Groundhog Day: It’s a Doozy
“Alright campers, rise and shine! And don’t forget your booties, ‘cause it’s cold out there today!”
Here at the Official Nostalgia Branch Office™ of The Family Gamers, we love ourselves a good movie quote. And Groundhog Day, the 1993 fantasy comedy starring Bill Murray, is one of the most quotable movies of all time.
Groundhog Day: The Game feels like it exists to prove this point. I picture a snowy February morning at the Prospero Hall building, when someone says “I bet there are at least, like … 60 great quotes from this movie.” And their coworker says “Make a 60 card deck and prove it.” *
If you love the movie – then one of the best parts of this game is reading the quotes and reminiscing about the scenes they came from. But will you enjoy the game itself? Well let’s say a prayer, drink to world peace, and read on to find out.
“You make choices, and you live with them.”
Groundhog Day is a quiet cooperative game: you’re working together, but you’re not supposed to talk about the cards in your hands. Technically you can talk to strategize, but it’s really hard to open your mouth at all without accidentally cheating. For example, “I really think you should play some low numbered cards” pretty much gives away that you don’t have any low numbered cards yourself.
Each turn all the players play to a common row of seven cards. Cards can only be played one at a time, to the leftmost space, and in ascending (but not necessarily sequential) order; once you’ve played a 4 card, for example, the next card must be a 5, a 6, a 7, or higher. Anyone can play a card at any time – but again, without telling each other what’s in your hand. Once the row is completed, you add up all the heart icons shown on the cards in the row. This is your score for the day.
Now the next turn begins. The played cards stay on the table – you’ve gotten them out of the deck. The remaining cards are reshuffled and hands dealt out. Play a new row of seven cards. But this time, your heart icon score must be greater than the score you got last turn. Otherwise, you lose the game.
In the 60-card deck are 12 “Perfect” cards, with four hearts on each. To win the game, you must have a turn where all seven cards you play are these “Perfect” cards. So the general strategy here is to get as many non-perfect cards out of the deck as you can, so that more “Perfect” cards end up in your hands, allowing you to complete the Perfect Day.
The instruction manual provides some very helpful strategy tips and a “Winning Example” that you should definitely read before your first play.
“That’s not bad for a quadruped!”
Groundhog Day isn’t exactly a kids movie. Since my children haven’t seen it yet, they didn’t get anything out of the theme. Our teens enjoyed a couple of playthroughs but then it lost their interest.
Funko says the game is for ages 10 and up, and that feels about right. The mechanics are simple enough for that age range to pick up, and it doesn’t take long to explain the rules.
“Well what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today!”
You can think of Groundhog Day as The Mind with a more familiar theme (or, an actual theme) that builds on itself and adds a few minor tweaks. And, like The Mind, the mechanics of Groundhog Day rely very heavily on the cards in your hand. Because of this, challenge really ramps up as you increase the number of players. We found a two-player game pretty easy to win every time. Once we got to four players, not so much. (The game is rated to play with up to six, but we never tried it with that many).
But with simple rules, a bit of frantic action, and a quick playtime of 15 minutes, it makes for a good filler on game night, or a dinner party game if your guests are fans of the movie. Every time we played it, we enjoyed it; but it might be best enjoyed in small, infrequent doses.
Don’t Play Angry!
Beyond the movie quotes, Prospero Hall has done a masterful job of plucking the nostalgic heartstrings with the components. The card art is done in a hand-drawn comic book style, with a zoomed-in crop that obscures faces but emphasizes details that fans of the movie will appreciate. You mark the heart score of each row using cardboard tokens that look like the flip-numbers of Phil’s infamous alarm clock. And the turn marker is a groundhog meeple.
Want to dial the nostalgia up to 11? Download the free companion app that replaces the sand timer with a polka-themed musical countdown featuring an adorable groundhog dance routine.
Is Groundhog Day: The Game for you? Much like the Back to the Future game from Prospero Hall and Funko Games, I find myself ready to recommend it as an insta-buy for big fans of the movie. For anyone else, it’s a solid quick play game that doesn’t ask too much thinking of you; it’s up to you to decide if that’s worth the price and game shelf space.
You can order your own copy of Groundhog Day: The Game on Amazon, or ask for it at your local game store.
*Note: My imaginary game designer lost the bet. The six “Learning” cards that unlock “Perfect” cards don’t have quotes on them. ;-)
The Family Gamers received a review copy of Groundhog Day: The Game from Funko Games.
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Groundhog Day: The Game
Age Range: 10+
Number of Players: 2-6
Playtime: 15-20 minutes