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Block Happy Kickstarter Review


Quick Look: Block Happy

Designer: Sam Armes & John Ward
Artist: Sam Armes & John Ward
Publisher: Self-Published
Year Published: (upcoming 2020)
No. of Players: 2-5
Ages: 6+
Playing Time: 15-45 min.

From the publisher:

Block Happy is a strategic, emotionally powered card game that's daring, different, and flat out fun. It’s the only game where you play it and feel it, because even though you’re playing a card game, you’re actually playing with your real emotions, which drives the gameplay.

Play with 70 unique emotional creature cards, and their various actions, to take turns showing, playing and finding emotions. The first player to seize all the happiness wins. This may sound simple, but other players want to take your happiness away, and so a tense and funny ‘battle of emotion’ begins, where you must keep control of your emotions, as well as controlling how other players feel too.

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

WARNING: This is a preview of Block Happy. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change. Block Happy is launching on Kickstarter on October 15, 2019.

I received a prototype copy of Block Happy for the purposes of this pre-Kickstarter review, but the opinions here are my own.

Review:

Overview:
Are you feeling gloomy, stressed, or cross? Maybe you're hoping to turn your day around and finally feel merry, content, and joyful? It sounds like you need to spend half an hour with your friends and family playing Block Happy to see if you can round up more happiness! The sweet illustrations and funky hexagonal cards may make you smile, but will your family enjoy this game? Read on to see what my friends and family liked about Block Happy.



Components and Setup:
As you continue reading this review, please keep in mind that I have a prototype of the game, not the final version! Word from the publisher is that the cards will be linen (instead of cardstock), the box will be a different size and shape and may have a magnetic closure, and the game will come with full-size, full-color posters and player aids. One major issue that my players had with the game was keeping track of which cards did which actions, and it is possible that having the full-size poster would have been a big help. You can check out the Kickstarter to see more of what the finished game will look like, so I won't be commenting today on component quality.


Block Happy is a card game that consists of 70 individually unique hexagonal cards with have cheerful, modern, somewhat Asian-inspired artwork on them to make them look like a three-dimensional box character. (Similar, slightly simpler "box" cards can be found in games like Kitty Paw Valentine.)

Set up is fairly quick:
  • Remove the 7 Happy emotion cards from the deck, and shuffle the rest
  • Deal 7 cards from the deck to each player and give each player 1 face-up Happy card
  • Shuffle the remaining Happy cards into the deck and put it face-down as the Hidden Pile of Emotions
You'll want to make sure players have access to the player guides and take a minute to help them get familiar with the cards. Having 70 unique cards makes the game feel very special, but can also be overwhelming to new players.

It's also important to help players figure out how to align the cards in their hand - the upper-left edge will have the card type and unique name; the lower-left edge will have the (somewhat hard to read) action instructions. Taking a few minutes to get familiar with the cards will help the players be more comfortable with gameplay. I definitely found that the more familiar players are with the full deck of cards and the emotions/characters found here, the more they enjoyed the game.



Game Play and Mechanics:
The goal of Block Happy is to find all the happy! If you can collect all 7 of the Happy emotion cards (or 6 Happy cards and the Tickled Pink card), you win.

Teaching the very basics of the game is pretty quick (once players are comfortable with the card layout): on your turn, play one emotion card (or possibly a pair, or a set of five... in special cases) from your hand, take the action spurred on by that emotion, and then draw back up to having seven in hand.


The depth of gameplay comes from the wide variety of actions that can happen depending on the emotion. There are angry attacks (frustrated, annoyed, outraged), controlling emotions (optimistic, curious, flirty, cheeky, bored), emotional powers (magical, overjoyed, jealous, glum), simple emotions (surprised, funny, scared, angry, sad), and more. Most of the actions let you take happiness or other cards from the other players, or to block their attacks on you.

You can take a special action if you have a matching pair of simple actions, or an even bigger action if you have the Rainbow - one of each of the simple actions. Many of the cards also include a silly action to take that doesn't affect gameplay, like give a high five or pat someone gently. The kids I played with enjoyed these little out-of-game touches.

As you play Block Happy, you'll learn the actions associated with each card and you'll be able to choose the card or cards to play that will give you the greatest advantage in the game, remembering that your ultimate goal is to wind up with all seven Happy cards. Planning a turn or two ahead is sometimes possible, but most often you'll be scrambling to recover from the actions of the other players!



The Good:
Even in its prototype form, Block Happy is a very graphically polished game, which stands to reason: the designers both come from a background in the London graphic design industry. The logo, the prototype design of the rules, the characters of the 70 unique cards, and the promotional materials are all very bright, eye-catching, and professional.


The basic rules (you're trying to get 7 happiness; on your turn, play a card and then draw one) are super quick to explain, and the flow of the game is easily understandable to casual game players.

Block Happy is over-the-top cute! I really appreciate the 70 different emotion cards and all the charming, unique illustrations. The hexagonal cards are different and draw people in just to ask what we're playing. Everyone was captivated by the idea of personifying emotions and a game where the goal was to get happy!



The Bad:
Those adorable hexagonal cards aren't the most practical. They are a little tough to hold, cumbersome to shuffle, impossible to sleeve, etc. Beyond the shape, it's also hard to read the action text in the lower left, largely because the font is small and the text is tilted (to help with the three-dimensional look). That kept us referring to the player aids and rules, and ours were not the final form, so they were hard for us to access/read. Hopefully, the full-size poster takes care of that issue for folks in the final game.


For a game that's about getting happy, there's an awful lot of take-that. The kids I played with loved the cards and illustrations but many weren't pleased with the actual gameplay because so much of the game revolves around figuring out how to steal happiness from each other. The game also tends to drag if people don't have the right combination of cards to get ALL seven happiness cards in front of them at once. Surprisingly, I might be more likely to play this game with older players rather than with kids, or (as my teen son suggested) we might try playing Block Happy in teams so kids at least feel like they've got someone on their side.



Players Who Like:
Block Happy is a great little game for anyone who is drawn in by cute, highly polished, cartoon-style graphics in games like Circus Puppy or Kitty Paw. It's also good for players who like a lot of back and forth, blocking actions, and take-that in their games from games like Fluxx and Munchkin.

Final Thoughts:
The endearing emotions personified on quirky cards drew us into the world of Block Happy! Gameplay was quick to pick up, though reading or looking up the individual actions bogged us down sometimes. Cheerful out-of-game actions (give them a thumbs up!) add extra spunk and personality, but the heart of the game is to steal the Happy from each other, so this game might not go over well with younger kids or groups looking for a kind and gentle game. The amount of care and attention lavished over Block Happy by its designers is very encouraging and I wish them well on an emotion-filled Kickstarter!



Check out Block Happy on:

              

On KICKSTARTER now. Campaign ends November 14, 2019.



Alexa Chaplin- Reviewer

My name is Alexa: I'm a life-long game player and homeschooling mom to two awesome kids. I've loved board games since my early days playing Scrabble and Gin Rummy with my grandmother, and life only got more interesting when I married a Battletech enthusiast and fellow game lover. We've played games with our kids since they were small, and I helped start a thriving homeschool co-op where we have weekly sessions of board games with kids.  In a family with kids raised on Catan and Pandemic, life is sure to be fun! You may run into me on Twitter, BoardGameGeek, and other social media as MamaGames. Be sure to say hi!

See Alexa's reviews HERE.
Block Happy Kickstarter Review Block Happy Kickstarter Review Reviewed by MamaGames - Alexa C. on October 15, 2019 Rating: 5

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