and added up what we had to declare a winner and call it a night. Also because of the two bits we were a little confused about (the wheelbarrow and the allotment rent).
We will play this game again and it does teach the lessons of farming and where food comes from as well as patience and maths skills. We had many *wow really* moments too with the question cards! From a family who grows food and keep chickens, we recommend this game for anyone like minded or not!