Marriage Material from Zipwhaa Games pokes fun at the pressures on longtime couples to get hitched. The game is very tongue-in-cheek, full of wacky twists and turns that might not affect every couple (such as the “You’re My Sister?!” event card) as well as plenty of situations that we might all run across (such as mother saying plainly, “I Want Grandchildren”). Players will have a blast elbowing one another further and further down the aisle until only one is left with his or her independence.
Play in Marriage Material is straightforward and easy to learn. On each player’s turn, that player draws two cards from the Cop-Out deck to add to his or her hand and then draws and reveals a card from the Honey-Do deck. The Honey-Do deck has a few game-changing Event cards to shake things up midgame, but the real danger is in the Commitment cards, each with a point value that must be overcome with Excuses or else added to one’s marriage material resume.
The Cop-Out deck comes with the other two types of cards: Excuses that can save a player, and Influence, which a player may add to another player’s Commitments to crank up the pressure from dear old Ma.
Players continue going in turns until one collects too many Commitments and is out of the game. Because the mechanics for drawing are largely luck-based, the real game in Marriage Material comes from its social aspect. Players may be able to overcome their Commitments on their own, but if they get too far ahead, the other players will turn on them with flying Influence cards. Players should also watch out for making enemies by burning Influence cards too early and being left without ammo when the hard-hitting comes later in the game.
The art by Roy Schneider is ideal for the wacky fun of Marriage Material. In addition to its title and points value, each card comes with a whole cartoon that makes the deck as fun to read as it is to play. There are often hilarious switcheroos, such as the male being the soap-opera enthusiast or claiming to need to shave his legs in Excuse cards, while the female might be the more rabid fan. Recurring characters in the forms of the sports couple, the punk couple, the Latin American couple, and the African-American couple give players a sense of story through the game, watching their romantic lives evolve as they march toward the altar. The details are rich, even to the point of having a plug for Zipwhaa’s Management Material in the background as a wall poster.
Marriage Material is an elimination card game for two to five players aged 15 and up (while there isn’t any PG-13 rated stuff, some of the jokes might go over younger heads). Groups larger than five players may join in on a single game by combining decks into one massive race to survive matrimony. With its hilarious situations and energetic social play, Marriage Material makes for a fun party game, especially for those about to take the plunge themselves.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=0553447718]