Review – The Pursuit of Happiness

Posted on by Jesta

A Worker Placement, Resource Management game.

Title: The Pursuit of Happiness

Year Published: 2016

Designer: Adrian Abela, David Chircop

Publisher: Artipia Games

Players: 1-4

Game Time: 60-90 mins

Set-up Time: ~5 mins

Ages: 12+

Theme: Life

Mechanic: Worker Placement, Resource Management

How to win: Gain the most Long Term happiness in your life.

Game Description

We all have one common desire: the desire for happiness. As we build our life, taking steps towards the pursuit of happiness, we come closer to the realisation that happiness lies in the pursuit.

The Pursuit of Happiness is a game in which you take a character from birth and you live the life you always wanted. You take on projects, you get jobs, you buy items, you establish relationships, you raise families. The possibilities are endless…

How much will you be able to achieve in just one lifetimes?

Set Up

Put the board out and add piles of Project, Item, Activity, Job and Partner cards next to their row. (Job and Partner cards are double sided so put the cover card on the top of their decks)

Each player takes 6 Hourglasses, 2 Track Cubes and a Long Term Happiness Cube which starts on 0 points.

But 1 Track Cube on the centre of the Short Term Happiness track and the Stress Track.

Now, let’s look at that Stress track.

The area you are in determines how many Hourglasses you get each round. If you go off the track on the Red end, you die immediately and are out of the game (but still score and can win, it’s not that harsh, everyone will die eventually :)).

If you have a card with the Relax icon (a Sun with Shades) you can move one space left on the Stress track but can’t move into a different coloured section. A Good Health icon (Heart) let’s you move to the same space on the section to the left.

Shuffle the life goal cards and lay out a number equal to the number of players near the board.

Put the round marker on the space marked ‘Teen’ and cover the ‘Get Job’, ‘Start Relationship’ and ‘Overtime’ spaces on the board… you’re too young for all that right now 🙂

Deal 2 Child Trait cards to each player, they choose one and return the other. This card shows you your special ability and starting resources. Take those resources now…

The Oldest player starts…

Game Play

A round is played over 3 phases: Upkeep, Action and End Round

Upkeep Part 1 – The Board
Advance the round marker and discard all of the cards on the board then refill depending on the player count. In round 1 you don’t add Job and Partner cards to the board, and of course you don’t advance the round marker.

Due to the Job and Partner cards being double sided, you always draw from the bottom of the deck so the top card remains covered and hidden.

Upkeep Part 2 – Players
You gain or lose Hourglass Tokens for position on Stress Track.

Yellow is less stressed and more productive, give them an extra Hourglass marker.

Gain 1 Stress for Project/Job/Partner total cards in excess of 3. Life is hard!

Gain 1 Stress for each Partner you have in excess of 2… also have a good long look at yourself!

Now it’s time to collect income and pay upkeep costs on Items, Jobs and Partners. You can pay these in any order so the income from one can pay the upkeep of another.

If you’re unwilling or unable to pay upkeep of a card you discard it, but gain 1 Stress AND lose 1 Short Term happiness.

Action Phase
In turn order, place an Hourglass token on an action space or card and resolve the action. If one of YOUR Hourglass tokens is already on an action space, take 1 Stress… you’re over doing it!

Yellow is studying too hard and will gain a Stress

Those action spaces are…

Study/Play/Interact/Temp Job – These let you gain resources so take 3 Knowledge, 3 Creativity, 3 Influence or 3 Money accordingly.

When you use the Take a Project space, choose one of the available cards and pay the cost. Put it in front of you then immediately replace the card on the board. You pay resources but your position on the Short Term Happiness track may increase or decrease this cost.

There are 3 types of Project: Basic, Single-Round and Group.

Basic – Pay the cost for Level 1 and add a black cube on that level and take the reward printed on the card. On future turns these can be advanced by placing an Hourglass on the card to move the Cube up 1 level. Again, pay the cost and gain the reward. At Level 4, the card is put aside (for possible scoring) and the Hourglass tokens moved to the ‘Spent Time’ section on the board.

The player upgrades from writing Fan Fiction in their spare time to writing a Teen Drama. They pay the cost, move the cube and gain the reward.

Single-Round – These work in a similar way but you pay ANY level on the card and gain the reward. At the end of the round, you put it aside and it counts as completed.

Group – Move the Hourglass token onto the card in any role and as always, pay the cost and get the reward. Other players can take a role on that card by taking the ‘Take Project’ action and moving the Hourglass to the card in the same way. But, a player can’t have more than 2 Roles on one Group Project card. At the end of the round, participating players get the reward on the bottom of the card depending on how many hourglass tokens are on the card.

There are two types of card when you choose the Spend action. Just like the Project cards you take the card, choose the level, pay the cost, get the reward and replace the card on the board.

If it’s an Item, put a black cube on the chosen level. Be careful, some levels on items have an upkeep cost. (Hobbies are not cheap, amiright Board Gamers? :))

If it’s an Activity, it works the same but they do not have an upkeep cost, ever. But, you advance a card by placing an Hourglass on it to move the cube to any level upwards. Of course, pay the cost and gain the reward.

Pets are always bought at the first level and advance during each upkeep phase by paying the cost. Pets do not count as Items for scoring (and rightly so!)

Example of an Item, Activity and Pet.

Once available you can select ‘Get Job‘ to do just that.  The cards are double sided with the same cost and reward on each side but a different Job title for a bit of flavour.  Again, take the card, pay the hiring cost, gain the reward and keep it in your play area. But, DO NOT replace the card on the board. Jobs don’t appear out of nowhere you know!

Each Job has an upkeep cost and you can only have 1 Job at a time. A second job card will replace the first without penalty.

To get a promotion, place an Hourglass marker on the ‘Spent Time’ section of the game board and take a job of a higher level (but the same job type) and pay the promotion cost. You discard the old job without penalty and you do not get the reward for the new job.

Level 3 jobs can be upgraded to retirement so it no longer counts as a card for Stress purposes. However, if you get a new job card you’re no longer retired, so discard it.

A Stand-Alone Job let’s you pick the ‘Work Harder’ option by placing an Hourglass marker and paying the extra cost for the extra reward.

When you ‘Start Relationship’ you’ll notice the cards are double sided again with the same cost and reward but have Male and Female sides. Take the card, add a black cube on the ‘Date’ section and gain the reward. Keep it in your play area but again DO NOT replace the card on the board. That special someone wouldn’t be special if they were everywhere!

If you meet the requirements you can place an Hourglass on the card and move the cube up 1 space.

For Overtime, take 2 Hourglass Markers from your supply but gain 2 stress. You can’t go above the end of the stress track to take this action.

To Rest, lose 2 Stress, but you can’t cross into a different colour section of the Stress track. You don’t gain stress from other of your Hourglasses being here. You can’t gain Stress from over resting 🙂

If you’re not happy with the cards, you can pay 1 Short Term Happiness to clear them all off the board and replace them.

If you run out of Hourglasses you are out the round, when all players are out of actions the Round ends.

End of Round
Gain Rewards from Group Projects , Set aside Single-Round Projects and Group Projects as mentioned above. Take back your Hourglass Markers and discard extra markers taken from ‘Overtime’. The player furthest ahead on the Short Term Happiness track is the new Start Player. (Ties are broken by player furthest from the old start player clockwise)

Move the Short Term happiness Track markers back to the middle and remove the 3 ‘Unavailable’ tokens if this is the end of round 1.

Round 6, 7, 8
Cover the Overtime space, (you’re too old for that! :)) and gain Stress in the Upkeep phase printed on the current round marker.

Game End

When all Players die the game ends. Death is inevitable.

You get 1 Long Term Happiness for 5 resources of the same type and 1 for every 5 money you die with.

Now check the life goals, the player that wins the life goal scores it. No one wins on a tie.

The player with the most Long Term Happiness wins with the tiebreaker going to the player with the most Cards in play/completed.

Round Up

In this game you have to balance your Time and Income vs your Relationships, Hobbies and Belongings… Making sure to not overdo it… Sound familiar? 🙂

The theme is it’s strongest point, but as far as Worker Placement/Resource management games go it’s good too.

I like the art, it’s my style and I also like the components even though they’re not spectacular.

There is an issue, those Heart symbols… They knock you down the Stress track a lot and can quite often lead to one player taking an extra turn. You’re healthy enough to last an extra round in old age and you can get quite a few points…. Sadly, those Heart icons are few and far between, maybe 1 per game…


A nice theme for a worker placement game, just needs more Heart 😉

I give it 6/10

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