Every round a number of gift cards are randomly drawn and displayed on the board, and every player secretly decides which gift to give to which other player. Once this is done, every player then ranks the gifts according to his (or her) own preference. He must pick the top three, plus one least preferred gift. All this is then revealed, and everyone scores points for how well chosen the gifts are. If a player has picked one of the top three preferred gifts for the recipient, they both score points. Otherwise, they both lose points. Each player has two score markers, one to keep track of points gained from giving gifts, and the other one for receiving gifts. To win, both these markers must reach the end goal.
Chen Rui (7) and Shee Yun (8). It was Chen Rui's birthday so this game was perfect for the occasion. The nine spaces at the centre of the board are for the gift cards. The number of gift cards to be used depends on the number of players. The nicely-wrapped-up-gift marker is the giver score marker. The open-box marker is the recipient score marker.
I played with the family when we visited Meeples Cafe. It's a simple game so it was easy to teach to the children. One of the selling points of the game is that it would trigger discussions and revelations about your friends. E.g. oh I didn't know you like this, or oh I didn't know you hate this, or gosh you have weird tastes. I didn't expect these to apply in our game, since we are a family living under the same roof. But they did. It is partly because of the variety of gifts in the game, which put us in situations which we have never encountered before. E.g. a gift yacht. How would I know if my daughter would like a yacht? The topic never came up over dinner!
The fun comes from not knowing your fellow players well enough. You make discoveries, you get to know each other better. The fun can also come from knowing your fellow players too well. One gift that came up in our game was advanced driving lessons. Now I've always teased my wife Michelle's that her driving is aggressive. She insists that she is just attentive and she knows what she is doing, and she always knows what she wants to do next, unlike many other drivers who are slow, clumsy and distracted on the road. My first thought when I saw advanced driving lessons was this was the perfect gift for her! But she would completely disagree. And because we both knew this topic so well, we had to guess what the other was going to do. We both wanted me to give her the right gift, so that we would both score, but should she make it her favourite gift because she knew I'd pick that for her? Or should she not pick it because she trusted that I knew she wouldn't like it? This additional history that we brought to the game added a twist for us.
Michelle and my scores were quite extreme. I had a high giver score, but a low recipient score, which means I often picked the best gifts for others, but I didn't often get what I truly liked. That's sad. My family doesn't understand me! Michelle on the other hand gave lousy gifts but received all the things that she liked. Life can be so unfair. In constrast, Shee Yun and Chen Rui's scores were well balanced, and they came first and second place.
My (green) giver score marker was in the lead...
... but my recipient score marker was way way way behind.
This is a get-to-know-you game, very suitable for playing with new friends. It works for old friends too. It's quite simple to play, so it works as a family game, as a party game, and as a casual game with casual players, even non-players. The fun comes from both getting to know your friends better, as well as from shared past histories. The simple game mechanisms fade into the background, and the personal touches come to the front.