2020: The Game creators Kathryn Christensen and Jonathan Noble of Bothell display the card game inspired by the crazy, difficult year. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

2020: The Game creators Kathryn Christensen and Jonathan Noble of Bothell display the card game inspired by the crazy, difficult year. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

The year 2020 — now it’s a card game, thanks to Bothell couple

The craziest, most trying year ever inspires the game invented by Kathryn Christensen and Jonathan Noble.

I think we can all agree that 2020 was a crazy year. None of us could wait for Jan. 1, 2021, to get here.

We all know it’s been more than a year since COVID-19 hit Snohomish County — yet it still feels as though today is the 445th day of 2020.

Like many of you, I have been working from home since Gov. Jay Inslee issued his stay-at-home order on March 24, 2020. (I’ve been back to the Herald offices maybe three times?) I’ve been wearing a mask, social distancing and washing my hands ever since. I have yet to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but I will ASAP.

After the longest year on record, we all deserve a laugh. If you’re looking for a way to find humor in the crazy year that was 2020, then you gotta try this card game: 2020: The Game.

The game — with the tagline “Can you survive?” — was invented by Kathryn Christensen and Jonathan Noble of Bothell.

“My boyfriend and I really enjoy games,” Christensen said. “We play a bunch of different board games and card games.”

Their favorite games to play right now? Pandemic, Dungeons & Dragons, Magic: The Gathering and Photosynthesis.

“We were playing a card game when it popped into my mind, and I ran the idea by him, and he said, ‘Yeah, that sounds fun,’” Christensen said. “The idea came out of nowhere and it built itself.”

Each player is randomly assigned, by the roll of a die, a position on three 2020 issues: Pro-Trump/Anti-Trump, Blue Lives Matter/Black Lives Matter and Masker/Anti-Masker.

“It’s great if you know someone who really supports Trump, rolls the die, and they’re Anti-Trump,” Christensen said. “It just makes it that much more funny.”

Players take turns drawing cards that impact their Morale, Health and Money scores. (You start with 15 points in each bank.) Some of the cards affect players based on their positions on the issues, some cards ask players to make choices, some cards have players roll a die.

As you draw cards, you’ll be reminded of all the craziness that was 2020: wildfires, toilet paper shortages, canceled flights, unemployment, hurricanes, murder hornets, fake news, riots and looting, and more.

“There was so much crazy stuff that happened in 2020 that the material was just there,” Christensen said. “It was easy to come up with funny things related to what was going on.”

Any player who reaches zero in Morale, Health or Money is out. (You’ll need a pencil and paper to keep track of your score as it goes up and down throughout the game.) The last player standing wins the game.

“In 2020 fashion, it just wears down your morale, your health and your money until people start dropping out of the game,” Christensen said.

Christensen, 31, developed the game itself, writing out the rules and the silly situations that play out on the cards. She did most of the work while on a flight for her job as a horse trainer out of the Sky River Equestrian Center in Sultan.

Even though the game gets into the politics of 2020, the game itself is nonpartisan and does not take sides on any issue. Christensen and Noble have created a game that you can play with friends and family no matter where you stand.

“It’s not about the political or social issues — it’s about coming together to survive the year,” Noble said. “It just so happens that there were some pretty crazy political and social issues in the year, and we pretty much had to include them.”

A graphic designer for 13 years, Noble designed all 72 playing cards, three position cards, as well as the box for the game. He earned his bachelor’s degree in graphic design from Western Washington University. It was quick work for the 37-year-old production manager for Fast Signs of Lynnwood.

“We both discussed the basic idea,” Noble said. “Then, I spent the better part of the afternoon in front of my computer, fiddling around with ideas.”

The funniest card in the game? Christensen and Noble still laugh about the Murder Hornet card. It reminds us of the U.S. infestation of Asian giant hornets — nicknamed “murder hornets” of all things — that threaten to wipe out our bee populations.

The couple tried to make the card as ridiculous as the headlines. A roll of the die determines if you get stung.

“On the card — going along with how our society is — there is no option to ignore it,” Noble said. “You have to either take a picture of it or try to capture it. You can’t just leave it be.”

When the three of us played over Zoom, for example, the die told me to play the game as if I were Pro-Trump, Black Lives Matter and Anti-Masker. (They set up the game for us in the living room of their Bothell apartment; I looked at the cards over the camera.)

Whenever a card allowed me to make a choice, I made the same decision in the game as I did in my own life: I did buy hand sanitizer. I did get my hair cut and colored because I was a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding. I did go to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned. I did eat out at a restaurant, although I was seated outdoors. (You don’t have to do that in the game. I was only experimenting.)

My strategy was not a good one. I was the first player to leave the game. Although I had contracted COVID-19 twice — it would have been three times if I hadn’t been able to play a Fake News card — it was surprisingly my Morale and not my Health that dipped to zero. If only I gotten a vaccine!

(By the way, I didn’t think I’d be eligible to receive the vaccine until May 1. Apparently, I’m eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine now because newspapers are deemed essential. You might be, too. Check your eligibility with Washington State Department of Health’s Phase Finder Tool at www.findyourphasewa.org.)

Christensen won by way of a tiebreaker because I was the only one who was out by the time the deck was gone. She had 25 points left to Noble’s 22.

The next time I play, I’ll have to get my boyfriend to join me. We like card and board games, too. Our favorite game to play right now? Wingspan.

About the game

2020: The Game is for 2-4 players, ages 16 and older and takes about 30 minutes to play. Order the game for $19.99 through Shuffled Ink. For more about 2020: The Game, go to www.2020TheGame.store.

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