Kickstarter Tabletop Alert: ‘Personalitree’

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Personalitree is a new game that launched on Kickstarter today that may just help improve your relationship while having fun!

New to Kickstarter? Check out our crowdfunding primer. Note I received a prototype of the game so components in photos do not match the final game quality.

At a Glance

Personalitree is a 2-player game for ages 18 and up.  It is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, with a pledge level of $25 (plus shipping) for a copy of the game. My wife and I had planned a date night for our anniversary the day the game arrived and we decided to play the game instead of going out! The game was designed by Jeff Wong and is based on the New York Times article, “To Fall in Love With Anyone, Do This” by Mandy Len Catron.

Card box with dividers. Photo by Will James.

Personalitree Components

Note: My review was based on a pre-production prototype, so exact components, artwork, and component quality is all subject to change, though this should give you a rough overview.

  • 402 Cards:
    • 256 Question Cards
    • 146 Action Cards
  • Instruction sheet

The cards are packaged in a card box with dividers between the types of cards which makes setup a breeze. The box is exactly the size it needs to be to hold the cards and dividers and has no extraneous space.

Initial Setup of our game. Photo by Will James.

How to Play Personalitree

The goal of the game is to have a deep, exploratory conversation with your partner (or potential partner) using the cards to chain together questions and topics while earning points. The points are shared and the game is cooperative, with the end goal of getting as many points as possible.

Setup

The first step is deciding how long you want to play, which will determine the card setup. There are four choices: A Quicky (20 minutes), 5th Date and Some Wine (45 minutes to two hours), Let’s Skip the Movie (two to three hours), and Are You Gonna Stay the Night? (three to six hours). The only difference between each tier is how many question cards of each tier you play with. The play time range is quite varied because length will depend entirely on how deep and wide your questions and answers go!

We went with the second option (and our game ended up taking almost two hours), so we placed three question cards from each tier (Acorn, Blooming, Flourishing, and Personalitree) in the center of the table. The Critter cards are then shuffled and placed beside those. For a less strategic game, you can leave out the Hunter and Squirrel Thief cards (which we did for our first play through). The Honey Jar cards are placed next to those, and a spot for your scored cards and a compost (discard) pile are chosen. Lastly, each player takes seven Critter cards and places them face-up in front of themselves.

Game Play

An Acorn question card. Photo by Will James.

Players decide who will ask the first question and flip over the first Acorn card. The question is read aloud and answered, honestly, by the other player. Anytime something on one of that player’s critter cards is mentioned in an answer, that card is scored. If something on one of the question asker’s Observant Owl critter cards comes up, that player can ask a follow on question. Once the player is done answering and there are no more cards to chain off, both players replenish their cards back up to seven and switch roles on the same Acorn card.

If a player chooses to not answer a question, the card goes into the discard pile and those points are lost. The key to this game is honesty, so while I’d encourage both players to answer as honestly as possible, if something is a trigger or you’re just not ready to discuss a topic with your partner, it’s definitely better to just discard the question than to try to have a conversation about something and not be 100% truthful.

If either, or both, players agree that there was an especially emotional response to a question or answer, a Honey Pot card (+1 point) can be thrown into the score pile.

While we thought the cards might be a little distracting from the conversation, they actually helped a lot both with sparking memories in answering questions and making sure we were being good listeners to pick up on details we could chain the conversation off of.

Play proceeds through each stack, answering all questions in one tier before moving to the next. As you may have guessed, the questions become more personal and in-depth as you move through the tiers, but they also become worth more points.

Once the players have made it through all four tiers, the points on all scored cards are added up and the score is compared to a score chart on the rule sheet. The score card details were still under construction when we played, but things like “This game sucks” for a really low score on Quicky level and “I know a different way to score” for a really high score on Stay the Night level, are some examples of how you might place.

Extra Cards

There are two kinds of extra cards that we didn’t try out but that can be added to make the game a little more strategic–Hunter and Squirrel Thief.

Hunter cards can be shuffled in with the Critter cards, and if a player has one, it can be used at anytime to ask a question during an answer about any Observant Owl card, even if that thing wasn’t mentioned. This is a potential way to both score more points and extend the chain of discussion.

Squirrel Thief cards are shuffled into the Critter deck as well with the players deciding how many to insert based on how long they’ve been together; for example, add one if you just started dating, four if you’ve been married a few years, etc. A player can use this card to stop the person answering a question if they think they already know the answer. While it can derail the conversation a little, it can also show how well you already know each other. And if the player using a Squirrel Thief is wrong? They get to sit back and listen to why they were wrong!

The Verdict

Our huge stack of scored cards. Photo by Will James.

We loved it! We played the Date & Wine level and hit 127 points which is the top score rung (121–144) for that game level! There was much laughing and crying, and, even after six years of being married, a surprising number of things we’d never shared or talked about. And not only did we learn some great things about each other, we even gained some new insight into ourselves. In the context of the game, we even ended up discussing an issue we’ve been having with one of our kids and brainstormed some possible solutions. It was one of, if not the best date night we’ve had, and we didn’t leave the house or spring for an expensive dinner!

As a side note, for more details on the original essay and Mandy Len Cantron, you can also check out the book she subsequently wrote by the same name, How to Fall in Love With Anyone: A Memoir of Essays.

For more about the game or to pledge for a copy, visit the Personalitree Kickstarter page!

Disclosure: I received a prototype for review purposes.

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