Overview: Here’s a quick-playing card game about amassing a fortune: Grandpa Beck’s Cover Your A$$ets. There’s a good deal of luck and a whole lot of stealing, but I suppose that’s what it takes to become a millionaire, at least in this game.
Players: 2 to 6*
Ages: 8 and up
Playing Time: 30 minutes
Rating: Like some millionaires: not a lot of depth, but can be fun nonetheless.
Who Will Like It? This is one you’ll break out for your non-gamer friends and to kill some time between weightier games. Hardcore Eurogamers probably won’t care for it as much, but it plays pretty quickly so you might convince them to join in. Don’t underestimate the appeal of a simple, silly game.
Theme: Not a lot of backstory here — you want a million dollars in assets before anyone else.
110 cards, showing ten different types of assets plus Gold and Silver, the wild cards. The game box holds two poker-sized card boxes each containing half the cards, and in each box you also get a bonus card with Grandma Beck’s Cheesy Dip recipe.
The cards are simply illustrated, with engraving-style borders. Each one states the type of asset and its value. Each type of asset has a different colored border, although some of the pinks and purples can look pretty similar to each other. (But the cards themselves are easily distinguished by the text.)
Shuffle all the cards together, and deal four to each player. Flip one card over to start the discard pile, and place the rest face down as a draw pile.
On your turn, you do one of these four options:
- If you have two matching assets, or any asset and a wild card (Gold or Silver), you may play them face-up in your asset stack. You may only play one pair.
- If the top card of the discard pile matches a card from your hand, you may take it and play the pair in your asset pile.
- If you have a card that matches the top card in another player’s asset pile or a wild card, you can attempt to steal it. (More on that below.)
- You may discard a card from your hand.
After performing that action, you (and any other players who played cards during your turn) draw back up to four cards.
When you play assets to your stack, you alternate between placing them horizontally and vertically, separating the different stacks of assets. Your first pair is safe and cannot be stolen; any stacks that are covered by other stacks are also safe … until they become uncovered.
To steal a set of assets, you play a matching card (or a wild). Then the other player has a chance to defend by playing a matching card (or a wild). This continues until one player doesn’t play a card. The last player to play a card wins, taking the whole set of assets (not the whole asset stack, just the set of matching cards), adding all the cards played during the challenge, and puts it in their own asset stack. Note: wild cards are always played under a stack — you must have some other asset paired with them to play them.
Once the draw pile is exhausted and everyone has played or discarded all of their cards, the round is over and you add up all of your assets. Continue playing rounds until one person amasses at least a million dollars in assets.
(For two or three players, the hand limit goes up to five cards.)
Cover Your A$$ets is a very simple game, obviously quite luck-dependent since you only get to hold four cards at a time. There is some strategy to it, though. For instance, do you play a pair of assets from your hand, or use that pair to have two chances to steal somebody else’s assets? Do you use your wild cards to increase the value of a set, or save it as protection against stealing?
Every time somebody tries to steal assets, whether they’re successful or not, that particular set of assets increases in value, making it a bigger target for all the other players. Then it becomes a race to cover it up before somebody else draws the right cards to steal it again. This is especially true once wild cards are thrown in — the $5,000 “Cash Under the Mattress” can suddenly balloon to over $100,000.
I’ve had terrible luck, though. In one game, nearly every pair of assets I put down was immediately stolen, and each time I tried to steal assets the other player had the same cards in their hands to defend it — so basically I was just adding value to their stack. With only four cards to chose from, the chances of having multiple copies of any particular asset aren’t extremely high, so you’re really taking your chances every time you put down a set of assets.
Because fighting over assets is a key ingredient of the game, you can’t play this with people who will take things personally. I’m not sure what sort of lesson this teaches my kids about how wealth works, but maybe at least they’ll get some practice with their addition.
Overall, Grandpa Beck’s Cover Your A$$ets is a cute pint-sized game that doesn’t take too much time or mental energy to play, but the stealing back and forth can be quite entertaining, even if you have very little control over when it happens.
Wired: Very easy to learn, quick to play, and can be very funny.
Tired: Not much strategy; teaches weird lessons about money.
*Update: The second printing of the game changed things slightly, so I’ve made corrections to the player numbers in this post. For 2 or 3 players, you use five cards each. The game handles 4 to 6 players (and is recommended for 4 to 6) with four cards each. While you can add more players by combining sets, it is also recommended just to split into multiple groups of up to 6 players each.
Disclosure: GeekDad received a review copy of this game.