Marrying Mr. Darcy

Despite playing a lot of boardgames, I have only Kickstarted a handful. For a long time I didn’t see much reason to Kickstart any, as I already have a ton of games, and more to choose from to purchase, all of which have the added advantage of already existing. The game that first convinced me otherwise was Marrying Mr. Darcy, a card game based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, by Erika Svanoe.

Now, despite this being the second Pride and Prejudice game I own, I’m not a huge fan of the book. I’ve tried to read it twice and I’ve never gotten more than 20 pages in. It’s just not a world I care at all about spending a lot of time in. (Becky is a fan, though.)

However, a game by a woman developer, with an atypical theme, at a reasonable price with attractive artwork? That’s something I could definitely get behind. I backed it and a while back received my copy.

Now, the problem with a light, Pride and Prejudice-themed card game is finding the right people to play with, so it didn’t get played right away, but this weekend I broke it out and we gave it a go.

The game is divided into two parts. During the Courtship phase you draw Event cards and all kinds of things happen to you. You can go to parties, have tea time, play the pianoforte — there’s just no limit! You also can improve your character by playing cards to increase your Wit, Beauty, Friendliness, and Reputation. Also your Cunning and Dowry, which are sort of separate things. The goal is to try and meet the standards of your dream suitor, of whom there are six. You can also scratch the eyes out of your rivals, except we’re all ladies here, so you just whisper damning indictments of their qualities over scones.

When the events run out it’s Proposal time. In order of Cunning, you see which suitors you can qualify for, and roll a die for each one. On a 1-3, they tell you to hit the bricks, but on a 4-6 they propose! You can accept the proposal or turn them down, hoping for a better one. If you end up without a man, you roll on the Old Maid table to see your ultimate fate. You see how many points your mate or Old Maid-ness scored you, add up your character points, and high score wins.

If it sounds incredibly random, it is. You don’t have a lot of control over your fate, though there is enough to make things interesting. I’ve described it as “Pride and Prejudice and Talisman”, where you run around drawing cards and trying to beef up your character for the final showdown. It’s more of what’s called (often condescendingly) an “experience game”.

If you get into the theme, it’s a lot of fun. In our game I was Jane Bennett, and I was the odds-on favorite to win. Matt had been forced into a marriage with Mr. Wickham that he couldn’t spare the Reputation to get out of, and I had more feminine qualities than Becky or Satoko (their characters, I mean. They’re both lovely women.) However, my perfect match, Mr. Bingley, ended up going off to London and never came back, the cad! I wasn’t particularly Cunning, so by the time my Proposal phase came up, everyone had been cherry-picked and I only had one possible suitor, who rejected me. I ended up an Old Maid and even rolled poorly on that chart, so I was alone and miserable (though Beautiful and Friendly) for the rest of my short life. Satoko’s Caroline Bingley ended up winning.

However, in that game, nobody Married Mr. Darcy, so could we actually claim we’d played Marrying Mr. Darcy??

It got another play yesterday with my regular game group. This time Mr. Darcy did get married, to Chris, through a Surprise Proposal.

The fact that Darcy went for a scandalous hussy known for wearing low-cut gowns and shamelessly flirting with soldiers made me question whether or not he’s such a catch after all. Meanwhile, I, also playing Caroline Bingley, won by gold-digging and settling for Mr. Denny instead of holding out and risking Old Maiditude for Col Fitzwilliam.

Marrying Mr. Darcy is a feather-light yet fun game. The artwork is great and the card text is completely charming and hilarious. I’m totally pleased with my backing of it. If it sounds like something you might enjoy, you can get a copy at the Marrying Mr. Darcy website.

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