Soaps is an extremely creative game. The premise of the game is that each player is the writer, director, and producer of their very own soap opera and each needs to try to keep their show the most interesting one on television to earn the best ratings (points) per week. The game ends with a final sweeps week, where point values are doubled. Whoever has the most points at the end of the specified number of weeks is the winner.
Players use Character cards that comprise their cast, and Event cards which signify things that might happen during the life of the show; i.e. characters marry, die, date, cheat, go to prison, etc.
Characters and Event cards each have point values, and you get to combine the total of points for all the cards that are involved in any legal play; i.e. two characters date. The Date Event card is worth a certain amount of points and you also add the point values for the two characters that were involved in the Event.
The rules were a little difficult to understand at first, and I am currently helping the author work on those; just some clarity errors that added another 15 minutes or so onto prep time…nothing catastrophic.
One thing I noticed the most about Soaps was the art. The caricatures on each Character card are vibrant and full of life, they are great illustrations for the game. The rest of the cards though are rather plain and contain little more than black text on white cards. Which is fine for the subject matter, but a person who relies more on visual stimuli might be disinterested. There were some issues with cards getting mixed up with each other because they look so similar, but the author is working on those as well and I’ve offered to help any way I can.
Another thing that is worth noting is the subject matter itself. If you happen to be ultra-conservative or tend to take such positions, you should know that Soaps deals with relationships both hetero-, and homo-sexual. Characters are classified by both their gender and sexual orientation and those attributes affect what events can be used on them. Which can actually make for a lot of humor for those who aren’t particularly a fan of Soap Opera shows. But it should be known that even though this game is understandable for a 12+ audience, this is the reason for the 18+ rating, parental discretion is encouraged.
Although it isn’t necessary to be a fan of Soap Operas to like Soaps, it does help. This game is great for someone who watches them often, although it may not be a good pick for someone who is more interested in other genres, making this somewhat of a niche game without some of that all-important mass appeal. I will admit that I am probably not the target audience for this one, but as a professional I can see that a person who watches daytime TV all the time would probably love to play this with their fellow Soaps watchers.
The concept works though. This same game could be retooled to be sitcom-themed, horror-movie themed, reality-show themed, or whatever the author thinks of on an idle afternoon. I would actually love to see some more themes using this game’s framework.
For the everyman, Soaps gets a “B” for being a fun and clever concept but lacking some visual character and having a niche subject matter.
For the Soap Opera watcher, however, Soaps is easily a “A+” recommendation. I don’t think there has been anything else like this for those folks, I’m sure it would be a hit for them.
You can find SOAPS and tons of other completely original games at WWW.THEGAMECRAFTER.COM
[The Author, Danny Goodisman has graciously donated a copy of his game Soaps for the purposes of this review. Thank you, Danny! We had a lot of fun. If you would like to have your game reviewed by us, please feel free to email us.]