The other night we had a retro game night with a couple of old games purchased at garage sales. Probably not the kind of stuff that we would play every day, but definitely good to break out on occasion.
First up was What Shall I Be?, a game from 1966 that helped young girls decide what career was for them. Apparently the only options at the time for a lady were Teacher, Model, Actress, Stewardess, Nurse, and Ballerina. What, no housewife? As you would expect the game plays rather simply, though it is not just a linear, roll the dice Candyland style walkthrough. The goal of the game is to get enough experience in the career that you want, and also have the right traits to be successful at it. A person who gets too easily excited is not going to cut it as a Nurse, though excelling when it comes to applying makeup will allow you to go far as a Model. Players take turns rolling the dice and moving around the board, hoping to land on the right spaces.
The dice rolling mechanic is a tiny bit interesting, just in the sense that you don’t roll the two dice and move that amount. The player rolls two dice and has the choice of moving the total of the two, or the amount shown on either of them. Who said that women didn’t have options in the sixties? Certainly not the makers of What Shall I Be? The board is a big circle with six sections that break off of it. Each of the sections is the career path of one of the six wonderful career choices available to the young lady. The winner is the first to collect four matching career cards (obtained by landing on spaces along that career path) and two personality and two subject cards that are beneficial to that career. Those are collected along the outer rim of the board by landing on certain spaces marked with a circle or heart. Some of these cards are really awesome. I think that my favorite is the Slow Thinker card, which is bad for a nurse, but apparently is not at all a hindrance for a teacher or any other profession.
Is this game anything other than luck? On the surface the answer to that question appears to be no, the game is really just a series of randoms. Looking a little bit deeper, and I still come up with the same answer. I suppose that there is some strategy involved in picking your career since there are only five of each career card, so you need to make sure that you are not doubling up the choice of another player. I mean, I know we all want to be an actress, but the world only has room for so many. The personality and subject cards are totally random though. By choosing which roll to keep you may be able to increase the total number that you draw, thus increasing the chance that you will not be a slow thinker. One thing I will say is that we have played this game three times (I think) and every single time Mike has won. Is that luck? Or is there some skill at this game that Mike has uncovered? Perhaps What Shall I Be? is more involved than I suspect.
It’s not a bad game at all and it only takes about 20 minutes to play a full game. Every once in a while it’s nice to have a change of pace and it’s kind of interesting to see how far games have come in the last 40 years.