25th July 2021
Sunday gaming on Board Game Arena continued with our next game.
If Esther Rantzen ever made board games, it probably wouldn't be this one, for starters, there's no dog that says 'sausages'!
Caveat: We have only ever played That's Life! digitally online.
What's in a game?
That's Life! is all about travelling along a route consisting of a series of randomly placed hexagonal tiles, where the bad ones outweigh the good ones, generally trying to manage those bad situations with a bit of luck and occasionally encountering generosity or greed. Maybe that really is what life is all about?
How's it play?
On to play
The goal in That's Life! is to journey to the game's end, acquiring those scoring tiles as you go while trying to avoiding those minus tiles. How's this done?
Play continues until all players' meeples have crossed the finish line.
Each lucky tile acquired by a player can now used to convert the score from a minus tile into a plus, then all points are tallied, highest score wins.
There's no getting away from that fact that this is a roll and move game, it may give you 2 or 3 choices from that roll, but it still is what it is.
That's not to say it's all bad, usually at least 1 of the 2 or 3 choices a player is given is meaningful.
Finding a way to linger on a plus tile until other players have to leave (Or getting off the tile before other players even arrive!) will earn victory points and players will obviously also want to avoid the minus tiles. However, minus tiles sort of reverses this, players will look to linger on a bad tile in the hope that another player will land it, allowing them to potentially escape. Furthermore, minus tiles outnumber plus ones 18-to-8; that's more than double, landing on them is inevitable, so is picking them up.
This is what makes the lucky tiles such gamechangers with their ability to mitigate negative penalties, if a player has a lucky tile in their stack, suddenly that big minus tile becomes an asset, provided of course someone doesn't steal the lucky tile in the meantime.
All of this is also largely dependant on what other players do, because they'll also be trying to linger on good tiles and escaping bad ones.
That's Life! is a very easy game to learn and comprehend. I feel that it will have crossover appeal to non-gamers but for us, it felt a little too light and a little too luck-based; because players invariably end up collecting more negative tiles than positive, it ends up lending the game a negative feel - even though generally it will affect all player equally (Maybe life is like that?). It meant we didn't find That's Life a satisfying experience or a compelling game.
I play, I paint.