I love to play board games; I have done since I was a child. We have regular game nights in our house and are always looking for new games to play. Whilst there are plenty of games on the market, I went for a classic game that I loved as a child – The Game of Life.
The Game of Life first came to life in 1860, so it has been around for over 160 years. There have been some changes to the game over those 160+ years to the game (the modern version that we all know and love today being around since 1960 in its various incarnations). The version I am now playing is the 2021 edition which includes invest cards and 6 different peg colours.
The Game of Life (2021 version) is a game for 2-4 players, aged 8+ with a playing time of around 1 hour. The basis of the game is that you must make life choices to succeed, to be successful and work your way around the board to win the game – it has everything from starting college, embarking on a career, deciding whether to get married and raise a family or not, property ownership and even making investments. The aim of the game is to make as much money as you possibly can once you reach retirement – it doesn’t matter who finishes first (although your retirement bonus is different depending on where you finish).
In the box:
- Game Board
- 90 cards (55 Action Cards, 20 Career Cards, 11 House Cards and 4 Invest Cards)
- 4 Cars (different colours)
- 36 Pegs (in 6 different colours)
- Money Pack
The Game of Life is not any different from a majority of board games, before you can start to play there is some quick and simple setting up to do (in our house the adults do that whilst the kids are getting their game snacks out). The spinner needs attaching to the playing board by sliding it over the corner of the board in the space provided near the start squares. The Action, Career and House cards need separating into piles and shuffled, placing them on the table in easy reach of all players. One player needs to be the Banker who separates the money and loan cheques into piles and places them in the tray attached to the spinner. Each player picks a car in the colour of their choice, receives an Invest card that matches the colour of the car and a coloured peg of any colour that is placed in one of the six holes in the car. The Banker then hands all players 250k (5x10k notes, 2x50k notes and 1x100k notes) – which is a good start in life for anybody.
Before starting, each player must choose their path in life that they want to pursue – College or Career. Choose the Career path and you will start earning money faster than if you went down the College path (you need to draw two Career cards and choose which one you want as your job, although any with a diploma symbol are jobs for college graduates only). Choose the College path and you are much more likely to get a higher paid job, although it will cost you 100k in tuition fees. Decisions, decisions.
Once you have selected your chosen path, you are ready to play The Game of Life, with the youngest player starting the game. They spin the wheel and move the resultant number of pieces on the board. As you make your way around the board you will land on different spaces that require you to do different things and make decisions. You need to stop at all the STOP spaces as this is where you make big life choices – you can graduate college – or not, decide if you want to get married, decide to grow your family and have kids, determine if you have a mid-life crisis and decide whether to retire early or continue to work. Other spaces on the board will see you getting paid every time you pass a Payday space (your salary is on your career card), yellow Action spaces see you draw an Action card where you have to read the card out loud and make a decision by choosing one of the Actions to do – this could see you receiving or giving money, land on a House space and you can decide to put your foot on the property ladder and purchase a house for you and your family (or sell one), Career spaces will let you get a job or change your job, and Invest spaces lets you place your Invest card under one of the Invest spaces on one edge of the board (numbered 1 to 10) and every time a player spins the corresponding number you get a payout from the bank and the dividends increase (you start with 10k, rising to 50k).
As you race around the board building your life, you need to gather as much money as you can by making those important life decisions, purchasing property, getting married and having kids (the more pegs in your car results in more cash at the end of the game), invest your hard-earned cash to try and make some more money and finally retirement.
Overall, we all loved this game – I think that the gameplay is just as good as I remember from my childhood. It does take a while to complete, I think we were playing for an hour or so, but it is lots of fun and with young players you get to teach them the importance of making decisions … and the consequences, good or bad, of them – starting with college or career, education or work, what is more important?
The Game of Life has gone through lots of updates and “improvements” over the years and this edition has been updated since the version I played as a child, it seems more family/child friendly – although I was disappointed to see that the plastic houses and bridges are gone, and the spinner doesn’t affix to the board in the same way (it feels less secure on the board). Invest cards have been added (I loved this new feature). Whilst the removal of the houses doesn’t change anything regarding the playability of the game, they were just a nice touch and made the game more engaging (although not having to put the houses and bridges onto the board each time before playing does save on the setting up time).
The Game of Life is a fun classic board game with plenty of enjoyment. Having to make decisions as you travel around the board really gets all players involved and enjoying themselves, from the youngest to the eldest. And the race to be successful in life and amass your fortune is very competitive.
It is great that it doesn’t matter who finishes that determined who the winner is and that once the first player reaches the end and retires the game continues until all players have retired, with retired players still receiving money from their investments and from the results of Action cards. We all loved it.
It is an excellent fun family game that provides a lot of laughter and family engagement along the way where a bit of luck and shrewd and calculated decision making determines the winner and anyone can win!
The Game of Life is a fun family game with plenty of playability, a game that will be played time and time again. A big thumbs up from all of us.
Available to buy from Amazon here.