Key to the Front Door – Educational and Fun too

Key to the Front Door looks at a new board game from Debra Avara.

While wandering the aisles at the recent New York Toy Fair, we met Debra Avara, an Assistant Professor at Amarillo College where she teaches Sociology. She was promoting a new game she had designed to teach kids all about how to cope with living like an adult. Since it is highly probable that many of today’s teens might find themselves out on their own after high school graduation, Debra felt there was a real need to explain the realities facing young adults starting out with a new job, an unfurnished apartment and lots of bills. She had already successfully presented her ideas in numerous books and seminars, and the thought of learning from a board game seemed like the next logical step. So, she created “Key to the Front Door,” which is kind of a hi-octane version of the board games “Life,” and “Monopoly.”

The game contents include 8 player pawns, 8 garage sales tokens, 2 dice, a deck of 25 Key cards, play money ($1, $5, $10, $20, $50 & $100 bills), numerous budget/inventory worksheets, a large game board measuring 24″ x 24″ and a set of rules. To set things up, each player receives a player pawn, $500, 1 garage sale token and 1 budget/inventory sheet. Each player also needs 3 small envelopes and a pencil or pen (not included). The envelopes are labeled “Vacation Savings,” Emergency Savings” and “College/Retirement Savings.” Each player must immediately deposit $25 in each of the three envelopes and will have to add an additional $10 to each one every time he circles the game board.

Key to the Front Door 2The object of the game is to be the first player to purchase all of the “need” items on your inventory list, or if everyone goes broke before that happens, the player who has accumulated the most “need” items is declared the winner. It should be noted that the “need” items include the types of things needed to furnish an apartment, including chairs, couch, bed, TV, pots & pans, towels and many others. At the same time, players may also want to purchase some “want” items like pictures, plants, a camera, shelving and lots of other stuff. All of the available items are listed on the inventory sheet.

To begin play, all player pawns are placed on the “Start Here” square on the game board. The board winds around a total of 80 spaces. There are also some bridges which slow down a player’s progress and a few rivers, which speed things up. Players alternate turns by rolling one die and moving down the path. Once a player has landed on a space, the player must follow the instructions on the space. There are spaces that require a player to pay a bill, like water, cell phone or car payment, and also spaces that reward a player with work bonuses, birthday money etc. Remember, each player does have a job, so each time a player lands on or passes a “Pay Day” space, he collects $125, but the player also has to pay his apartment rent of $425 each time he circles the board. There are also lots of chances on the board spaces to purchase one or more items on a player’s inventory list. The cost of all items, both “needs” and “wants,” is listed on the inventory list. The choice belongs to the player. If a player would happen to land on a space with a golden Key on it, he must draw one of the Key cards, and follow the instructions on the card. Most of the cards involve buying decisions such as whether to buy a new cell phone or keep the old one, or whether to borrow a book from the library or just buy it.

Key to the Front Door 3If during the game, a player cannot pay a bill or his rent, he can use his 1 garage sale token (one time only) to sell any or all of the items he has purchased on his inventory list. Unfortunately, the player only gets garage sale prices for his items, which are substantially less than what he paid for them. But that is life, right? He does get to the stay in the game if he raises enough money to pay his bills.

There are several more detailed rules, but that is the game in a nutshell. The Toys Bulletin staff played “Key to the Front Door” numerous times over about a 7 day period. It even provided some educational insights to many of us, as the game was quick to point out that budgeting and planning are crucial ingredients leading to financial independence and a successful life. This is a great learning tool for families and certainly in the classroom.

“Key to the Front Door” retails for $29.95 and can be purchased directly from the Deb Avara Books website.

–RJ Cullen






Posted in Board Games, Learning