- For ages 8 and up (publisher suggests 14+)
- For 2 to 4 players
- Approximately 15 minutes to complete
- Active Listening & Communication
- Counting & Math
- Logical & Critical Decision Making
- Hand/Resource Management
- Child – Easy
- Adult – Easy
Theme & Narrative:
- Visit revenge on those who have wronged you
- Gamer Geek rejected!
- Parent Geek approved!
- Child Geek approved!
English poet, orator, and priest of the Church of England, George Herbert, is credited with saying “Living well is the best revenge.” Then again, English historian, writer, and member of parliament Edward Gibbon said, “Revenge is profitable, gratitude is expensive.” In this game, players will be taking on the role of children being treated poorly by other children. Demoralized, teased, and made to feel bad. Childhood can be hell. But in this game, hell is what you bring back and visit upon those who have wronged you. So don’t take it on the chin! Pay back the wrongs you suffered in the darkly comedic dice-rolling game.
Living Well is the Best Revenge, designed by Cory Jones, Ben Stoll, Mataio Wilson and published by Cryptozoic Entertainment, is comprised of 40 Ability cards (ten per player, Tarot sized), eight Player dice, four Power dice, 24 Reroll tokens, four Player boards, and four Player tokens. All game components are of excellent quality, with thick cardboard and durable cards. In addition, the game is riddled with puns and jokes. Along with the talented work provided by illustrator Robb Mommaerts, each card is colorful and will make you smirk at the humorous illustrations that only serve to strengthen the game’s theme further.
Of important note are the illustrations on the cards, which are based on the excellent work of the very talented Steven Rhodes. He is well known for mixing nostalgic images of a simpler time with a touch of a dark twist to make you smile and then slightly furrow your brow out of concern. Look into Mr. Rhodes’ excellent work, and support this excellent artist!
Note that the special Kickstarter exclusive edition of the game includes four additional Gold Power Dice and four additional Ability cards. These are not needed to play the base game. Instead, they replace components, adding a new ability and extra depth of gameplay.
Plotting Your Revenge
To set up the game, complete the following steps.
First, give each player 10 Ability cards of the same color. If playing with the Kickstarter exclusive version of the game, have each player replace their “10” value Ability card with the Kickstarter exclusive, placing the gold-colored Special Power dice with dice pips matching the player’s Ability card color on top. Regardless, all Ability cards in play should be placed in front of their owning player in a row, with the side showing a “locked” icon. It’s highly advised that players arrange their Ability cards sequentially to make them easy to scan during gameplay.
Second, give each player two Player dice and one Power die that matches their Ability card color.
Third, give each player a Player board and token matching their Ability card color. Place the Player board, so the “1” value is showing. Next, place the Player token on one side of the Player board. The Player board and token are used to keep track of the player’s score. If the player earns more points than indicated on one side of the Player board, flip it over to continue to track victory points.
Fourth, place all the Reroll tokens in the middle of the playing area. Have each player take one Reroll token at this time and place it next to their Player board.
This completes the game setup—time to get your revenge by living the good life.
Quick Word on Rerolling Dice
The game uses dice rolls as its primary conduit for empowering players to make choices. Unfortunately, this means that luck and randomness play a heavy role. For some, that will make their eyes roll and disappoint. However, before these individuals storm off to another room, let’s discuss the Reroll tokens and the abilities of some Ability cards to allow the player to change the die values.
At the start of each game, each player is given a Reroll token that allows the player – you guessed it – to re-roll one of their dice. This ability is also awarded through some Ability cards.
Reroll tokens may be spent on the player’s turn if they are considered the “Active player” (explained below) and only before they attempt to “unlock” Ability cards. Players can only re-roll their Player dice (never their Power die). In addition, any Reroll tokens not used by the player are worth points at the end of the game.
Living Well is the Best Revenge is played in rounds and turns for three rounds. A single game round and a player’s turn are summarized here.
Step One: Start of the Round
At the start of each round, all the players simultaneously roll their two Player dice, ignoring their Power die at this time. The rolled result is the total number that can now be used to unlock (flip over) one or more Ability cards. Note that each Ability card has a value from “1” to “10”. Using the combined total rolled on the dice, the player selects a combination of Ability cards to “unlock” with a combined value precisely the same as the combined dice roll.
For example, if the player rolled a “12” (two sixes), they could do any of the following:
- Unlock the “10” and the “2” Ability cards for a combined 12
- Unlock the “1”, “2”, “3,” and “6” Ability cards for a combined 12
- Unlock the “2”, “4”, and “6” Ability cards for a combined 12
A player may never leave points unaccounted for. That is to say; if they only had the “6” Ability card left to unlock, they could not use a “5” and a “2” because that combined total of the dice is a “7”.
Once the players determine which ability cards to flip over and “unlock,” they do so. If using the Kickstarter exclusive “10” Ability card, the player takes the gold Special Power die into their hand at this time after they flip over the Ability card.
Also, at this time, determine who among all the players rolled with the lowest total value. This individual is the first player for the round.
Step Two: The First and Subsequent Turns
The next player to go is the first player (the “Active player”) selected for the round. They take their Player dice, their starting Power die, and the gold Special Power die into their hand (if they unlocked it) and roll. Next, all the other players roll their Power die (including the gold Special Power die if they unlock it).
The Active player taking their turn should place the rolled values of their dice in front of them so they are visible to their opponents.
Step Three: Opponents Score
Each of the Active player’s opponents has rolled their Power die and now evaluates the die rolls against the Active player’s dice roll and “unlocked” Ability cards. This includes any opponents that were knocked out of the round earlier.
For each opponent’s Power die that matches a number rolled by the Active player and matches an “unlocked” Ability card owned by the opponent, they gain one point, indicating the point earned on their Player board.
Let me write that again, as it can be a bit confusing…
Opponents only score one point if the Power die they rolled matches a rolled value provided by the Active player’s dice and matches an Ability card the opponent has already unlocked. Each Power die can only score once, regardless of how many matches they can make. However, opponents could score two points if they unlocked two Power dice.
Step Three: Use Unlocked Abilities
OK, back to the Active player, who can now use any “unlocked” Ability cards in any order they choose and only if the Ability card is available based on the dice rolled. For example, “unlocked” Ability cards are only available to the player if the Power die rolls a specific value. Resolve each “unlocked” Ability card one at a time and continue to do so until none are left, none are available based on dice rolls, or the active player doesn’t want to use them at this time.
Step Four: Unlock New Abilities
The Active player now determines the total value of their Player dice (ignoring the results rolled on their Power die). Then, like the first action all players took at the start of the round, the Active player now attempts to unlock one or more “locked” Ability cards.
But there is a catch.
At the start of the round, unlocking at least one Ability card is always possible. Trust me; the math doesn’t allow you to fail. However, as the game progresses, Active players will roll a combined Player dice value that cannot be used to unlock one or more Ability cards. Remember, the total value of the Ability cards unlocked must match – exactly – what the player rolled.
Suppose the player can do so; great! They flip over and “unlock” the selected Ability cards.
If they cannot, they are out of the round and are considered “knocked out.” As a result, they will no longer take a turn as the Active player, either. However, they still have a chance to score points during the Active player’s turn by rolling their Power die.
This completes the Active player’s turn. The next player in the turn order sequence who can become the Active player now takes their turn.
Ending the Round
The game continues as noted above until one player has “unlocked” all ten of their Ability cards or all but one player has been knocked out of the round.
If the round ended with a player unlocking all their Ability cards, that player now takes all their dice, rolls them, determines the total value rolled, and earns that number of points.
If the round ends with only one player not knocked out, that player rolls two of their dice, determines the total value rolled and earns that number of points.
Continuing the Game and Ending the Game
A new round begins with every player “locking” their Ability cards. Any abilities these cards provided during the last round are now off-limits to the player until they unlock them again. This includes the Kickstarter-exclusive gold Special Power die.
Begin the new round starting with step one noted above.
After three rounds of gameplay, the game comes to an end. Complete the third and final round as usual. In addition, any player with unused Reroll tokens scores two points per token.
The player with the most points wins the game!
To learn more about Living Well is the Best Revenge, visit the game’s webpage.
The Child Geeks had no issues learning to play the game and jumped right in. They liked the funny illustrations and the puns. They liked how every turn they were involved in the game with no downtime. The continuous play kept them engaged from the first dice roll to the last counting of points. According to one Child Geek, “I liked the game because there was always something to do and to look at. I didn’t have to wait for someone else.” Another Child Geek said, “I thought the game was funny. The way the kids came back for their revenge made me laugh. The game was good, too, and I liked how I could always play even if I were knocked out.” When the last dice was rolled, the Child Geeks added the score and found the game to be a winner.
The Parent Geeks were less enthralled but were pleased with the experience the game provided nonetheless. They appreciated that the game was short, focused, and kept everyone playing. One Parent Geek said, “This is a great example of a game I would play with my kids anytime they asked. It’s short, easy to set up, and fun to play. This was a good time at my family gaming table.” Another Parent Geek said, “Light and fast. It worked great as a filler for my friends and a quick game with the kids—just the right length of time at the table. If nothing else, I’d say the game was a bit too fast at times. I will also say it was a great exercise in math for my youngest child.” When the last act of revenge was completed, the Parent Geeks took stock and found the game an excellent time for all.
The Gamer Geeks were amused, but not by much, and they quickly lost interest. According to one Gamer Geek, “A fun concept, but not enough to the game to make it worthwhile for me. Each time you roll, you choose until you can’t make a choice anymore. The speedy dwindling returns were offset by the fact that players could still score even if they were knocked out, and the saving grace for the game as a whole was how short it was. I’d say this is the kind of game I’d play as a filler – a light filler – at best. But I would play it again.” Another Gamer Geek was much more critical, saying, “No, this is not a game for anyone who takes their game playing to a level where they yearn for strategy and tactics. This game was designed, it would seem, to be fast and light. It did just that. However, it’s too light and fast to feel worth putting on the table.” When the Gamer Geeks put the game away on the shelf, they evaluated their experience and decided it was not for them.
Living Well is the Best Revenge is very light and fast, as the Gamer Geeks put it. I also found it to be amusing. There is a great deal of luck and very little in the way of strategy other than deciding which Ability cards to flip, given the number of values you have available. Once you figure out the best sequence, you don’t have to do much thinking afterward. Roll, flip, repeat. That, in and of itself, sounds boring. And if that was all there was to the game, I’d agree. However, the Ability cards and the Reroll tokens add player control and decision-making. Not a great deal, mind you, but enough to be an exciting exercise in number crunching and interesting – albeit not critical – decision-making. The result is a game that, despite being relatively light, is engaging enough to keep a player focused and always observing the dice.
Overall, I enjoyed the game. The artwork is hilarious, and the gameplay is great for players of all ages. Of course, skill and personal preferences regarding types of games will always be the most significant factor determining whether a player enjoys the game. Still, we can all get behind the game’s theme and narrative in this case. Living well is truly the best revenge; this game was a good reminder and time. Do try this little game to see if it makes a significant impact on your gaming table.
Now I’m off to find a dragon and a suit of armor that fits my dad-bod so I can impress those ladies who didn’t date me in middle school. I’ll show them! Take flight, my winged beast!
This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.