What is Block Happy?
Emotions sit at the center of Block Happy, a card game for 2-5 players. Players compete to collect all the happy whilst being, frustrated, smug, flirty, curious, and overjoyed along the way.
Block Happy is a beautiful looking game with hexagonal cards. It’s great for the whole family to play and is looking for funding on Kickstarter right now. Note: All images in this review show prototype cards and their appearance may be different in the finished product.
What’s in the Box?
Hexagonal cards – 70 of them. These are broken down in the following way.
- 30 X Simple cards in 5 types: Surprised, Funny, Scared, Angry, and Sad
- 7 X Happy Cards – The cards required to win the game.
- 6 X Emotional Powers – The most powerful cards in the game.
- 12 X Attack Cards in 3 flavors: Frustrated, Annoyed, and Outraged.
- 9 Control Cards: Optimistic, Curious, Flirty, Cheeky and Bored. 2 of each, but only one Cheeky.
- 5 Smug Defense Cards.
Rules. Always handy!
A fold-out poster of the full emotional creature guide with all actions explained
5x Individual A6 quick guide cards.
It’s worth noting at this point how fabulous the art on the cards is. The Minecraft style blocks are visually appealing in the extreme. My kids absolutely love them. No two cards are the same, and even after repeated plays I still find myself discovering some new quirk on a card.
The hexagonal block design also works well. The text on the card is positioned so that you can easily arrange the cards in your hand and be to see which card is which. Lining up the cubes’ vertices on the hexagons is also very pleasing; though that might just be me.
How do you play Block Happy?
Playing Block Happy couldn’t be easier.
The aim of the game is to collect 7 happy cards. As soon as you acquire a Happy card, it’s placed face up in front of you and is fair game. Once you have all 7 in front of you, you win. There is one other way to win. If you have 6 cards in front of you and the Tickled Pink emotional power card, you can also take the game.
Each player is dealt 7 cards and given one Happy card (the Happy cards are separated at the start of the game), which is immediately placed in from of you. The rest of the Happy cards are then shuffled back into the deck which is placed face-down to act as the draw pile.
Play then begins with whoever you choose to go first. On your turn, you will either play 1 or 2 cards. Most often 1. At the start of each turn, you will always have 7 cards in your hand.
Each card has a specific rule that goes with it and they never deviate from that, making the game easy to pick up.
The simplest move is to play a Simple card. I guess the clue is in the name. If you play a simple card, you place it face-up on the discard pile and take another card from the draw (hidden) pile. (If that card is a Happy card, you put it down in front of you and take another card from the draw pile).
You can also play 2 simple cards together providing they are of the same type. E.g. 2 surprised cards or 2 sad cards. In this case, you may take one card from the hidden pile (as per playing 1 simple card) but you also take 1 card from the discard pile, to take you back up to 7. This is a great play if somebody else before you has played a powerful card. You can draw it from the discard pile and place it straight into your hand.
There is one final play with the simple cards. If you have one of each type (a “rainbow” of 5 cards) you can lay them all down, pinch somebody’s happy card and draw 5 new cards. Powerful if you can make it work!
Angry Attack Cards.
If you want to be the happiest player in the room, you’re going to have to make other people unhappy first. I’m sure great philosophical debates could be had about whether happiness inevitably comes at someone else’s expense, but for now, let’s focus on the three attack cards in the game, frustrated, annoyed, and outraged.
Frustrated allows you to take 1 happiness from ANY player. Annoyed cards allow you to take 2 cards, and the powerful outraged cards allow you to take ALL a player’s accumulated happiness. Ouch! No wonder it’s called “outraged.”
But all is not lost. You can sit smugly back as you watch your opponent’s anger turn inwards, by blocking their attack with a smug card. There are 5 of these and they all do the same thing – stop an attack card. In this case, nothing happens and both players draw a new card each. You’ve escaped. For now.
Smug cards can also be used to avoid the effects of cards that control others. Though the effects of these aren’t generally too bad, so this doesn’t happen too often.
Control cards are 5 emotions that allow quirky effects within the game. They’re fun rather than game-changing, although played at the right time, might help you acquire an all-important card.
The control cards come in 5 flavors. Optimistic and Cheeky cards allow you to look at the top 3 cards of the hidden deck. You can keep one card and place any happiness cards you find in front of you. Curious: Ask any player for a card you want from their hand. If they have it, they have to give it to you. Handy, if you’ve just seen them take a powerful card out of the discard pile.
If you play a flirty card, you pick another player and blind swap cards from your hand. Play a bored card and you can choose a player to miss a turn.
Emotional Power Cards.
The game’s big hitters. These cards have powerful effects and perhaps more importantly, they are unsmugable. By which I mean they cannot be blocked by a smug card as outlined above.
These cards are:
- Tickled Pink. (or Tinkled Pink as my youngest calls it.) With tickled pink down in front of you, you only need to collect 6 of the 7 Happiness cards. In theory, it makes winning the game a little easier. In practice, it paints a target on your head. Timing is everything with this card.
- Magical. An unstoppable card that steals two of you fellow players’ happiness.
- Overjoyed. Possibly the strongest card in the game. Reverses the action of an attack card. So, if somebody is trying to win the game, by stealing all your happiness, turn the tables on them by stealing theirs instead. Unstoppable.
- Jealous. Steal 1 happiness.
- Glum. Pick a player and make them shuffle 1 happiness card back into the hidden pile.
- Shocked. Blow an opponent’s game right out of the water by making them shuffle ALL their happiness back into the Hidden pile. This card can only be used ONCE PER GAME.
And that’s all there is to it. Play goes around following these simple rules until one player ends up with seven happiness guards.
Why Back Block Happy?
Quick to pick up, engaging, and good fun. A card game with ebb and flow that will have you hooting in delight then howling in despair, all in the space of a couple of turns.
Whilst the Block Happy game is solid, it’s very simple. Great for families but, if I’m honest, tactically speaking it’s not a game with huge depth. But then neither is Exploding Kittens and that did OK. Block Happy has a similar appeal. It’s easy enough you can teach your granny and has enough back and forth and to keep players engaged as fortunes change with the swipe of a card.
What sets Block Happy apart from a crowded field and elevates into greatness is its aesthetic. The pictures make the rules and theme work. They convey happiness, outrage, and smugness. In Block Happy, you are what you play. The artwork is pitch-perfect. The Minecraft style blocks are extremely appealing. If you’re given a set of Block Happy cards it’s impossible not to root through them and examine every card. Everybody I’ve played with has a favorite. There will definitely be a card in the deck that appeals most to you.
The hexagonal/block motif works really well too. The design team has really made the most of the visual trick of a 2D hexagon rendered as a 3D cube. The joy of playing Block Happy is reveling in the gorgeous and well thought out design of the cards.
My kids love this game. The visual appeal drew them in, whilst the fun gameplay and opportunity to do each other over has kept them hooked. We have lots of games coming in and out of our house. So many, my children can be a little blasé about them. They actively seek out games of Block Happy and take it off themselves to play games against one another. There isn’t really a much greater endorsement than that.
The campaign goes live on October 15th and essentially has two pledge levels. Early bird pledges get awesome looking enamel pins. The basic pledge level is £21 for a copy of the game, including a character poster of all the blocks.
For £31 you’ll get a more interesting badge (with an arrow that spins around – my son has one of these and loves it!) and some great vinyl stickers so you can take Block Happy with you and spread a little happiness wherever you go. Alternatively, you can cause a little outrage by sticking them somewhere where shouldn’t. (Neither Block Happy nor GeekDad endorses this action.) There are a couple of extra bulk buy pledge levels too. These prices don’t include postage, so you’ll need to factor that in, but the campaign page has a comprehensive list of postage prices to all corners of the glove, so you won’t get caught out.
As ever with Kickstarter campaigns, there will be some stretch goals, which include things like, nicer card stock and a more deluxe box. There is even the promise of some extra emotions to get excited about too.
You can check out the Kickstarter page, here.
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Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.