Publisher: Mayday Games
Game Designer: Shane Willis
Artwork: Jonathan Pitcher
Ages: 8 and up
Playing Time: 20-30 minutes
Ooh that smell
We’ve all had those roommates and maybe have even been one ourselves, the one always dodging the chore of taking out the garbage. It becomes a game as everyone in the apartment is doing their best not to be seen near the trash bin, lest they get pressured into emptying it.
With no one wanting to step up and do the job, it becomes a dexterous contest of seeing how far everyone can push the laws of physics and the limits of the trash can. A well balanced rotten apple here, an empty Hot Pocket container there and pretty soon the situation becomes quite hazardous.
Being an enterprising sort, you begin shuttling trash to the dark recesses of your room and even better into your roommate’s rooms, unbeknownst to them. As you nefariously giggle at their ignorance, they’re doing the same to you until one too many nasty’s has been squeezed into the trash and it spills over creating an epic mess that hopefully you won’t have to clean up!
If you’ve been good or lucky enough to avoid creating the spill, you can kick back in the backyard hammock and watch all of your roommates clean up and take out the trash because today is Garbage Day!
Scheming and scamming amidst a precarious puzzle
In Garbage Day, players take alternating turns stacking garbage cards on the garbage can lid or stashing them into their rooms or those of their opponents. Once your room is full, you are forced to empty it by stacking those cards on top of the garbage can one at a time. If the cards fall off during your turn you’re stuck with them and they go in your overflow pile. Once that overflow pile gets too big, you’re out but if you can hang on and the last one standing, you win!
Players start with a room and clutter card along with a two card starting hand at the beginning of play. The trash can lid is flipped over and secured to the can, this is where you’ll be stacking all of those dingy wrappers, stale food and other odiferous items that are so far gone they can no longer be identified.
Each turn has four steps:
* Play a card
* Check room
You first draw as many cards as necessary to meet your three card hand limit, then play a card as directed by the icons at the top of the card. These icons will tell you to either stash the card in you room, on top of the garbage can or give you a choice for either.
The last choice you get is to play the card into a roommate’s room, adding to their clutter until it reaches a total of 10. Once a room reaches that number, the owning player must start placing cards into the trash can lid which is quite simple at first but gets more challenging the larger the pile grows.
Cards played to the trash can must be placed on top of the pile, not underneath or between cards and you cannot intentionally move other cards in the process. As the pile grows and becomes more unwieldy, some cards may start to move around in reaction to your placement. In that case, the player must wait 3 seconds to let settle down before adding another card.
This is where you’ll catch yourself holding your breath, hoping none will fall out because they can set off a chain reaction with cards raining down, which of course is a bad thing for you. Cards that you knock off of the pile go into your overflow, once you reach the overflow limit for the game, you’re out!
What’s even worse, when cards fall on their own, through no fault of any player, they stay as they lay on the table until the next spillage. The unlucky player responsible for that collects all of the cards, including the ones already there! This is a quick way to get an early exit out of the game and is a wily tactic for someone to try, leaving the cards in such a manner that they’ll fall long enough after their turn that they won’t be responsible for collecting them. It’s a very tough strategy to successfully carry out but can help eliminate another player, thinning the herd and hopefully the top of the garbage can before your next turn.
You’re going to want to get rid of as many high value cards as possible by putting them on the garbage can, otherwise you’ll be forced to hide them in your room and some cards can push you close to the overflow point right away. Apparently you’d rather Netflix and chill instead of putting that ruined skillet in the trash. Who keeps a skillet, ruined or otherwise, in their room rather than the kitchen anyway? It serves you right if it causes the trash can to topple over!
The dexterity piece is simple at first but gets rather nerve racking the longer it continues because the simple placement is devilishly designed to create failure! The cards have two holes at the top and when you place the cards you must be able to see through them without seeing any part of a card underneath. This forces the cards into unsteady positions that become more pronounced the larger the pile goes, forcing pile to mushroom until gravity wins out. Oh and forget about sleeving the cards, they’ll be way too slick to stay in place!
There are also mischief cards that come in very handy for emptying your room and letting you dump all of your trash into other player’s rooms. Although the mischief cards have zero value, they add to the pile of cards they’ll need to discard to the trash can when it’s time to clean your room.
Mayday Games successfully funded Garbage Day through Kickstarter and the game is in the process of making its way across the seas so it should soon be arriving in backer’s hands, barring any major delays. For those who missed it, the game is up for pre-order on the Mayday website at a price of $20.
Keep it or toss it?
Garbage Day is a neat, simple little dexterity game that fans of other Mayday dex games will likely enjoy. It’s very easy to teach and play but is best with three or more players because it takes a bit too long to build up a pile with just two and the finish can feel rather anti-climactic.
While games like Animal Upon Animal and Rhino Hero are more challenging due to the odd shapes required to stack, I still found Garbage Day a fun and cute little filler worth keeping out of the bin and I like that there’s more player interaction.
Stacking flat cards makes for an easier dexterity game to get to the table for both adults and children and there’s just enough challenge to the stacking rules to make it fun without being complex. Add in the take that mechanics and you have a pretty fun interactive game that engages everyone.
This plays well with gamers of all ages, anytime I’ve played it with kids they’ve had no problems understanding the basic placement rules and their nimble little fingers were much steadier than mine!
Some basic counting also makes it good for little ones as they’ll need to keep track of card values in their room, building math and reasoning skills. Adults will enjoy it as quick end of the night game when you just want to shut the brain off and have some easy fun, which is what this brings to the table.
If you’re a fan of other Mayday titles like Coconuts (and who isn’t?) and are looking for an uncomplicated little dexterity game that’s entertaining for families or as a filler on game night, Garbage Day is a fun little diversion worth checking out.
Note: A preview copy of this game was provided to me for this review.