Originally formed back in 2008, Grandpa Beck’s Games is a family run board game company. The Beck family were big fans of card games and liked to create their own house rules for classic card games in order to try and improve them. This eventually lead to the formation of the company where they have published some of the variant games that they have created over the years. The first game they released was Grandpa Beck’s Gold. This was followed by Cover Your Assets which was created back in 2011. As a fan of card games and games with business themes I was interested in seeing what Cover Your Assets had to offer. Cover Your Assets is a solid card game that is easy to play for the entire family, but it can be kind of ruthless and relies on too much luck.
How to Play Cover Your Assets
- Shuffle all of the cards together.
- Deal four cards face down to each player. If there are only two players you will deal five cards to each player. Players can look at their own cards but shouldn’t show them to the other players.
- Place the rest of the cards face down in the middle of the table to form the draw pile.
- Flip over the top card of the draw pile to form the discard pile.
- The player to the left of the dealer will start the game. Play will continue clockwise for the rest of the game.
Playing the Game
On a player’s turn they can choose one of four actions:
- Play a pair of cards.
- Match the top card from the discard pile.
- Attempt to steal cards from another player.
- Discard a card.
Playing A Pair of Cards
If a player has two cards in their hand of the same type they can choose to lay them down as a pair. They may never play more then two cards to form a pair. The player is only able to play one pair of cards from their hand on a turn.
The player can use one wild card (gold and silver cards) to create a pair. A player cannot make a pair of wild cards.
Each pair of cards that a player adds to their collection will be played on top of their previous pairs in a crisscross fashion.
Matching the Discard Pile
If a player has a wild card or a card that matches the top card on the discard pile, they can combine that card with the card from the discard pile to form a pair. This pair will be immediately added to your pile of assets.
Stealing From the Other Players
On your turn you have the option to try to steal the top pair of assets that are in front of one of the other players. To be able to steal from another player the following conditions have to be met.
- You have to have at least one pair of assets in front of yourself.
- The player you are trying to steal from must have at least two pairs of assets in front of them.
- You must have a card that matches the assets that you want to steal or a wild card in your hand.
If you meet the requirements to steal you choose which player you want to try to steal from. You will play a card from your hand that matches the assets that you are trying to steal or a wild card.
The player you are trying to steal from then has the opportunity to defend. To defend they must play a card that matches the asset or a wild card.
Players keep alternating playing matching cards/wilds until one player either doesn’t have a valid card to play or chooses not to keep playing cards. The player who played the last card will get to add the pair that was challenged to their collection. All cards that were used in the challenge are added to the pair in the player’s stack of assets.
Discarding A Card
If a player can’t take one of the other actions they must discard one of the cards from their hand to the discard pile.
End of Turn
At the end of your turn you will take cards from the draw pile. The current player will draw enough cards to replenish their hand to the starting size (five cards for two players, four cards for any other number of players). If there was a challenge the current player will draw cards first followed by the player they challenged. After the player(s) have replenished their hand, play will pass to the next player clockwise.
End of Round
The round ends when all of the cards have been drawn from the draw pile. The players will then continue playing until the players have discarded/played all of the cards remaining in their hands.
Players will then tally their score for the round. Each player will count up the value of all of the cards in their asset pile. This is their score for the current round. If none of the players have accumulated enough money to win the game, another round is played.
End of Game
The first player to accumulate assets totaling $1 million will win the game. If two players accumulate at least $1 million at the same time, the player who acquired more money will win the game.
My Thoughts on Cover Your Assets
If I were to describe Cover Your Assets in a sentence I would probably say that it is a combination of a card game mixed with some set collection and take that mechanics. Basically your goal in the game is to acquire assets worth more points than the assets acquired by the other players. This mostly comes from acquiring a pair of cards of the same suit from either your hand or from the discard pile. Players can also steal assets from other players which involves the two players taking turns playing cards from the chosen suit. The player who ends up acquiring assets worth $1 million first will win the game.
Basically that is all there is to Cover Your Assets. The game honestly shares a lot in common with your typical card game. With the gameplay being quite straightforward it is not surprising that it is quite easy to pick up and play. I would guess that you could teach the game to new players in just a couple minutes as none of the mechanics are particularly challenging. I can’t really see anyone having issues with the game as it mostly involves playing cards that match other cards. The game has a recommended age of 8+ which seems about right. Kids a little younger may be able to play the game, but may need some help counting up the points at the end of a round.
As far as strategy there is a little in the game. Usually you either only have one option or it is obvious what the best option would be. For example I would rarely if ever choose to discard a card unless that is your only option as you get nothing out of the action. There are occasionally some times where you have to make a decision about which action you would like to take. This usually comes into play when you can create your own pair of assets or try to steal assets from another player. Outside of counting cards to know which cards the other players are more likely to own, you kind of have to guess which is the best action to take.
Stealing assets from another player seems like a lucrative opportunity as you can gain assets while another player loses them. Trying to steal assets can be a risky action though. If you end up trying to steal a set of assets but have less of the corresponding cards than the other player you are only going to help them. Each card that is played in the fight for the control of the assets ends up making the assets more valuable. If you fail in your challenge you end up just giving more money to your opponent. If you succeed in your challenge though you get to take the now more valuable set of assets. As these assets are now quite valuable (they can sometimes get up to hundreds of thousands of dollars), they will become targets for the rest of the players who will try to steal them from you. If you had to use up all of your matching cards to try and defeat the other player, you could leave the pair vulnerable for someone else to steal them from you. Whenever you acquire a valuable set of assets you need to try and bury it as quick as possible so other players can’t steal them.
While the two games share little in common when it come to actual gameplay, while I was playing Cover Your Assets it reminded me a lot of the classic game UNO. The reason that Cover Your Assets reminded me of UNO was the fact that the two games have a similar feeling while you are playing them. Both of these games are what I like to call laid back games. With how simple the games are to play with most decisions being pretty obvious, they are the type of games that you don’t have to put a lot of thought into while playing. Basically you can sit back and either have a conversation or just relax and kind of shut off your brain while you are playing it. While it is nice to win the game, Cover Your Assets is the type of game where it doesn’t really matter who ends up winning the game.
With Cover Your Assets being a take that game, I expected the game to be kind of ruthless as that is usually the case in these type of games. I was genuinely surprised by how ruthless the game can be though. This is one of those games where if things aren’t going your way they likely are going to get worse before they get better. Even if players aren’t trying to gang up on another player, it might just end up that way as the players have no one else to target. You could build up a pretty good pile of assets and then one after another they are stolen by other players. In the game we played one player would regularly have all of their assets stolen. They would regularly be left with just one pair of cards left and the only reason those weren’t stolen was because players were unable to steal them. This player had no chance of winning the game no matter what they ended up choosing to do on their turn.
This is just one of the reasons why Cover Your Assets relies on a lot of luck. There may be some decisions in the game, but most games will end up coming down to the player that is the luckiest. Outside of hoping that other players don’t steal your cards, most of the luck comes from what cards you end up drawing. All of the cards were not created equally. By far the best cards are the gold and silver cards as not only do they act as wilds, they are also the cards that are worth the most points in the game. It is not just the wilds though as some of the assets are worth more than others. Outside of the home cards, all of these other cards have the same number of cards in the deck so it isn’t any harder to find a match for a more valuable card than a less valuable card. The player that is dealt the most wilds and other high value cards will have an advantage in the game.
Other than some cards being worth more than others, most of the card draw luck comes from having the right cards at the right times. As each player can only have four cards in their hand at a time (five in two player games), you can’t really store cards in your hand to use later. Instead you need to hope that you end up drawing the cards you need at the right times. On your turn you hopefully will have a pair of cards in your hand or have a card that can match the top card from the discard pile (if there is one which is not a guarantee). Otherwise hopefully you have a card that matches one of the pairs last played by one of the other players. Meanwhile on other players’ turns you hope to have more cards of the type that you just played so you can defend against them being stolen. If you end up drawing the right cards at the right times you will likely do well in the game. If you don’t have card draw luck on your side though it doesn’t matter what your strategy is as it won’t make a difference in the game.
Because the game relies on so much luck, I honestly don’t know why it was decided that you can only keep four cards in your hand at any time (five in two player games). While there needed to be some sort of hand limit, I think the game would have benefited from letting players hold more cards in their hands. I think if on a turn a player doesn’t play any cards to create a pair or steal a pair, the player should have been able to draw a card without having to discard. With more cards in your hand you could then implement more of a strategy as you could store up cards to create a series of pairs to bury more valuable pairs. More cards would also make it easier to defend against players trying to steal one of your cards. This would have added some more decision making to the game as well as you could strategically chose not to play a pair on your turn so you could accumulate more cards.
Should You Buy Cover Your Assets?
Basically Cover Your Assets is the type of game that I would consider to be the definition of mediocre. The game is not great but not terrible either. On the positive side Cover Your Assets is really easy to play that can be taught in minutes. The game is simple enough that it is one of those games like UNO where you can just play it without putting too much thought into what you are doing. The game can be quite brutal though. Whether on purpose or just due to bad luck one player can be pretty easily decimated by the other players as they steal all of their assets. Cover Your Assets also relies on a lot of luck. Between some cards being more valuable than others and some players drawing the right cards at the right times, the player that ends up drawing best will have a pretty big advantage in the game. It wouldn’t have fixed all of these problems, but I am curious how the game would play if players were allowed to keep more cards in their hand.
At the end of the day your opinion on Cover Your Assets will come down to your opinion on simple card games that rely on a lot of luck and don’t require a lot of thought. If you don’t really care for this type of card games, Cover Your Assets probably won’t be for you. If the game’s concept sounds interesting to you though and you can get a good deal, it is probably worth picking up Cover Your Assets.