Have a nice LIFE: The game
Two years into the hobby, my wife and I have amassed an obscene amount of games. Naturally, only about 10% of the collection hits the table regularly, and the Rise of the Runelords base set for Pathfinder: The Adventure Card Game is probably the most popular of the bunch.
But, alas, we hit a wall on Adventure Deck 5 — those damn giants are proving to be too much for our plucky ranger and cleric. So, as is usually the case, we hit up our friendly local game store to find a new game.
Obviously, we don’t go in blind. I’m constantly reading the Boardgames subreddit to see what the community is playing, and one of the games that comes up often is CV. I gravitated toward it almost immediately — especially since they didn’t have a copy of Patchwork. After adding Valley of the Kings: Afterlife, a compact deckbuilder to which we were introduced by a friend, we were ready to head home.
CV, short for curriculum vitae, is basically a mish-mash of LIFE and Yahtzee. The goal of the game is to make it through early adulthood, middle age and old age with a great job, awesome life experiences and a ton of possessions. And you get those things by chucking dice up to three times per turn and trying to match the symbols on the dice to the cards on the game board. Once you purchase a card, it becomes part of your CV or one of your many life experiences.
Much like in Zombie Dice and Bang: The Dice Game there are symbols that can lock your dice and limit your options. At the beginning of the game, frowny faces are your main obstacle. Certain decisions, like having a child, may force you to lock other symbols. You can even pick up cards that enable you to turn a bad roll into something useful.
The “roll X times/match symbols” mechanic is something I’m very accustomed to at this point. My wife and I played Age of War and Roll For It to exhaustion, among others. But what separates CV from the dice-chucking pack is that every turn presents a meaningful decision. Every player has a secret objective in addition to public objectives displayed on the board. Do you go for a card that will bring you closer to your goal? Do you snag a card you think will hurt another player based on what’s already in their CV? Do you buy up a possession for easy victory points?
You’re not just tied to the symbols you roll, either. The cards you buy can net you tokens that can be used to buy additional cards. You can also pick up extra dice to roll over the course of the game. CV is also one of the few games I’ve played where you don’t always want to be the first player. Cards for each of the three stages of the game not only come out at random, but they’re pushed down a track as new cards come into play. Depending on the number of players involved, the last card on the track could be removed after each player goes, or after the last player goes. That means the first player often misses out on new cards, or a card that was on the board for too long.
While luck will always be a factor in games like these, I feel CV does enough to mitigate unlucky dice rolls and provide a good deal of strategy, though we’re still talking light strategy here. If you’ve ever wondered what LIFE would be like if it were actually a good game, pick this up.