<< Creepy | Martin Luther King Jr. Day >>
Games: Get The Goods

Many of the games I picked up when I first started my collection eventually wound up on the back of the shelf, superceded by the better games I later purchased as my tastes got more discriminating. Back there amongst the chaff sat Get The Goods, a game I bought ages ago after reading a GAMES Magazine endorsement (they named it their "Family Card Game of the Year" in 1997). Having not played it in years, I'm not sure what possessed me to grab it on the way to the bar this evening, but somehow it wound up in my bag of tricks. And when we wanted to play a quick game for four people, Get The Goods fit the bill admirably. Even better, I rediscovered a terrific little gem: a game that's simple to learn, easy to play, and a whole lot of fun.

The Get the Goods deck contains four different types of cards: Luxury Cards, Wild Cards, x2 Cards and $ Cards. The $ Cards are set aside, the remaining cards are shuffled, and each player is dealt a starting hand of four. The $ Cards are then shuffled into the draw pile, the top three cards are flipped face-up for all to see, and play begins.

The premise: each player is an obscenely wealthy individual without a care in the world. Well, they each have one care: they are all obsessed with having more Luxury items that their fellow aristocrats: more Casinos, more Real Estate, more Yachts, etc. To show the accumulation of such gewgaws, there are nine cards for each of ten different Luxury items (the three mentioned above, plus Stocks, Gold, Cash, Antiques, Oil, Art and Jewelry). On each turn a player gets three Actions, which he can spend in one of four ways. For a single Action, a player may play a card from his hand to the table. If playing a Luxury that he already has at least one of, the player simply adds the card to his existing pile. He may also play a card face-down as a "Keystone Card." (The first card in any pile of Luxuries must be a face-down Keystone Card. This card can be of any type - it does not have to match the cards that eventually go atop it -- and does not count towards the total numbr of cards in that pile.) If either of the three face-up card is a Luxury Card, a player may take it into his hand as an Action. He may also take a face-up Wild or x2 Card, but doing so requires two Actions. And, lastly, the player may opt to take the top face-down card from the draw pile at a cost of two Actions.

The $ Cards serve as ticks in the game's clock. Whenever a face-up card is claimed by a player, the top card from the draw pile is revealed to take its place; if this card is a $ Card, it is set aside and another card drawn. Also, when a player chooses to take the top card from the draw pile and wind up with a $ Card, he sets that aside and draws again. After the fourth $ Card is revealed, a scoring round takes place. For each of the ten Luxuries, the player who has the most receives 3 points, and the player who has the second most gets 1 point. If someone is the only person with a certain type of Luxury, he gets both first- and second-place points, i.e., 4. After all the points have been distributed, the game resumes. When the seventh $ Card arrives another scoring round takes place; and after the tenth and last $ Card appears the game ends with a final scoring round (where each card remaining in a player's hand earns him -1).

The two special cards also spice things up a bit. A Wild Card can be player as any type of Luxury Card - perfect for inching ahead of another player who is vying for the same commodity. And you can play a x2 Card to any of your piles, although doing so prevents you from playing any more cards to that pile for the remainder of the game. The advantage of the x2 Card: if you get any points for a pile containing a x2 Card, those points are doubled. (So getting first-place for a x2 pile will net you six points instead of three).

This game couldn't be simpler - all you really do on a turn is draw cards or play cards or both - but is remarkably fun. At first everyone tends to specialize in his own Luxuries, but by the midpoint the rivalries begin as everyone starts trying to horn in on other players' action. The trick is to pick your battles carefully - get into too many grudge matches and you'll get whomped, but you can't win unless you get into at least a few. The use of the Keystone Cards is a great little mechanism for sowing anxiety, since no one knows which cards are face-down and therefore out of play. (This means, for example, that I have no way of knowing if there are nine or eight or even six Casino Cards truly up for grabs). With a playing time of only 30-40 minutes, I don't think I've ever played a game of Get the Goods singly -- after the first game the urge to play again is almost always overwhelming.

Get the Goods (also know as "Reibach & Co") can be purchased from Funagain.com.

Posted on January 20, 2002 to Games