Game Critique — Add Up

Created by fellow classmates Jordan and Jamie, Add Up focuses on the game aspect “elimination,” where 3–5 players aim to be the last one standing. In Add Up, players are given five cards facedown initially. Each turn, the players vie to not flip the card with the lowest value. Otherwise, they lose a life. Lose three times, and that player’s eliminated.

The game, however, throws in an interesting twist: players may look at one of their cards prior to flipping it, and they choose whether to play that card, save it and play another without looking at it, or exchange it for a new card from the deck that they cannot see and must play.

Once two players are left, the two of them flip all the cards they own. The player with the higher value wins the whole game.

Overall, this game has a fun element of risk, chance and miniature deck building. Players must choose to either win in the short term (playing all high-value cards) or hope for a strong end game (keep all high-value cards for the final two players).

The limited amount of lives, however, keeps this element of choice dynamic; players cannot simply stick with one way of play, else they risk elimination as other players adjust their strategy. Players must choose which high-value cards are worth playing or keeping. The same goes for low-value cards, for having too many low-value cards may jeopardize a player in the final round.

To add another layer to the game, the life tokens can be given additional functions. Rather than players having three life tokens, players can have seven. In addition, life tokens can be spent to perform more actions. Losing all tokens, however, will still result in an immediate loss.

With the life tokens, players can choose to perform three additional actions.

Spending one token will allow the player to give away any of their cards to another player. This can only be done after another player has performed an action that reduces their facedown five to a facedown four. For example, if Player 1 chooses to exchange one card for one in the deck, Player 2 can spend a life token to instead give Player 1 one of their cards. This “gift” can also occur at the end of a round, when players would usually draw a card. The receiver cannot look at the received card until the start of the next round.

Spending two tokens will allow the player to take one card from any other player. This can be done whenever the acting player is reduced to having four facedown cards, including when said player wants to exchange a card with the deck or at the end of a round. The taker cannot look at the taken card until the start of the next round.

Spending four tokens will allow the player to remove one life token from any other player. This can be done at any time during the game. A player with only one token left can be forced to lose due to this option.

Adding this element adds another layer of choice for players: should they save their life tokens to outlast their opponents, or should players use their life tokens to cheat their opponents? At the same time, players may try to trick opponents into taking low-value cards, or give low-value cards away to other players.

Ultimately, this new game component aims to add another layer of strategy to Add Up. Players had to mostly contend with their cards in the original game. This added component adds more interaction between the players themselves.